The Leftovers has been up against some serious competition since joining HBO programming. With shows like Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, and True Detective, HBO has been pretty jam-packed with fantastic shows for years. And considering that Sunday Night Football airs the same day as The Leftovers, it had to do its best to earn a spot among TV’s elite.
I have been watching it religiously every Sunday and I can tell you that this show has had no problems proving its worth. The Leftovers follows the lives of several people in the town of Mapleton as they try to cope with the devastating loss of their loved ones.
After the disappearance of two percent of the world’s population—known as “The Sudden Departure”—the world split into two groups: those trying to cope and those who joined Guilty Remnant. Guilty Remnant is a cult consisting of those who abandoned their previous lives, took a vow of silence, and believe that God’s judgement is coming.
The show follows the lives of the Garvey family: Kevin (Justin Theroux), who is the chief of police and is dealing with the disappearance of his wife, Laurie (Amy Brenneman), who left to join Guilty Remnant, and his two children, Jill (Margaret Qualley) and Tommy (Chris Zylka). Jill is a brooding teenager trying to deal with the loss of her mother and Tommy ran off to be the errand boy for Holy Wayne (Paterson Joseph), a “healer”. The show also follows Nora (Carrie Coon), who lost her husband and two children during “The Sudden Departure”, and her brother Matt (Christopher Eccleston), a preacher who’s a close friend of the Garveys’.
The finale kicks off with Kevin in a cabin in Cairo with Guilty Remnant leader Patti lying dead on the floor after she killed herself. In an SOS call to Matt, he arrives at the cabin and agrees to help Kevin bury the body in the woods.
Meanwhile, Christine abandons Tommy upon discovering that she wasn’t the only one to bear a child of Wayne’s. She leaves the infant in a bathroom stall, forcing Tommy to take care of her.
Back in Mapleton, Laurie and Jill sit in the Guilty Remnant house. Meg (Liv Tyler) is scribbling on her notepad to Laurie requesting that the group still be allowed to carry out their horrific Memorial Day stunt. Laurie agrees and Meg leads the members outside.
Cut to Nora waking up and walking into her kitchen where she sees lifelike mannequins of her family exactly where they sat before they departed. She glances over their faces and begins to sob.
As Matt and Kevin drive back into town, they stop at a diner along the way and discuss the departure. Kevin tells Matt that he believes he is responsible for his family falling apart. As he heads into the bathroom to compose himself, Kevin can hear someone mumbling to himself from a stall. He opens the door to find Wayne near death holding a gaping wound on his stomach. Wayne asks Kevin to make a wish upon confiding that he may be a fraud. But if he isn’t he can grant Kevin anything he wants. Kevin obliges and Wayne grants him his wish and then dies.
As Kevin and Matt make it further back into Mapleton, the find the town in ruins. They find Meg and another member bloodied and tied to a pole. Kevin asks what they did and he tosses a notepad to Meg. She scribbles, “We made them remember,” thereby revealing what their plan was: to leave lifelike mannequins of departed family members in the houses of their grieving families.
The Guilty Remnant house has been set ablaze by the time Kevin makes it there. He turns to catch Laurie being dragged out of the house by an angry townsman. Kevin punches him to the ground and tries to calm Laurie down, who is screaming and crying. She screams, “Jill!” and points to the burning house, prompting Kevin to raid the house and find his daughter passed out on the floor. He carries her out and as Jill wakes up, Kevin shoots Laurie a death stare for having brought her into the cult in the first place.
We cut back to Nora who is still sitting with her family. She proceeds to write Kevin a goodbye letter and the episode comes to a close as Nora reads her letter aloud. Laurie is walking aimlessly through the town. She stops at the river and a car pulls up behind her. Laurie whips around and sees Tommy come out of the car. Kevin and Jill walk hand in hand back to the house where Nora is dropping off her letter. She then sees Christine’s abandoned infant in a car seat on the porch. “Look what I found,” says Nora, and smiles as Kevin and Jill arrive.
This show is beyond amazing, and “The Prodigal Son Returns” was a perfect end to the season that left just enough story for an already renewed second season. MMMMM