Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) and Nora Durst (Carrie Coon) have never made a whole lot of sense as a couple, which is why their pairing on The Leftovers made perfect sense. Apart from their shared rejection of any sort of divine explanation for the Sudden Departure, they were never established to have a whole lot in common. They were just two people who were able to find some release in each other with the understanding that they were both too damaged to really come back from whatever losses they had incurred in the past.
So when their relationship seems to fall apart in “G’Day Melbourne,” the dissolution is both heartbreaking and a completely natural result of everything that preceded it. Their paths became intertwined for a while, and now a variety of factors have seen fit to untangle them.
But before I get ahead of myself, let’s recall how we got here.
After the events of “Don’t Be Ridiculous,” Kevin and Nora head to Australia so that Nora can expose the people claiming to be able to induce departures for the frauds she believes they are. At least, this is what she has told Kevin. In fact, we don’t know if this is simply a lie she’s telling to hide the fact that she’s willing to risk death to be with her children again.
After an uneventful flight, the couple arrives in Melbourne and, after checking into their hotel, almost immediately go their separate ways. The remainder of the episode sees them embarking on parallel adventures which leave them both feeling more alone than ever.
Nora, after receiving a cryptic call from the scientists she has come to meet, gets on a bus which takes her to a seemingly abandoned warehouse (though this is only after she experiences what may or may not be a test of her character in the form of a desperate mother leaving a baby in her arms). She meets the scientists and undergoes a medical examination, but when she is later subject to questioning by the two women in charge of her potential procedure, she fails to impress and is denied further access to the project.
Kevin, meanwhile, sees a young woman who appears to be the long-deceased Evie Murphy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) on a live TV recording. He finds her in person and snaps a photo which he sends to Laurie (for reasons not exactly expounded upon). His ex-wife, in turn, tries to gently lead him to the conclusion that he may actually be losing his mind. Evie, as it happens, was just a random woman, and contrary to what prior experience would have him believe, Kevin isn’t seeing a ghost.
Interestingly, in this episode, both Kevin and Nora illustrate quite powerfully one thing they now have in common: they are no longer willing to be the playthings of forces beyond their control, and as a result, no longer play by society’s rules. Both of them, likely due to the numbing effect of the tragedies they had endured, used to react fairly passively as the world went mad around them. But they can only take so much cosmic abuse.
When Kevin was first subject to visions of Patti’s ghost, he tried to run away, and eventually attempted suicide to be free of her. Now, when he sees Evie where she shouldn’t be, he goes after her and demands answers. He doesn’t care what the local authorities say, and will stop at nothing until he gets an explanation.
Nora, meanwhile, won’t let anything get it the way of her goals. When a random woman hands her a baby as she’s waiting for a bus, she leaves neither bus nor baby behind, as we might expect. Instead, she returns the baby to its mother before catching up to the bus and continuing on her journey. It’s as though the universe attempted to force her hand and she took the third option instead.
When Kevin and Nora return to the hotel room, neither has gotten what they wanted. Kevin has more questions than answers and Nora is no closer to the catharsis she desires. But those aren’t the only things bothering them. Kevin, unsure of his own sanity or indeed the nature of his reality, needs someone he can depend on to tell him everything will be okay. Nora, unable still to fill the void left by her departed family, wants Kevin to understand her. Both of them enter into their arrangement with the understanding that their would be no judgment, but now there is nothing but.
We leave off with Kevin joining his father (and Grace), and in essence embracing his mental illness, while Nora sits alone in a burning hotel room, slowly being soaked by the sprinkler. As always, Kevin is most at home in the madhouse, Nora with a family that no longer exists.
We’ll see if they reconcile, but the ending of the season premiere tells me they won’t. Kevin will fully embrace the other side that Nora craved; Nora will remain in this world, forever vindicated but alone.
Or, who knows, maybe we’ll get a happy ending.
- The man Kevin Sr. met in the previous episode claimed letting the baby live was the incorrect answer. This week, Nora is rejected when she says the baby should be killed. Is there a right answer at all, or was Nora rejected for another reason entirely?
- Grace is definitely going to want to drown Kevin (Jr).
- There were three different versions of “Take On Me” in the episode, which somehow created their only little musical narrative throughline. I’m not sure what it meant, but it sure was cool.