The Leftovers

The Leftovers Season 3 Episode 8 Series Finale Recap | The Book of Nora

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The Leftovers 2017: Season 3 Episode 8 Recap - Book of Nora

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Nothing is answered. Everything is answered. And then it ends.
Josh Wigler (@roundhoward) and Antonio Mazzaro (@acmazzaro) return to podcast messages of love for the series finale of The Leftovers.
You’re here. Would you like a cup of tea? Stay awhile as an ambiguous story is told and tugged at, goats are discussed–of the animal and best actress on TV variety–and events are tallied at the end of a journey. And don’t forget your beads, lest you incur the wrath of The Great Antonio in the Sky and his gecko Josh.
We would love to hear your questions and comments about the finale and series as a whole. You can send them in through Twitter and via our feedback form You can also EMAIL your thoughts and questions to [email protected]m.
  • Charles Bikle

    Other than the very, very slow pacing of the episode, this ending worked for me.

    Was really not expecting any kind of answer as to where the 2 % went, but, I liked Nora’s answer to that (if you believe her).

    I don’t know that this episode needed to be any longer than half an hour, but I have no idea what they’d do with the extra time.

    Anyways, I agree with Josh, Lindelof was able to land the ending. Pretty much.

    • TrentC

      I have to say that I’m hung up on two things.

      1) I realize the majority of viewers along with Josh and Antonio are saying they don’t need to find out the truth of what happened and/or don’t care what the answer is. But isn’t that a large part of why we watch three seasons of a show and become invested in the characters? If none of the strange happenings and seemingly spiritual/supernatural events carry any weight and can be written off after the fact, why even show them at all? It seems like I saw 27 episodes of plot-teasing that really amounted to nothing if I subscribe to the now popular takeaway of – The important thing is, we’re here now and let’s just move forward. They could of just done that in episode one right after the departure.

      2) I guess I shouldn’t be trying to dissect the logic in Nora’s machine experience. As Kevin said ‘You’re here now’, implying that it didn’t matter to him if Nora was lying or delusional or telling him the truth about the events leading up to her disappearance/death.

      I discovered what was bothering me about her story. The return trip. If she went to the alternate world where only 2% of the population existed, and that world felt like they instantly lost 98% of their friends and relatives, wouldn’t there be a huge influx of people trying to get back? And as Antonio briefly alluded to, would those people really be happy in that new world with 98% of their friends and relatives gone?

      The Leftovers has become one of my top five television experiences. The acting and writing has been phenomenal. But when a show pulls a Lost or a Sopranos, it becomes frustrating. I think you can only be ambiguous to a point and then something is owed to the viewers. My only disappointment with the series was the last episode. It seemed like everything that preceded the finale became unimportant. When really some, if not all of the previous events in the series were monumental and life altering to the characters. I don’t think you can wipe that particular slate clean just to say – Well, we’re here now. Who cares how we got here.

      • REG

        “The important thing is, we’re here now and let’s just move forward. They could of just done that in episode one right after the departure.”

        That’s literally the entire story…

      • Charles Bikle

        “I realize the majority of viewers along with Josh and Antonio are
        saying they don’t need to find out the truth of what happened and/or
        don’t care what the answer is. But isn’t that a large part of why we
        watch three seasons of a show and become invested in the characters?”

        Normally I’d agree with you, but for a Lindelof show, I’m surprised we even got this much of an answer.

        Also, the novel never answers how/why the Departure happened.

        Like Steven King, Lindelof is a pretty creative writer, but has trouble with endings, so the bar for my expectations of the finale was set pretty low.

        • TrentC

          Yes I was surprised that Nora even started talking about it to Kevin.

          Below in quotes is from another post and I think it’s worth repeating. I certainly didn’t hate the ending and wasn’t looking for a 10 point scientific explanation into the mechanics of the departure. The finale was more than I expected and I could watch Carrie Coon for hours, which equates to a non-botched ending in my world.

          “It was a fine and fitting ending to the series, just not one I wanted to see.”

      • GeekFurious

        I feel like you are talking in circles here. The WHOLE EPISODE is about character investment. Hell, the series is only about that. The answers don’t matter. Only these people. People aren’t about answers, they’re about searching and believing whether facts line up with their searching and believing.

        • TrentC

          I think as individuals we all look for different things out of our viewing experiences. And I know we’re allowed to determine if answers do matter and what is ultimately satisfying when a series ends.

