‘The Leftovers’ 2.10 or Family is Everything or There’s No Place Like Home

Leftovers 2x10

Sunday’s second season finale of The Leftovers was brought to you by the letter F. F stands for Family. Family over everything. In the past two weeks I’ve discussed the problematic issue of human attachment as it plagues the characters of this post-Departure universe. More specifically these questions: are attachment and love mutually exclusive, and can the latter exist without the former? Further, does either emotion serve humanity in any way? Sunday’s episode did not answer the question with a definitive YES but it certainly hinted towards its best argument: family.

Leftovers 2x10 meg floor

Tom: “There is no family. I thought that was the point.”
Meg: “Now who told you that? Family is everything.”

The simple conflict would have been the one reflected in Tom’s misunderstanding of Meg’s philosophy as one which challenges the importance of family (“There is no family”).  To the writers outstanding merit, the much more complicated reality is that Meg and the GR acknowledge it, recognize it as the open wound that it has become after the departure, and rub salt, alcohol and gunpowder in it… over… and over… and over. Giving it no chance to truly heal, only to be felt and endured.

Kevin Garvey’s tearstained face in the final shot of the episode tells of that pain, no doubt. Of course, it also speaks of the love and joy and solace that he finds in the faces of his family, all alive and, in their togetherness, happy. Enduring.

“I wanted to see what would happen.” – Evie

I ended last week questioning whether we believed Evie’s staged disappearance or found the whole thing too deux ex machina. I had a feeling that it made sense in the grand scheme, and was pleasantly surprised that I had not figured it out sooner (gladly, and kudos to the writing staff!). After watching the flashback components of Evie’s disappearance from her POV in the finale, I must say it really was there all along. The way the girls rode in silence when they were alone, the goodbye gift, even the fact that the car they drove away in was white. Another lovely tie back was the story of the overflowing bathtub as retold by Michael at the October 14th church service, as he reminded us of Evie’s words, “I wanted to see what would happen.” Except we learned this was not a confession, rather a lie just as was her disappearance. What more does the Guilty Remnant do if not destroy things so the world can see what happens when they do. Lie or not, she’s had it in her all along.

“Ev’ry day’s an endless stream
Of cigarettes and magazines.
And each town looks the same to me, the movies and the factories
And ev’ry stranger’s face I see reminds me that I long to be
Homeward bound”

If you read my post last week about the deeply significant use of music on The Leftovers, perhaps you got a good chuckle at Kevin’s Karaoke salvation in the finale. Maybe you were too busy crying (as I was) to laugh at all. Whatever the case, I think we can all agree that every word to every song on this series is purposeful, meaningful, and powerful in creating and even revealing the secrets of the characters and the world. Just as they did for Kevin.

The title of Simon and Garfunkle’s song “Homeward Bound”, and its lyrics, are straightforward and require no deciphering. Justin Theroux’s deeply heartfelt performance of each word came with a recognizable and heartbreaking emotion or inflection that revealed quite perfectly its purpose. GO HOME! I made an analogy to Kevin being somewhat like Dorothy in Oz in episode 2.08 roaming through a dreamlike state of his own creation. Well, Dorothy came back in the finale when, through the power of Karaoke, he clicked his proverbial heels three times and realized that there’s no place like home. But what is home if not a place? If the place where you “live (here) now” has been destroyed? If no matter where you go, there you are, and you are always “homeward bound”, then home is not a place but a thing you carry or can carry. A thing like family. A thing like love. If attachment wants to attach itself to all that, and then death or departure or heartbreak wants to tear it all away from us, then that will be pain, and it will be… endured.

As a side note, what of the National Geographic magazine from last year’s season finale which was shown in flashback during Kevin’s rendition of Simon and Garfunkle’s “Homeward Bound”?  We never found out what that was all about and yet there it was again. Theories? What role will Kevin’s father play in the third season (if fans get their way and it is renewed)?

We can speculate away — I surely could — but as a friend of mine said after the finale: “The show could end right now. It really could.” What did you all think?

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