The Leftovers – REVIEW 03×08 “The Book of Nora”

Hi guys! “There’s no time to change your mind – the Son has come – you’ve been left behind”. The final chapter of our beloved The Leftovers has come and I couldn’t be more sad about the end of these three amazing years.

 Let’s start from the end. The ending scene is indeed crucial to understand the rest of the episode. The last dialogue between Kevin and Nora reminded me a lot of Grace’s monologue in front of Kevin Garvey Senior: they’re both older than before – some people is sure that 13 years passed since they last met in the hotel in Melbourne (Season 3 Episode 4) – and they have just found each other again after all that time. Kevin pretends he had only met Nora once, at the Christmas dance (Season 1 Episode 4), and that they never were together, and of course never fallen apart.  He stops pretending after a while, when he realizes that his plan of erasing all the pain they had experienced together wasn’t working at all, and he finally confesses: he had been looking for her for years, he had spent every two weeks holiday in Australia for the last 13 years without never giving up, showing a picture of Nora to every single person he had met. And now that he has finally found her, he’s not willing to give her up again. He apologizes for shouting at her the last time they talked, and for telling her she should be departed with her kids.

And that’s when Nora starts to tell her incredible story of how she travelled to another dimension, where the 98% of the world population departed, a world populated by the 140 million people who had departed from “their dimension”. She tells him she had found herself in the Australia of the other dimension, travelled by boat to New York – because in that world they don’t have enough pilots to make planes fly – and finally found her house in Mapleton. There, she waited for hours outside of her old house, waiting for someone to come outside and then someone did: her husband, with a new girlfriend, and her kids, older than she remembered, and happy. She then decided to go back to her world because in that dimension she was nothing but a ghost, and her children already had each other and didn’t need her anymore, so she looked for the inventor of the device that helped her cross through one dimension to the other and asked him to build another machine, so she could go back to the world where she belonged.

This was absolutely sad and heartbreaking and I felt so sorry for Nora. But I also felt that something didn’t feel right. I thought about it for a while, and then I started seeing everything differently: what if Nora didn’t necessarily tell the truth? At the beginning of the episode she said “I don’t lie”, but in fact she did.

I don’t think that Nora actually went through the machine. Let’s think about it for a moment… What happened when they invented the machine “in their dimension”? A LOT of people went through, 190 people used the device to be with their departed family members. So, if what she says were real, all the people of “our world” that went through the machine would now be in that other dimension, happily reunited with their family, and they would have started talking about this miraculous machine that can send you wherever your family went on October 14th. In a world where as much as the 98% of the world population is gone, people would have gone CRAZY. We saw what happened in the real world – where “only” the 2% of the world population had departed: people started to lose their minds, they started to join cults, to stone people to death, to worship a magic chicken, to bomb an island on the south pacific to kill a seven headed monster capable of ending the world, they bought mannequins looking like their departed loved ones, they put cities on fire, they started shooting dogs and worshipping a lion in a cage.

And there are more reasons why I think Nora didn’t go through the device:

1 – If another dimension populated by just 14 millions of people really existed, I’m pretty sure people would have reacted just like they did in the real world, or worst. And if there really was a chance to travel to the other world and join the other 98%, so many of them would have done it right away.

2 – Unlike Nora, people on the other dimension would have been sure that the machine really worked – because 190 people had already used it to reach them – and of course they would have come back en masse to their former world . But no. Nobody of the departed ever came back, not a single person. We would have known it if they did.  If that had really happened, the news would spread fast. But there’s no record of a departed coming back from the other side. Nora is the only person alive claiming she visited this parallel world, but there is absolutely no proof that it actually exists.

3 – It’s highly unlikely that Doctor Van Eeghen built such a device in a world where they weren’t even able to make planes fly. And he would have built another device just for Nora, with nobody else willing to use it…  And given that what she’s saying is true, how did she find Doctor Van Eeghen?

4 – Also, she was clearly yelling “STOP!” at the beginning of the episode, before the liquid inside could reach her face…

She didn’t go through. She just ran away, just like she was going to do the first time, right before finding Lily… I think she never believed that the device would have worked. When she decided to go through it, she just wanted to die, having a 1% chance of reuniting with her kids. But then she got scared and decided to stop. What she told is just the story she wants to believe in: the story of two kids who lost their mom but still have their dad and a happy life. She wants to believe in a world that is struggling to go on, but makes it anyway. She wants to believe that her children are alive and happy, and that they were able to start their life over, and succeed where she failed.

These are some other things that strengthen my conviction that Nora is lying:

1 – This interview to Damon Lindelof on the official website:

HBO: Why did you have her explain — rather than show — her journey to the other side?

Damon Lindelof: Because the show has always been about the stories we tell to make ourselves feel better.

