Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Leftovers, Season 3, Episode 8: The Book of Nora

That’s it?

I put up with three seasons of this nonsense random madlib and this is how it ends? Nothing is explained and explored

In fact, as I said last episode, this entire season has kind of been a wallowing in Nora and Kevin’s brokenness. Which I’m not saying is necessarily a bad thing – but the show was presented as a story about the Departure and we’ve had weird acting dogs and bird and Matt the mystical gambling and Kevin transporting to other worlds/dreams/hallucinations and somehow not dying and we’ve had the Guilty Remnant and… we’ve just had a whole lot of random STUFF that just. Doesn’t. Matter.

And this season finale just kind of confirmed that. The whole last three seasons? Matt and his gospel, the boat with the lion, John, Michael, Evie, Erika, Kevin senior and his dreams and that damn National Geographic everyone was raving about, Patty and whatever on earth was going on with her, the mystical hug guy – in fact everything Tommy ever did – Laurie, Meg, Jill and her angst and all they did – even Mary waking up and being apparently pregnant? None of it mattered. Nearly everything we’ve madlibbed through justfeels nonsensical, pointless. I mean, maybe it appealed to some or set up the brokenness of the only 2 people who actually mattered – but we already established how both of them were fraying in 3 episodes. That’s all it really took to truly emphasise how both of these people were hurting and not doing well – and no amount of lion sex cult or siege of Miracle of Matt getting naked in the stocks, really added to that

So we had all this stuff that answered no questions, added nothing to the world or the plot or, really, the character development and, frankly, I just didn’t find anything entertaining. It’s not that the characters were bad, they were compelling, had powerful emotional reactions and all of it was excellently displayed. Over and over and over and ye gods I get it they’re all broken, over again. I held

But let’s get to the gritty of this. Nora completes her whole newspaper interview to tell everyone she consents to being zapped to find her kids – and with much feeling and build up and nudity she emotionally and painfully goes through the process of agreeing to use the machine. As ever with Nora, her pain is palpable, her emotion incredible – right up until the moment the machine activates

At which point we buzz to the future – to when Nora is calling herself Sarah and apparently exchanging doves with a nun and denying she knows anyone called Kevin. Nora definitely doesn’t want to meet him and seems ready to do a runner when Kevin arrives at her door with an apparent case of amnesia

Yes, Kevin says he doesn’t remember being in Australia before or anything of the last 2 seasons really. He mentions having seen her once for a brief moment and decided that since he happened to be in this out of the way part of Australia and he happened to see her riding past he would invite her to a dance

Yes, really, this is his story. And y’know, with Leftovers I’m happy to believe any kind of utter nonsense and random amnesia just fits that endlessness. But this kind of coincidence running into her? Nah, not buying this. Nor is Nora and she tells him to sod off right now

The one person who knew Nora was still around with Laurie so Nora calls her to interrogate her in her usual aggressive fashion but Laurie is super calm and spies what she sees as the real reason for Nora’s call – permission to go on the date. Of course Nora denies this.

But (after a scene of her struggling to get ready) she does go – and finds out it’s actually a wedding (the couple is kind of awesome and much much much more fun than Kevin and Nora). Kevin keeps up the amnesia all night but Nora catches up on all the people she left behind (Matt is now dead presumably from cancer). They dance, they cry and watch as doves are released with messages of love and a goat with lots of beads around its neck is released (it’s a biblical scape goat, the beads represent sin) before Nora goes home – sick of Kevin’s amnesia act.

At home she finds her birds are missing. She also decides to accuse the nun of a) stealing her birds (why she has carrier pigeons I don’t know, it’s not explained and I don’t care) b) telling Kevin where she lives (which she denies) and c) sleeping with a man who climbed up to her window by a ladder. Why was he there? It’s just another random event – like the nun in the first place. Or Nora falling off her bike because of the scape goat’s discarded beads and her having to save it from where it had been entangled on a fence. Is this deep symbolism? She lost her symbols of hope – her doves? She took on the sins of others? She welcomed in the scape goat that has been burdened with the sins of others? I’m sure it’s all very symbolic but, like everything with Leftovers it’s just laid on a little thickly

She goes home and the next day she has her goat, a bucket of messages of love, her doves are back – and so is Kevin. He admits that the whole amnesia thing was a frankly bizarre act to try and reset the clock an he’s actually been obsessively searching for Nora for years in a truly disturbing way that deserves ALL the restraining orders.

Ultimately they agree with what Nora said – she did need to be with her kids, that they would loom over here because she never ever had closure (we also learn that Kevin isn’t immortal since he has a heart condition). Which is why she used the machine

And it worked – she went to a world that was exactly like theirs – only nearly deserted because only those who Departed are there. There everyone is like Nora – because everyone lost everything and everyone. Laura lost her husband and kids – but among the Departed they all lost multiple people. Which means, when she tracks down her kids and husband (which takes a long time because the sparse population hasn’t exactly maintained transport hubs) she realises they are the lucky ones. Because nearly the whole family departed together – and they’ve grown up, her husband has a new wife – and they’re happy. And she? Is not necessary

Which, I guess, is closure.

With that new realisation she tracks down the guy who designed the machine and asked him to make another one to take her home. And lot it’s done and never with the Departure matter again

Never mind that we not only have a whole separate dimension but apparently the means now for people to pass between the two. That’s a whole world of cities and infrastructure, of farm land and resources: everything on Earth is effectively doubled. What are the consequences of this? Since Depatureland has only 2% of the population what scraps of society do they even have left? Do they need help? Is there going to be a land grab? War for these new resources? Immigration rush? Colonisation? Any Departed want to come back?

Ye gods Leftovers there are massive ramifications for this and you’re just going to ignore it and turn it into “And Nora saw her kids, now ignore this world.” Really? Really really?

And her doves return! Behold not so subtle symbolism of hope!

I mean, maybe it’s me – maybe it’s just that I don’t like character development plots done over and over again. It’s a pet hate of mine to constantly wallow in characters’ angst. I also don’t think imagery can actually run a show – excellent aesthetics, theme and mood are great additions but they need to be actually attached to a stable plot (no amount of ornaments will make a difference if your Christmas tree is a small stick your dog dragged in). Maybe my general dislike of Madlib Mystery shows that introduce an intriguing, weird mystery and then don’t bother to provide any answers hit Leftovers which pretty much epitomises all of that and my brain just can’t scream “NOPE!” Loud enough, Maybe because I’ve simply got a limit to how much random, unexplained randomness before I’m done.

I know lots of people sang the praises of this show – but I just do not get it. Conceptually a show lasting 3 seasons without really answering any of the core questions but throws us “hey Nora and Kevin sorted their shit out” as some kind of consolation prize? And don’t get me wrong the acting and feeling and performance was amazing but this is what we’re focusing on?

Diversitywise this show is beyond poor. There are no LGBT characters and never have been (not actual characters). We introduced an entire Black family in season 2 but they’ve been thoroughly sidelined and rendered irrelevant in season 3. We saw some Aboriginal Australians but they existed just for Kevin senior to be terrible to. It’s all just been very very very very lacking.