Warning: This article contains spoilers for the series finale of The Leftovers.
The Leftovers closed out its brief three season run tonight with “The Book of Nora” and, as the title of that episode suggests, the last moments of the series dealt with the character played by Carrie Coon. For three years, The Leftovers has maintained one mystery: what happened to 98 percent of the world’s population. Those left behind, the leftovers, have been left wondering about that mystery, as they tried to pick up the pieces of their lives, and it seems Coon’s character may have held the answer all along.
Nora Durst Brings The Leftovers Full Circle
To be certain is never easy with the ending of a beloved series and so it is with The Leftovers, which as GQ reports, does leave some stories unfinished, just as it so often is with life. The series finale does, however, address the big elephant in the room, that mystery of where 98 percent of Earth’s population went and why. The answer to that mystery lies with Nora (Coon), and a saga that began with the very first episode of The Leftovers, and as it turns out, had long-reaching and unexpected effects.
As “The Book of Nora” begins, Nora sets out to use the machine that allows for traveling to the “other place,” proving once and for all that it does work. Much of the remainder of the series finale was spent with Nora and Kevin (Justin Theroux) sharing a detailed conversation about what has really been going on.
Nora tells Kevin that she went to the other place and discovered that life, for all of its grief and mysteries, does go on. Her family has moved on, as has so many of the other people in that other place, whether that place is another reality or an afterlife.
Much of the series finale for The Leftovers advances around Nora’s retelling of her adventure, so it all boils down to whether Nora can be trusted.
The Leftovers Creator Damon Lindelof On Nora’s Final Monologue
While The Leftovers does have sci-fi elements, the Hollywood Reporter shares that the series is primarily a drama, dependent upon the ability of the show’s cast members to deliver compelling and entertaining dialogue. Mr. Lindelof cites this as the primary reason for ending the show with a conversation, instead of following the “show, don’t tell” rule of good storytelling. While fans have questioned The Leftovers showrunner for failing to give Nora’s story an exciting visual flashback, Damon says letting Connie Coon tell the story was more in line with the series.
Lindelof adds that The Leftovers was always going to end the way that it did and that they had a strong sense of where the series finale would go, even before the premiere of the third and final season. He says he also knew which character would take the story home.
“It was always going to be that Nora tells the story of going through, but there were a couple different permutations of who she was telling that story to — and then it became very obvious to us that it had to be Kevin,” says The Leftovers creator. “That was locked in before we even started breaking the season premiere.”
Going back to the question of a monologue over visual flashbacks, Damon Lindelof responds to the question of why Nora was chosen to deliver this final bit of storytelling. The Leftovers boss says he wanted there to be a question of believability and that was something that could be attributed to Nora. Damon says showing those scenes would have confirmed that Nora was telling the truth and that wasn’t how he wanted to end The Leftovers.
Lindelof says the internal conflict of belief versus doubt can either provide comfort or stir painful feelings, and it’s that struggle that is the base theme of The Leftovers.
“I feel like Nora’s story is the culmination of all those ideas,” says The Leftovers creator.
Finally, there’s the one question everyone wants to pose to the series creator.
Damon says he wants to believe Nora, but that’s as far as he will commit.
“Let me just put it to you that way. I want to believe her,” says the showrunner. “That’s the most honest answer I can give you.”
[Featured Image by HBO]