          For example, I would never thrust my viewpoint on another person and imply ‘they’re wrong’ in terms of how they feel about something. It’s like arguing about the taste of food. Some palates are different based on individual expectations.

          That said, I posted at 2 am right after watching the finale and probably should have let it sink in for a few days. I’m appreciating the finale more after thinking about it for awhile.

  • RobHasAnOddPast

    I felt like Nora was telling the truth when she told Kevin about crossing over to the other world and coming back. Only the crossing over happened in her head. As she was curled up in the machine she imagined what it would be like to cross over (stepping out to an empty parking lot, visiting her kids, seeing them happy).

    This is when she realizes she actually belongs in this world, she yells “STOP” and that’s her “coming back”.

  • Tim Sears

    I thought it was a good ending. I am curious about the symbolism of the pigeon relates to the scenes of the Millerites that was introduced in the beginning of this season.

  • HomerBrannon1

    I think Nora lied. Her story has too many holes. If our world lost 2 percent of the population, then the alternative world lost 98 percent. The world couldn’t even function. So she had this scientist build another machine, but she had him build it in Australia? Or she came through in North American and decided to go back to Australia for no good reason? And why would he build that for her in the first place? Why not mass produce it and start sending everyone back?

    I don’t know, as I type this I can think of plenty of counter arguments. Guess that’s what makes the finale so good. Ambiguity works, sometimes. And for the record, I loved the “Lost” finale, so maybe that shreds my credibility.

    • TrentC

      I believe Nora said she came out naked in the same parking lot, minus the trucks and the people. Then she said it took a long time to get to North America. My first thought was that the people drugged her, packed up the equipment and left her there. She either created the rest of the story for Kevin or had that particular hallucination while unconscious about being in Mapleton and seeing her kids.

      • Anna

        I had that same first thought too!

    • GeekFurious

      There’s no reason not to love the LOST finale. It was great. Season 6, on the other hand… so-so. But the finale? Loved it. And like I said above, I’m pretty sure she’s lying. The flashing neon sign is her “and I got him to build it and so I’m here.” Like, wow. That’s the biggest yada-yada in history.

  • Ben Brown

    I think this is an episode that I need to rewatch to enjoy.

    When the last thing we see is Nora almost fully submerged in the liquid version of the terminator bubble and then we get the time skip and happy Kevin (plus Laurie being alive) I didn’t think this was the ‘real world’ until Kevin dropped the facade.

    Once Kevin started talking like himself I was able to appreciate the episode a lot more.

    The one idea that I do have regarding Nora is that maybe she had some sort of mental breakdown and truly believes that she went to the departed side. After all it seems to have brought her the closure that she needed, where for her there was no doubt that her children were okay and she doesn’t wonder anymore.

    I don’t think I can buy that there is a machine one the other side that brings people to the world of the 98% and it isn’t in the highest of demand. For the 98% most people would have to leave more behind then what they would be going to fine but the opposite would be true in the world of the 2%.

    • Charles Bikle

      Since both Nora and the inventor of this machine know that it really does work, the only reason NOT to mass-produce it (as best as they could) is that it doesn’t necessarily work for everyone – maybe that’s why those 2 scientists ask the dopey questions ? Maybe there’s some psycho-spiritual component involved in the transfer ? Maybe not everyone made it over alive ?

  • Edwin Hernandez

    I agree with Josh that Nora was telling the truth. Great finale but im sad this amazing show is done with 🙁

  • TrentC

    Without listening to the podcast I must admit to not liking the finale. The acting and tone was great, but it reminded me of the Lost finale. One through-line explained with a lot of feeling and every other plot point from the past ignored.

    The through-line here was the one I thought they would never address. What happened to people that departed? We hear from the biggest skeptic on the show about how she went to the other side/alternate world and got back again.

    If Nora is our only Reliable Narrator, there is only 2% of the population living in the alternate world. Approximately 140 million people. And they’re happy?

    I mentioned in a post below I thought Nora created an internal hallucination while unconscious in the machine, then the machine people packed up shop, made sure she was physically okay, and left her there. I think Nora is/was broken and needed a piece of anything to feel complete again. Her mind filled in the blank.

    The writer/producers used the biggest nonbeliever character to give us ‘the’ answer and still kept it ambiguous enough to wonder about the legitimacy of her story.

    It was a fine and fitting ending to the series, just not one I wanted to see.

  • Tiffany

    I think Nora was telling the truth as well. At the very least we know the Departure was real and that people went to a different world. So a machine being built that could send people one way or the other isn’t inconceivable to me since the initial miracle happened.

