The Leftovers Finale Recap: The Fiery End of the Beginning
Season 1 ends with a bang, but the questions remain
Sunday night, HBO’s eerie drama signed off in explosive fashion. But in the midst of the chaos, the splintered Garvey clan seemed to find a way back to one another, if only for a moment. Only the baggage they’re all carrying is more than any one family should bear.
Sins of the Father
After the penultimate episode went back in time to Oct. 14, the date of the disappearances, the finale returned to the present, opening with Chief Garvey (Justin Theroux) dazed and confused and still keeping watch over Patti’s bloody corpse.
Soon, a family friend, Father Matt (Christopher Eccleston), arrives. Garvey warns him not to touch the body, but being the good friend that he is, he does more than that. After helping the bewildered chief bury Patti (Ann Dowd), he helps to cleanse him of his sins, giving him a jug of water to wash off the blood, as well as fresh clothes. The two hit the road hoping to leave Garvey’s guilt behind.
The Kids Are Not Alright
Elsewhere, Garvey’s stepson Tom (Chris Zylka) is sitting with Christine (Annie Q.) and her new baby. Christine’s convinced their mystic leader, and father of her child, Wayne, duped her and that he’s never coming back. When the baby needs to be fed and cleaned, they stop at a park bathroom. Distracted by a missionary asking if he needs help, Tom doesn’t notice Christine take off. He finds the weeping babe left behind in the stall.
His sister Jill (Margaret Qualley), who previously showed up at the Guilty Remnant house, is getting a crash course in the cult’s activities. She sits at a table smoking with her silent but disapproving mom Laurie (Amy Brenneman) looking on. “Not tonight,” Laurie writes to Jill, telling her their upcoming stunt will be too dangerous for a new initiate. But when Laurie refuses to talk to her, Jill puts on the white clothes in defiance.
Nora Durst (Carrie Coon) wakes up the next morning to what Patti and the Guilty Remnant had been brewing up. As she rounds her kitchen corner, she finds her departed family at the table as if they’d never left. Only they’re just still, lifelike mannequins of her brood, clothed and poised. She crumbles in tears at the sight.
As Garvey and Father Matt drive back to Mapleton, the chief makes the mistake of falling asleep again. He awakens as he’s being dragged into an asylum. When the orderly takes him from his padded room to watch TV, he sees his father. Soon Garvey can hear the voice to whom Garvey Sr. is talking. He turns, and it’s Patti. The apparition mounts Garvey and gives him a kiss.
But soon Garvey really comes to, shaken and still in the car with Father Matt. They stop at a diner, where he tries to explain what Patti was saying before she killed herself. Garvey claims he knows why he didn’t disappear, saying, “Before it happened I wanted to be free of my family.” But immediately following the event, he had found Jill and Tom at the school and Laurie at home. He says, “I just wanted to hold them. And then I started to lose them one by one.”
When Garvey goes to use the bathroom, he hears a man moaning and sees blood. Inside the stall he finds Wayne (Paterson Joseph) on a toilet, near death. Wayne asks Garvey to make a silent wish, and confirms it’s been granted before he falls lifeless against the stall wall. A SWAT team bursts into the bathroom and takes Wayne away before Father Matt and a weary Garvey continue on to Mapleton.
Rage and Retaliation
It’s anarchy in the streets of his hometown as citizens at their wits’ end attack the GR for their latest, greatest invasion of memory. The cult’s entire cul-de-sac is ablaze. When Garvey sees a man attacking Laurie, he comes to her rescue, only to hear the first words she’s spoken in months. “Jill!” she yells, pointing to the burning house.
Garvey runs inside, busting down doors and stepping over cult members looking for his daughter. In a fiery room upstairs he finds her on the floor, weak with smoke inhalation. Outside he kisses her as Laurie looks on feeling guilty. Laurie later heads over to the beach near town. As she stands on the water’s edge, Tom pulls up, and the mother and her returned son join hands.
The next morning Nora finally leaves her faux family at the breakfast table to write Garvey a goodbye letter, saying she loves him, but she has to get away. While delivering the note to his house she finds something else for Garvey. Tom has left Christine’s baby on the doorstep. Holding hands, Garvey and Jill walk up as Nora turns smiling, holding the child, saying, “Look what I found?”
Is Garvey really crazy? Has Laurie given up the Guilty? Will Nora raise the baby? What really happened on the 14th? And most important, why all the chain-smoking? All these questions and more are left over for season two of The Leftovers.