Summary: Tommy is left with Christine's baby when she abandons him. Kevin calls Matt and they bury Patti before returning to Mapleton. On the way, Kevin finds a dying Wayne in the bathroom of a diner and Wayne grants him a wish before he dies. The GR place Loved Ones dolls of the departed all over the town and the townspeople destroy Mapleton in an attempt to get back at them. Kevin saves Jill from a burning house that the townspeople lit on fire. Tommy brings the baby to Kevin's house where Nora finds it.
The Good: This season has had ups and downs but the last episode delivered big-time and my interest for the show has never been bigger going into season 2.
Part of what made this episode work so damn well was the fact that there were a tremendous amount of emotional scenes. Every couple minutes it seemed there was another scene that really affected me and hit me hard and that made this episode top-tier television.
Where to begin with all the scenes? I'll start with the Tommy storyline since it wrapped up surprisingly quickly. It was a surprise to see Christine just abandon Tommy and leave him with the baby, but that also did make Tommy's predicament easy to relate to. I bought Tommy's final decision to bring the baby to Kevin's house as well. It fit because Tommy is bringing the child to a man who Tommy knows will raise a kid even if the kid isn't his own. Kevin did it to Tommy so he can do it for another child. It's good storytelling and brings Tommy's relationship with Kevin to a nice bit of closure this season.
Next is the Nora storyline which was incredible. Carrie Coon's acting was amazing as always and she really captivated once again as Nora. The scene where Nora walked into the dining room and saw the dolls of her family sitting right where they departed was utterly heartbreaking and the acting only made it that much better. The scene had no sound and yet Nora's devastation reached us through Carrie Coon's spectacular acting. This was really shockingly sad stuff. Then we go to the closing moments of the episode where Nora is writing what I presumed to be a suicide note. It is really powerful television and with the image of Nora sitting with her family before tucking in her children to accompany it, it's one of the most depressing scenes in this episode. But thankfully, there is no suicide and the episode ends on a surprising, but very welcome moment of hope once Nora picks up the baby. I couldn't think of a better way to close out the season.
Now onto the main Kevin storyline, and wow was it impressive. Justin Theroux delivered a next level performance in this episode and really made all of Kevin's scenes hit home. He has breathed life into this character in a brilliant way. Now as for the actual story, it was excellent from the get go. Including Matt in the story was smart as it let Kevin just release all of his emotions. It started with a lovely scene of Kevin reading Job 23 out of the Bible before they buried Patti. It was a remarkably touching scene that was acted to perfection which made the moment a lot more poignant than I would have expected. And yet that moment was one-upped just a few scenes later after Kevin's spectacular speech to Matt in the diner. This scene finally showed to us what Kevin took from Patti's suicide back in "Cairo" which cleared up one of the more confusing elements of that episode. But more importantly, the scene let Kevin release what he has been holding in ever since the first episode of this show. This was the catharsis of Kevin's character arc as he comes to terms with everything that's happened to him since the Sudden Departure and how he has caused his family to fracture. It's powerful and affecting television at its finest as we see Kevin come clean to Matt about everything that has been bothering him and it makes for wonderful television.
Next is the Wayne stuff which was also great. It was surprising to see the character die already as there was still a lot of mystery around him but we were given one heck of a death scene that closed out Wayne's story in a brilliantly vague fashion. To me there are 2 different stories possible for his character, depending on if he's real or a fraud. If he's real then the story is one about a man who had legitimate powers but nobody believed him or gave him anything for it and he was left so alone that he started to believe himself to be a fraud and wanted to grant Kevin's wish to try to see if he was actually real. On the other hand it could also be the story of a man so disillusioned that he convinced himself he was magical and it was only when he faced death that he started to realize he had no powers, but he refused to believe it an ultimately tried to convince himself he was real by "granting" Kevin's wish. The fascinating thing is that we may never have a concrete answer abut Wayne since he's now dead and we will just have to find our own answer.
Now finally we are onto the big climax of the episode in Mapleton. The scenes of chaos in Mapleton were stunning to watch as we were just as disoriented as Kevin while moving through the town, watching all of the uncontrollable destruction. It's tough to watch all the carnage and it's all eerily explained through Meg's brilliant "we made them remember". I was very happy to see a callback to "Pilot" with Lucy telling Kevin he was right about the people wanting to explode instead of moving on. It adds some more emotion to the scene with the town being in an uncontrollable rage and all the officials being unable to help or stop it in any way.
The scene where Kevin rescues Jill was also tremendous. It was brilliantly shot and I love the decision to remove the sound as we knew that all we would hear is Kevin shouting "Jill!" anyways. By amplifying the music it increased the immersion with the scene and also the emotion. A really superb sequence. And yet the stuff before and after the sequence was awesome as well. Laurie's first word in a year was tremendous as we understood how bad she would feel for being unable to protect Jill when she needed her. And with Kevin ultimately saving Jill and taking her away, it may be the perfect moment for Laurie to re-evaluate her life and save herself. Though, as Kevin makes clear with his look towards Laurie, returning to the family will not be possible and it seems Laurie will have to find solace in Tommy to move on with her life.
I was also really happy to here "Nothing Else Matters" played in this episode.
The Bad: There were a few small things that made this episode miss out on a really high score however.
It was very unclear how Wayne made it into the diner. It was explained on the radio that Wayne had just escaped a shootout with ATFEC agents, but I think that is a major detail that should have been incorporated better. I also don't see how Wayne could have made it into the bathroom without anyone noticing, which is pretty flawed.
This episode was even more depressing than any before despite the hopeful ending. There's a fine line between depressing television and powerful television and this episode toed the line a few times too many for my liking, which took away from my enjoyment.
The Unknown: A few questions from this finale.
Where do the characters go now? Who do they go to and how do they get on with their lives?
Does Wayne's baby have any powers due to being related to Wayne? Will they come into play next season? Will Wayne even play a role in later seasons?
What was Kevin's wish and did it come true? I believe his wish was to rebuild his family because he had just finished talking about the state of his family a minute earlier.
Will Tommy stay in Mapleton or will he leave? Will he stay with any other members of his family?
Best Moment: So many to choose from. I will go with Kevin's confession in the end. Honestly it's such a hard decision with this episode. Too many scenes were fantastic.
Character of the Episode: Kevin for finally baring his soul to Matt.
Conclusion: This was outstanding. There was plenty of emotion and The Leftovers couldn't have ended the season on a stronger note. I am more than excited for the next season.
Regarding the season as a whole, I think it had its ups and downs but it was overall very good. Definitely above average television and when the season was at its high points, it was must-watch. Really powerful season and I have faith that season 2 will fearlessly explore these dark themes in ways that are just as compelling.