In ‘The Leftovers’ recap, Laurie’s journey takes her from Nora’s mission to disappear all the way to Kevin’s job to stop the apocalypse from happening…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
It’s well documented that ‘The Leftovers’ is much more a character study than just a show about two-percent of the world’s population disappearing one random day with no explanation.
Where this series has delved into the character’s lives throughout the past three seasons has really been some of the most remarkable work on television and Sunday night’s episode was no exception.
This time around, ‘The Leftovers’ spent most of the episode focused on Laurie Garvey and her journey from psychiatrist to grieving mother to cult member and all the way back to being a loving wife again, except it was to a different man.
As the episode begins, we see Laurie acting as a therapist where she’s hearing the story from a woman who struggled for years to have a baby before nearly giving up when she found out she was actually pregnant. That woman finally gave birth to a child — almost a miracle in her mind — but just months after she gave birth, he was gone.
See this woman is the same person we met in the opening scenes of ‘The Leftovers’ back in season one when she strapped her baby into the car seat at a grocery story before turning around a second later to see he was gone as was the other two-percent of the world’s population. Just gone with no explanation.
Now this grieving mother is looking for closure or just a hint about what she’s supposed to do next and she’s turning to Laurie for help or guidance. Instead of offering her a solution from a clinical standpoint, Laurie looks absolutely dumbfounded and instead just tells the woman “I don’t know” when she screams at her about what she should do next.
After the session, Laurie goes to her office, writes out a note and swallows two handfuls of pills as she prepares to exit this mortal coil. Laurie suffered through her own loss on the day of the Sudden Departure when the baby that was growing inside her womb just suddenly disappeared but she was forced to suffer silently because no one even knew that child existed.
Laurie swallows the pills and prepares to meet death but after a few moments of contemplation, she rushes to her medical bag, drinks down a bottle of ipecac and vomits everything from inside out. It was almost like an exorcism for Laurie as she purged the demons from her body in that moment while she was vomiting out the very pills meant to kill her.
This entire scene is scored by the band Apocalyptica in their haunting cover of Metallica’s “Wherever I May Roam”.
Following the suicide attempt, Laurie quietly returns home and searches for everything white that she can find in her closet. She puts on the clothes before wandering outside where she finds two members of the Guilty Remnant standing outside her door. Laurie approaches them and then asks what does she have to do? This was Laurie’s transformation from mother and wife into a member of the Guilty Remnant. This was how Laurie Garvey chose to deal with her loss. This was the answer to Laurie’s own internal conflict on what she should do next.
By the end of the episode, Laurie has come full circle.
With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘The Leftovers’ titled ‘Certified’…
This is How I Disappear
This week’s episode is largely split into two different timelines so for clarity sake we’ll go in chronological order after the theme song from the horror-rap group The Gravediggaz opened the show with their track “1-800-Suicide” — which is a harbinger of things to come.
Once they arrived in Australia, Matt, John, Michael and Laurie sought out Kevin but instead found Nora all alone at their hotel. John and Michael assumed that Kevin was on a plane back to the United States so they went to the airport to find him while Matt and Laurie stayed behind with Nora.
The three of them together decided to go on a hunt for the scientists behind the machine that will supposedly send people to whatever plain of existence where the rest of the two-percent of the population went on the day of the Sudden Departure. Nora attempted to infiltrate the group after she was invited to Australia by them but then suddenly failed whatever tests they needed her to pass before abandoning her at a seemingly defunct industrial warehouse.
Since that time, Nora has been even more determined to find out what these supposed physicists are doing, but its clear her mission has nothing to do with her duties as an agent of the Department of Sudden Departures. Instead, Nora seems resigned that these scientists are actually sending people to the same place where their loved ones went on that fateful day nearly seven years ago.
At first, however, Nora just makes it look like a stakeout after Laurie helped track down the physicists at their home through her meticulous research on the internet. The three of them sit in a stolen van while watching the scientists from across the street while waiting for them to make a move.
While sitting in the van, Nora begins poking at Laurie by asking to help connect her to her children like she does with John when they have people give them a handprint before she dupes them with a message from beyond the grave when really she’s just perusing the internet to find out information about the loved one who has passed away. Laurie explains to Nora that she wouldn’t be a candidate for this particular brand of therapy because she’s a “departure”. In other words, Nora lost her children due to the Sudden Departure rather than them just dying like the rest of the people she “helps” when working alongside John in Miracle, Texas.
