The Season 2 finale of "The Leftovers" was a harrowing episode of television. The anniversary of the Sudden Departure laid bare that while no one in Miracle departed, the town has been far from spared of tragedy and grief. However, amid the chaos Meg (Liv Tyler) and the Guilty Remnant brought to Texas in "I Live Here Now," the HBO series managed, in its own, dark way, to give this (possibly final) chapter of "The Leftovers" a sort-of-happy ending -- and an undeniably powerful one.
They say home is where the heart is and when Kevin (Justin Theroux) walks into his dark house at the end of the finale, he has finally realized it is the people he loves who will help him stem the tide of having "no idea what's happening" -- as John (Kevin Carroll) puts it -- in the world around him, not some divinely spared town in Texas. Kevin's tears of relief in the episode's final shot are not a result of the town, which has been thrust in the chaos by the finale end, but the sight of everyone he cares about -- Laurie (Amy Brenneman), Matt (Christopher Eccleston), Mary (Janel Moloney), Jill (Margaret Qualley), Tom (Chris Zylka), Lily, and especially Nora (Carrie Coon) -- waiting for him.
Unfortunately, he has to die again first to get to that point -- this time not voluntarily, but by a bullet from John, who is not quite satisfied with Kevin's explanation for why his hand print was on Evie's (Jasmin Savoy Brown) car and none too pleased at Kevin's suggestion that Evie would stage her departure because she didn't really love her parents. John's bullet sends Kevin back to that Lynchian limbo hotel. This time he chooses his most honest identity -- the uniform of the Mapleton sheriff -- and is forced to sing (bad) karaoke by the mysterious man from the bridge from Kevin's last trip to the "other side." He breaks down singing the lyrics to Simon and Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound" and seems to finally learn that he cannot carry the weight of the world on his shoulders alone -- it is just too lonely!
Meanwhile, the rest of the town is back in reality dealing with the fallout of Meg's Oct. 14 plans, which turn out to be driving a trailer with the three missing girls onto the bridge and staging an hourlong countdown bomb fakeout. The actual result of the stunt is the unrelenting march of both the Guilty Remnant and the under-the-bridge campers into the town to hammer the point home that there is nothing special about Miracle -- the campers celebrate finally stepping foot on the hallowed ground by partying in exactly the same way they did outside.
However, Meg's point is made well before that. In a devastating sequence, Erika (Regina King) runs onto the bridge, fearing her daughter planned to blow herself up, as John is manhandled by border patrol keeping the potential blast zone clear. Evie's parents panicked confusion at their daughter's participation in the Guilty Remnant's disturbing stunt felt eerily relevant amid a national discussion about radicalization and the choice to withhold the audio of Erika's desperate pleas to her daughter made the scene all the more heartbreaking.
"I don't understand," Erika yells when the timer hits zero and no bomb goes off.
"You understand," writes, Evie, reminding her mother that while Miracle was spared of the Sudden Departure, there are plenty of other quitter tragedies she and the town have ignored, such as John's three-year absence doing jail time for shooting his father, a wound whose effect on Evie is underscored by Michael's (Jovan Adepo) powerful recounting of a story his mother used to tell in church that day.
Elsewhere, closure for the season comes for other characters as John makes up with Kevin and maybe learns to trust his fellow man instead of beating him into submission; Nora proves that Lily is not just a lifeline for her, dropping to the ground on the bridge to save her in a sequence reminiscent of the season's cave woman prologue; Tom rescues Nora and Lily, continuing to make good on his promise to Holy Wayne; Mary wakes up and rewards Matt for his faith; and Laurie perhaps starts to break down Jill's walls.
Plus, the show left plenty of room to continue the Garveys' story -- and the Murphys' story, for that matter -- as there, of course, continues to be a lot of unanswered questions.
Why did Evie Murphy join the Guilty Remnant? Will the Garveys stay in Miracle? Hopefully, HBO will renew "The Leftovers" for a third season so fans can find out.