The season 2 finale –and perhaps the entire second season – of The Leftovers can be summed up in one quote from Meg: “Family is everything.”
Since the first episode, we’ve been centered around this new family, The Murphys, who have secrets and issues, but seem to be a family that loves each other regardless. As their story unspools, we learn this family is not as wholesome and put-together as it seemed: Erika wanted to leave John; John’s been in prison for attempted murder (and is sort of a whack job anyway); Michael goes behind his parents back to visit his grandfather, Virgil; Virgil molested John; and Evie staged her disappearance in an elaborate plot to break down the walls (so to speak) of Miracle, so the Guilty Remnant can flood the town and cause chaos on the day of remembrance.
John and Kevin have a particularly important moment together toward the end of the episode where they sort of switch roles: When John confronts Kevin about taking Evie, Kevin tells John exactly what happened the night of her “disappearance” (which Evie and her friends staged). Kevin tells John he didn’t remember until today – the 4th anniversary of The Departure – because he died and came back to life. John asks why Evie would do that to a family she loves and Kevin replies, “Maybe she didn’t (love you).” You can quite clearly see the hurt wash over John’s face as he realizes this could be true. He lashes out at Kevin and shoots him in the gut, killing him (or so he thinks).
As he walks away, he’s hustled off by the cops to see an all-white clad Evie standing on the bridge between inside and outside of Miracle, with a trailer believed to be rigged with explosives. Erika rushes onto the bridge to get Evie to talk to her, which she won’t do. Erika is emotionally signing to Evie trying to evoke a response from her – nothing. Erika says she’ll have to blow her up along with bridge – again, no real response.
In these moments you can see the Murphy family realizing they are falling apart. For a family who, in the beginning, seemed to be blunt with each other and not really have secrets, we now see them spilling out everywhere. John and Erika have a defining moment over the gift Evie left for John before she disappeared – a dead cricket which Erika quickly tells John she heard the cricket after she left; Michael and Erika have a moment of their own at church, when he tells the congregation and his mother the real story behind him and Evie flooding the bathtub when they were younger, bawling as she wondered why their father was gone. These little moments shatter the façade this family had right in front of us. Of course, we always knew they were a little off, but I don’t think they knew it themselves.
By the end of the episode, John’s family is in shambles, much the way Kevin’s family was in the season 1: his wife has left him, his daughter is angry and hates him, and his son is lost and confused. On the flip side, Kevin’s family seems to be complete again – or perhaps for the first time.
After John shoots Kevin, he finds himself back in the hotel of the alternate reality he killed Patti in. This time, he chooses the wear his police uniform, perhaps as an homage to his former life, rather than the assassin’s suit. I imagine this is because his purpose in this world is different. Before, he was there to kill Patti, but this time, he’s there to find his way back home. He makes his way down to the hotel lobby bar where Karaoke is going on. He finds the man who he saw on the bridge the first go-round, who tells him how to get back: he must spin the wheel and sing. After much hesitation, Kevin agrees and performs a terribly haunting and sad version of ‘Homeward Bound’ by Simon & Garfunkel.
I literally cannot think of a better song better suited for Kevin at this point in time. He’s in this weird limbo of discovering a new love for life and appreciation for those he has in his life, which makes his fight to get back to the real world that much more intense. While he sings, we see flashes of his life with Laurie before The Departure and Nora. You can hear in his shaky voice he’s realizing all the things he could’ve done better or different, which he seems to carry forward when he returns to life.
In the last scene, John asks Kevin what to do if no one’s home; Kevin tells him to come over, which seems rather neighborly considering John just shot him. After John enters his home, there’s a big earthquake before Kevin finds his way inside his house, where he finds Jill, Laurie, Matt, Mary – who is officially awake (how?!) and confirming Matt’s story – Tommy, Lily, and Nora; his entire family reunited in one room while John may or may not have entered an empty home.
There’s no word on whether or not there will be a season 3 yet (please, oh please!), but I feel like if this was the end of the road for the The Leftovers, things were summed up nicely, despite the hundreds of questions I still have floating around my head. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t watch a season 3!