As Laurie explains, they tried to help people who lost loved ones during the Sudden Departure but it always ended in disaster. Why?
“Death is easy. People just want finality, an end to their grief but with departures there is no end and if we indicated otherwise, by saying we were able to communicate with those individuals, it made their loved ones very, very angry because they didn’t want closure.”
~ Laurie Garvey
In Nora’s case, she wanted to talk to her children again but if Laurie offered her some kind of finality that they were actually dead, then that meant it was all over. All hope was lost. As it stands, Nora’s kids are gone but they could still be out there somewhere. They could be found.
As the night continues, Nora shows Matt and Laurie videos from the people who have gone through this machine previously that allegedly reconnects them with their loved ones on the “other side” after the Sudden Departure. Laurie calls this an elaborate suicide machine but Nora disagrees because there are much easier ways for somebody to kill themselves.
For instance, a person could go scuba diving and just turn one of the oxygen knobs the wrong way, which would make it seem like a freak accident rather than what it really was. Laurie knows all about this because she’s certified in scuba diving — thus the title of the episode.
As the stakeout continues, Nora lights up a cigarette with some help from Laurie’s lighter, which she refuses to give back to her. When Laurie insists, the two of them end up in a struggle for the lighter before Nora elbows her in the face, giving her a black eye. The lighter was the gift she received from her daughter Jill while she was in the Guilty Remnant with the inscription “don’t forget me”.
The brief fight ends just as the two physicists are leaving their home, which prompts everyone to stand at attention as they decide to follow them in hopes of tracking down this device that will supposedly reunite loved ones with those who departed.
Once they arrive and Nora is certain she’s found the way to reunite with her children and she reminisces with Matt about a time they spent together at a sporting event. Nora recounts how she didn’t care at all about the game being played in front of her but instead she was fascinated by a bouncing beach ball being tossed about in the stands. She was riveted watching this ball go from one side of the stadium to the next until it finally came to Matt and he smacked it out to another part of the crowd as they both smiled with joy. It was one of the first times they had been happy since their parents died during a tragic house fire.
It all came to an end when an usher came down from the stands and got the ball, deflated it and the entire crowd booed him for doing it. Nora can’t understand why someone would want to take away such joy from people much less the job that usher has to literally snatch happiness away from a stadium full of fans. Laurie explains that the usher has to deflate that ball because if it goes onto the field then chaos ensues. This is Laurie’s elaborate explanation about the order of things — life and death — and how it all ends with the grieving process. Something she’s never embraced after the loss of her child and a concept Nora has never grasped since her children disappeared.
Now it’s time for Nora to gain closure and that means going through the device that these two physicists have created. She stays with her brother Matt as the stand on a hilltop overlooking the scientists down below. Laurie takes the van that Nora stole for the stakeout as she plans a visit to her ex-husband. She received a panicked call from her stepson Michael giving her the address the ranch where he’s now staying with his father and Kevin Garvey.
Laurie says her farewell to Nora as she appears to be ready to say goodbye forever.
Wherever I May Roam
The frantic call from Michael didn’t say much other than Laurie should rush to this ranch where she arrives and finds Kevin Garvey Sr. waiting to receive her. He’s concerned that she’s going to interfere with his plans to save the world, but Laurie insists she’s not there to cause problems.
Inside the house, Laurie finds out the grand scheme that Kevin Sr. has cooked up alongside his new gal pal Grace after tracking down his son in Australia. It seems they plan on killing Kevin yet again so he can travel over to purgatory where he’s been twice before so he can meet with the dearly departed Christopher Sunday to learn the final songline so he can pass it onto his father, who has learned all the others so he can chant and sing as he attempts to stop a great flood from ending the world on the seventh anniversary of the Sudden Departure.
Sounds easy enough, right?
It seems after Kevin Jr. learned about the plan, he rode off on one of Grace’s horses for the day to think about things but promised to return later that night.
Laurie is clearly skeptical — for obvious reasons — but she doesn’t object. Instead she just sits down to talk with her husband John about his involvement in this entire plan. John has a more personal investment in Kevin’s journey to the other side because that’s where he believes his daughter Evie has gone after she died in the bombing back in Jarden, Texas. While Evie’s death was easily accepted by his ex-wife Erika — thus giving her closure — it was an act that never sat well with John. He’s believed that Evie was still out there somewhere but even now when he’s convinced that she’s dead, he still wants a way to connect with her through Kevin.
But John doesn’t want to ask her any questions about why she joined the Guilty Remnant or why she committed that act on the bridge a few years ago in Texas just before her death. Instead, John says he just wants to pass along a message to his daughter — to tell her that she was loved.
