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The Leftovers “I Live Here Now” Review (2×10)

6 Dec

Justin-Theroux-The-Leftovers-Season-2-Episode-10

“I don’t understand what’s happening.”

What a finish to an absolutely incredible season of television. This is a finale that could’ve easily been overstuffed, that could’ve easily collapsed under the weight of the myriad storylines and questions circulating in the show. Yet, it finds a wonderful balance between providing some form of closure plot-wise and delivering the full emotional power behind its characters. It’s just brilliant all around, and it cements this show as one of the best on television (if not THE best).

It’s an episode that focuses on a large amount of characters, but it derives its central theme from the dynamic between John and Kevin. With the former, we have someone who refuses to let go–represented by the dead cricket–and who doesn’t understand why Evie would leave him. He is more torn up about the fact that she chose this than he would be if she actually departed, and all of this pent up uncertainty and anger and heartbreak explodes when he shoots Kevin. He just cannot come to grips with any of this, and the calm and collected man we saw at the beginning of the season ends up sobbing his eyes out in front of the supposedly ‘crazy’ one.

But that’s sort of the point, isn’t it? In that situation, would any of us really understand what was going on? Do any of these characters really understand what’s going on? The answer is no. The show is all about coping with uncertainty, about buying into some form of faith; whether that’s a good or a bad thing is left up to you, but what the show makes clear is that it is necessary. One of those beliefs is in the power of family and love, and that belief can waver when something like the Departure rips you from the people you love. In the end, though, it’s what helps you get through the pain. “Family is everything,” Meg tells Tommy before they initiate their plan, and although her worldview is completely different in this regard, the words themselves are key.

This is what Kevin learns in this episode, after all. He returns to the Hotel from Hell, but he ends up choosing the Sheriff’s uniform instead of the assassin’s. On paper, him singing karaoke–Simon & Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound”–doesn’t seem like the most exciting season climax in the world, but it works brilliantly here. This is in part due to Justin Theroux’s performance and in part due to the thematic power of the moment, and this entire sequence is a representation of his realization of who he really is (and what’s really important in his life). “I have a family, and I love them,” he says through tears, and it’s a truly beautiful and deeply affecting moment. It’s a genuine human idea, even if it may be complicated by the world around him.

And when he returns home, the people he cares about are still there, excited to see him as he walks in the door. This is one of the most hopeful images of the series thus far, and it’s an encapsulation of all the best elements of the show. Here’s Kevin Garvey, someone who has loved and lost and messed up and died…multiple times. Here’s a world in which hope seems to fall by the wayside, in which nihilism appears to win out as conflicts progressively grow more dire. Yet, here’s a group of people finally reunited, connected even as the world burns around them.

GRADE: A

SEASON GRADE: A-

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Lots of parallels to Kevin’s journey in the season one finale.

-So, there are definitely miracles in Miracle, right?

-The entire bridge sequence is just so well done on all fronts. Nice full circle with Tommy ending up as the one to save Lily, and great work by Carrie Coon when she sees Lily lying on the ground.

-Dog! Dog! Dog! Dog!

-What a performance by Regina King on that bridge. Last year, I found Carrie Coon and Christopher Eccleston to be the highlights. This year, pretty much everyone is amazing; this cast is definitely going to have a large influence on my year end list of performances. Shout out to the moment in which Matt sees Mary again. That smile…man.

-Max Richter’s score returns in full force tonight, and I love it just as much as I did in season one.

-As you might have noticed, this was my only weekly reviewed show on the site this fall. This was mostly due to other time commitments, so I had to pick the one show that consistently fascinated me and probed my mind. This was it. Sadly, the ratings have been abysmal this season, but let’s hope HBO still finds some way to keep it going. Thanks for reading.

Photo credit: HBO, The Leftovers

 

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4 Responses to “The Leftovers “I Live Here Now” Review (2×10)”

  1. karzaner December 7, 2015 at 11:52 am #

    I am super hopeful that we have a third season. This was one of it not my favorite of television ever! Everything about it was amazing. My question is why do you think they wrote it in such a way that Kevin had to die again. I thought his first trip in to the after life was the point in which we understood that he really loved his family and that he was wiling to do anything to get back. Were they just reinforcing this family theme or was there some other purpose to having him die again. And what’s up with the dogs?

    • polarbears16 December 9, 2015 at 5:06 pm #

      That’s a really interesting question that I’ve been thinking about over the last few days. I’m starting to maybe take a different perspective on “International Assassin” now, and I really don’t have a solid answer for you ( I might come up with something some day down the road).

      I will say though that in this particular episode, him dying again felt necessary in order to both reinforce that family theme again and have him choose a different route. There’s also the miracle theme to keep in mind here, something they emphasized in the finale.

      As for the dogs, I saw it as another element of that full circle (remember that dog in season one?).

      Thanks for the interesting comment!

  2. sarah9461 December 9, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

    I have loved both seasons, but at the end, when Kevin walked into his house full of his whole family, I started humming “When the Circle, won’t be broken, bye and bye, Lord, bye and bye.” (I am born and bred Southern Appalachian.) As for their neighbors, I don’t know how they will cope with the willful departure of their daughter. And Mary’s return was a REAL miracle – I’m and RN, I know those things are few and far between. Can I nominate Nora for Sainthood? Caring for a baby that is not hers, a surly step-daughter, her wheelchair-bound sister-in-law and a crazy boyfriend whose ex-wife just walked back in with their troubled son – I would have run away by now.
    And Liv Tyler, she just does what she wants to and doesn’t follow the GR book. I love her for that.

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  1. My Top 20 Television Shows of 2015 | Polar Bears Watch TV - January 3, 2016

    […] The Leftovers: I loved season one, but I understand why season two has been met with so much more acclaim. It […]

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