Dylan Moses Griffin

Where Is My Mind?: The Leftovers ‘I Live Here Now’ (Recap)

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As remarkable and near perfect this season of The Leftovers has been, it’s alarming to remember that the series still has not been renewed. Looking back, we barely got this season to begin with after the lukewarm reception for the initial installment. Damon Lindelof seems to know that this could very well be the end for the HBO series and makes sure to go out on a bang. If this is the last hour we spend watching The Leftovers, then “I Live Here Now” is certainly a historic one that successfully doubles as both a season finale and a series finale. Watching the concluding episode feels like watching the final pieces of a puzzle coming into place, revealing a stunning mosaic of characters, fate and consequences. Themes that stretched across the season snap into a new clarity, every storyline comes to a shocking crescendo. If I have one complaint for how Season Two has been constructed, it is that the new theme song never gets less annoying with each episode.

Drawing on the past and present, “I Live Here Now” weaves together a fully reconstructed timeline of events for a renewed clarity about the missing girls. Coming back from the grave jogs Kevin’s memory, he now remembers seeing Evie stage her disappearance before trying to kill himself at the quarry. Before Kevin can explain himself, John is informed of the matching handprint that ties Kevin to the incident. Kevin Carroll is the undeniable MVP of this season as John, with the scene between himself and Theroux in the dog pound serving as a reminder. John’s transition from hardened focus to trembling faith is captivatingly felt as he tries his best to understand Kevin’s claims. John just needs one answer in order to believe — Why? Why would Evie do this to them, to her family? Kevin firmly suggests that Evie maybe just didn’t love them. John responds with a bullet to Kevin’s chest.

Matt’s Job narrative pays off, as Mary wakes up after one of the quakes asking for him. A miracle occurs in Miracle with her lucidness, just before it all comes crashing down as Meg hijacks the bridge with claims of explosives. Out from the trailer step Evie and her friends, revealing themselves to the shocked congregation below. A countdown clock for one hour begins, creating a plot device that the episode milks for every possible bit of tension. Erika manages to get past the police blockade and rushes down the bridge to Evie in the final minutes of the countdown. Regina King masterfully navigates through a swell of emotions from shock, realization and ultimate horror behind Max Richter’s flawless scoring. She holds Evie, hugging her tight. Evie doesn’t respond at all, no matter how much Erika yells and holds her face. Evie just looks away, the emotional dissonance between the two amping up the already tense situation.

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At the end of the clock is no explosive, but an army of Guilty Remnant marching behind Evie to lead the camp people into Jarden. In the chaos, a lady steals Nora’s baby but leaves it stranded on the bridge. I’ve never been more stressed out than I was watching the baby lying on the bridge as people ran past. Nora throws herself over the child, calling back to the protective cavewoman who sacrificed herself for her child in “Axis Mundi,” probably the closest thing we would ever get to clarity for that bonkers season opener.

With all the pandemonium, it’s easy to forget about Kevin lying on the floor bleeding out. What a welcome twist to find Kevin slipping back out of the hotel tub naked. Verdi’s “Via Pensiero” kicks back in, and this time, Kevin frustratedly tries on the Police Chief’s uniform for a different pre-determined narrative. Just as things are boiling over in Jarden, Lindelof — in classic Leftovers fashion — veers from answers for that storyline to return to more questions in the black lodge/hotel. In this hour, we somehow got the best of both worlds of The Leftovers. The physical world and the surreal, Lynchian world of the hotel coexist in “I Live Here Now” as Kevin has to karaoke for his life, picking the strangely appropriate “Homeward Bound” by Simon & Garfunkel. The song begins to take on a personal meaning to Kevin, breaking him down further with each verse. The tune does the trick as he jolts back to life once more.

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Kevin navigates his way through the rave in the center of town to the urgent care, just in time for John to find him. The emotional piano cover of “Where is My Mind?” by The Pixies makes one final return as John cleans Kevin’s wound and the two experience a mutual admiration and forgiveness. John says, “I don’t understand what’s happening,” as there is nothing else to say about the day’s events, and Kevin silently agrees. It’s a moment of understanding and catharsis as these two men finally go from neighbors to friends. The transition between the two is emotionally capped off by a final exchange as they reach their street. John fearfully asks, “What if there’s nobody home?” — Kevin replies, “Then you come over to my house.” They wave, just like they did when they first saw each other in “Axis Mundi,” but with an emotional bond now in place.

In a show that’s so committed to depression, and in an episode so full of downfall, the shock of Evie’s reveal was matched by the emotionally comforting conclusion with Kevin’s whole family waiting for him in the living room. But then again, it couldn’t have ended any other way. At its core, The Leftovers is about rebuilding after trauma and how hope ultimately persists. The Garveys came to Jarden to feel safe, and now that they are all together again, that feeling can become a reality. The Leftovers may not be here next year, but Kevin arriving home to this comfort is just about as cathartic of an ending we could have asked for.

Dylan Moses Griffin has been a cinephile for as long as he can remember. His favorite film is Taxi Driver, and he reads the works of Roger Ebert like it’s scripture. If you want, he will talk to you for 30 minutes about the chronologically weird/amazing Fast and Furious franchise.

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