2 – Nora being called a liar by Doctor Becker and Doctor Eden at the beginning of the episode

3 – Nora being called a liar again by the nun

4 – The nun saying “It’s just a nicer story” might also be a reference to Nora’s journey in the world of the departed.

After changing her mind and refusing to go through the machine, Nora gave up on life, changed her name and ran away. It almost feels like there was still a little sparkle of hope inside of her: she stayed in Australia, right where she had last seen Kevin, a very big country indeed, and full of people, where it’s really difficult to find someone but still not impossibile.

I think this is it, Kevin and Nora have found each other again and this time they’re not gonna let their relationship fail. Kevin proved to love her in every possibile way, and now she knows she has something to live for.

Honestly, seeing them together now that they’re old is a little unsettling. I wasn’t sure whether I was enjoying this final episode or not in the beginning. This wasn’t what I was expecting to see, I was hoping to see Jill and Tom again and I thought Laurie was dead, so this episode all focused on Nora and Kevin has really caught me by surprise. But it’s fine. I’m happy about them being together and I’m happy about how things turned out. Kevin and Nora deserve to be happy and together. It took them a long time to realize how important they were to each other, but this show taught us that it’s never too late to start loving again, to start feeling again and to move on. These amazing characters have lived in a world with no certainties,  a world that let everybody down in the most terrible way – by making loved people disappear, by making love a dangerous path to take, by making the creation of a new family an hazard – and now they’ve made it through and they’re all ready to move on. Some of them already did, others are just starting to put their lives together for the first time after ages. The real apocalypse was inside this people hearts, and – just like the world didn’t end – their lives didn’t either.

It breaks my heart to say goodbye to this show. It’s been a wonderful  three years journey, and I wish it would have lasted forever. Just like the characters of The Leftovers we’re now ready to face our lives after this little big Departure. But let’s pretend there is no end.

Same time next week?

 

INTERESTING FACTS:

– The opening scene with Nora and Matt is one of the saddest and sweetest moments of the show: Matt is broken, he has lost his faith and he’s scared of dying. He’s ready to come back to Mary and Noah but he doesn’t know how to face his illness and how to guide people through this difficult times because he feels like he has no answers anymore. In this scene he’s trying to make Nora’s last moments funny, like he did when they were little. He’s not trying to stop her anymore, he just wants her to get what she wants. Matt’s story breaks my heart, because it really looks like everything he always believed him brought him to be alone, to lose his wife, his son, his sister and eventually his faith. He has nothing to live for anymore and he’s sick. At the end of the episode we will find out that Matt is dead and that he had a beautiful funeral, with over 400 people attending. It also looks like he got back together with Mary.

Why are Doctor Bekker and Doctor Eden promoting their device? Maybe they are genuinely  convinced that it works. Or maybe they’re not sure, and they only allow people who has no more reason to live.

Nora is wearing white right before entering the event chamber.

– AAAnd for the last time, we hear about Cairo.

Nora into the event chamber looks exactly like the French naked man on the submarine (Season 3 Episode 5)

– Nora put hers money in a jar, just like K.G. Senior did when he left 20.000 dollars for Matt.

– Laurie and Nora on the phone look like two teenage friends, gossiping about a boy. <3

– In this episode Nora and Kevin are dancing to a Otis Redding song. In Season 1 Episode 4, they met at the Christmas Ball, with another Otis Redding song in the background.

Kevin tells Nora he has a heart condition and that he has a scar right under his heart due to the insertion of a pace-maker – just like Kevin Harvey had a scar in the same spot, due to the removal of the “key” that allowed to destroy the world on the other side.

Nora frees the goat from the bead necklaces which represent all the sins in the world, she puts them around her own neck, taking her place. This scene reminded me of Season 2 Episode 5, when Matt frees the man in the stocks and takes his place, claiming it was his turn.

Nora changes the paper towel roll, just like she did right after Wayne hugged her pain away. Changing the paper towel roll was the last thing she did before her kids disappeared, and she left it there for three years after the Departure. This time, she puts the pearls on it. This might be a metaphor: Nora is finally accepting all her sins and she’s ready to move on.

– Nora’s house in Australia looks exactly like the houses of Season 3 opening scene, with the Millerite woman.

 

– Laurie is still alive and she’s holding Jill’s daughter in her arms. <3 This is a big surprise, we were all so sure that she committed suicide in Certified and no one was expecting to see her again. We also found out that she’s still living with John and that Michael is running the church. Maybe Jill and Tom’s phone call really changed her mind and save her. She was also able to keep her promise to Nora – same time, next week –

– In the very last scene of the show Nora’s birds come back with the love messages. She says they are trained to come back home – so is Kevin?