John then explains how the boat that sits in Grace’s yard that Kevin Sr. saw as a sign that he met the right people to help him stop this great flood was actually a tribute to a friend that died several years ago. In other words, this boat that Kevin Sr. saw as a sign from above actually had a reasonable explanation as to why it was there but still John wants to believe in this plan so he’s going to continue to put his faith into this apocalyptic vision that will see his friend Kevin die and hopefully return from the dead.
The plan nearly runs awry when a police officer shows up to investigate his missing chief, who Grace killed a couple of weeks back when she believed he was Kevin the savior. When the cop gets too close to the truth, Kevin Sr. knocks him over the head with a shovel before dumping him in the middle of the outback. Kevin Sr. explains that if he has to spend the rest of his life in prison that’s a small price to pay for helping to save the world.
The Last Supper
Later that night, everybody sits down at dinner as Kevin Sr. waits for his son to return. Kevin Sr. remarks how this isn’t that unlike the last supper and how the people gathered around the table are somewhat like apostles awaiting their savior to join them. Kevin Sr. says he’ll play the part of Peter and John can be John because the name fits. Kevin Sr. then tells Laurie that she must be Thomas — as in doubting Thomas because she’s so skeptical about this plan they are about to unfurl.
Instead, Laurie counters by saying that she’s not Thomas because doubt is easy — she says in reality she’s Judas.
In the story from the bible, Judas didn’t just doubt Jesus’ acts but he actually betrayed him. Of course, Michael points out that Judas took his 30 pieces of silver and then killed himself. If he didn’t believe that Jesus was the savior, why would he take his own life after betraying him? Laurie can’t answer that question but she doesn’t need to because her own betrayal is already coming to light.
Kevin Sr. falls face first into his plate of food and before long John and Michael follow behind him. It seems Laurie used the same dog tranquilizers that knocked out Kevin Sr. for several days when he first arrived at Grace’s ranch to dose her loved ones to sleep.
Laurie didn’t poison the food so she could convince Kevin not to go through with this psychotic plan cooked up by his father to kill himself. Instead, Laurie just wanted a moment alone with her ex-husband so they could talk and she knew no one in the group would allow her that solitude out of fear that she was trying to convince him not to follow their plan.
When Kevin finally arrives home he sits down with Laurie and the two of them have a heart to heart talk while sharing a couple of cigarettes.
Both of them make some confessions about the time that they were married but Laurie drops the biggest bombshell when she finally tells Kevin about the child she was carrying on the day of the Sudden Depature. Kevin wonders why she never told him but Laurie explains that she knew neither of them wanted another child and the best thing they ever did together was raising Jill and Tommy together. Simply put, Laurie didn’t want to tell him about the baby and then by joining the Guilty Remnant, she couldn’t tell him because of her vow of silence.
She then asks Kevin if he’s scared about dying but his reply tells her everything she needs to hear. Kevin says that the two previous times he’s crossed over have made him fell more alive than anything else he’s ever experienced. He’s not afraid of dying — he can’t wait for it. Kevin then asks for Laurie to stay with him but she can’t be there for this when it happens.
As she leaves, Kevin offers her back the lighter — the same one she was so adamant about getting back from Nora earlier — but this time Laurie says she no longer needs it. This was her way of saying goodbye to Kevin.
The next time we see Laurie, she is on a boat riding into the middle of the ocean in Australia. She’s in her scuba diving outfit as a fitting homage to the scenario painted by Nora earlier in the episode. Just before she’s about to jump into the water, Laurie gets a call from her daughter Jill as she’s asking her mother about a tape she used to watch on repeat as a child. Laurie remembers the exact show her daughter was referencing while Jill and Tommy are laughing on the other end of the phone while talking to them from across the world.
Laurie says goodbye to her children with one final ‘I love you’ before hanging up the phone. Rather than spitting up the pills — metaphorically speaking — Laurie puts on the rest of her scuba diving outfit before jumping into the water. The scene fades to black and it’s clear that Laurie has gone under — for good.
When the Sudden Departure happened, Laurie wanted to gain closure by taking her own life but instead she found a way to cope by joining the Guilty Remnant instead. Now Laurie’s life has come full circle and she’s finally ready to let go.
Laurie finally found her closure.
Only two episodes remaining as ‘The Leftovers’ final season comes to an end with the penultimate episode next Sunday night at 9pm ET on HBO.