    Even if I’m wrong and they were in some kind of purgatory that wouldn’t much bother me either. These characters being in purgatory would make a lot more sense than the Lost characters being there.

  • DanG

    scientist: I don’t believe you Nora: I don’t lie
    Nun: you lied about not knowing Kevin
    Nora: I don’t think you’d believe me Kevin: I believe you

    I feel that (one of the messages) is the EXACT truth doesn’t matter as long as you believe (e.g., coincidence=sign, believe=faith). But, I don’t believe her – mainly because there weren’t any dogs in the other world.

    Nora locking windows/door before taking bath– i don’t think it was at all clear that she was going to go to dance..seemed like she was doing anything else other than getting ready…until the door was locked, and then it was clear she wanted to go to Kevin.

    I liked the first scene with Kevin where he says he likes “getting a little LOST..

    In the end, Lindelof gave us EXACTLY what we all said we wanted: (1) what happened to the Departed (2) Why can’t Kevin/Nora just be happy with what they have now…….. and yet, I feel a little lost…

  • grimesgirl 35

    I believe her! Loved the tone and acting of this finale. Thank you so much, Josh and Antonio, for your insightful, fun weekly analysis. I’d listen to you two discuss anything. …. Please go deeper into the meaning of the goat and the door and the doves — so much symbolism!!

  • Charles Bikle

    Also, with the return of Mark-Lynn Baker to “Earth 2 %”, the now-complete cast of “Perfect Strangers” can finally have their reunion show

  • SaraMadridista

    I simply dont care if Nora is telling truth or not, I dont care about what is Kevin, I like closure on a lot of characters by them just narrating it in show.
    This finale was like a bottle episode but in leftover style, it was about Nora journey in finding peace in her loss of her kids, whether she actually saw it or it was all in head.
    I am so glad Laurie was alive in the end of the day, that was such a pleasant surprise.
    Justin and Carrie acting in this episode just pushed to being one of favorite series finale ever, it was perfect ending for me at least in them dealing with feeling, sentiments after departure.
    The play on Kevin “being messiah” by knowing that Noura is still alive, or just out of love for her is why is this show so great, Noura conversation with Nun just work with Nora struggle with “beliefs” this whole series for example, I just didnt take anything with the face value.
    Even Kevin’s heart condition, is this why he kept coming back to life every time? it left us with so many uestions, but also for gave me a good closure because I am not left looking for the answers of these questions.

    This show is about sentiment, isnt about a plot for me, that’s why I dont have many complains, love it! So sad it is ending, It is going down as one of the best ever tv has seen, I think having 3 short seasons is reason why it is just too good, it is about loss and beliefs, it is not a whole story, again at least for me.

    Thank you for these amazing podcasts!

    • GeekFurious

      “I am so glad Laurie was alive in the end of the day”

      One of the reasons I’ve said her “suicide” episode was my least favorite of the series was because it was treated as if it was an afterthought to the series. I hate when shows SUDDENLY spring a major character arc on you out of the blue, like “this has been happening the entire time but you didn’t know it.” Fine. But you’ve given me no time to invest in this massive character twist. So, I hated it. And thankfully Lindelof realized it was a problem (as he said in some interview), and took it back.

      • REG

        Haven’t read all the Lindelof interviews, but my impression is they were just working backward and needed the Finale to keep alive the question of is this Nora’s “purgatory”/”hotel”/heaven and in order to keep that mystery alive they needed to make it ambiguous if Laurie was alive or not in the real world.

        • GeekFurious

          I haven’t read where Lindelof said the reason Laurie was brought back was to keep that mystery alive. I have read where he felt Laurie’s suicide was a mistake.

      • SaraMadridista

        That episode felt like it didn’t belong in the theme of this season, it was aligned with over depressing theme of season 1, I didn’t hate it at all, I get it, I get how Laurie can feel like she is done, since she was reflecting herself on Kevin with that conversation but I understand if you feel it was a weak one

  • TrentC

    Josh and Antonio are two of the best geckos a guy could have.

  • GeekFurious

    I’ve already emailed my long-winded response to the episode but I’ll just sum it up here: Nora is lying. And that’s why I loved the ending even more than if she was telling the truth.

    • DanG

      I think she’s lying to US (the readers of the Book of Nora). But, I think she believes it’s real. I think she’s still in the LADR, holding her breath (like Kevin in the bathtub)..and her trip to the 2% universe was just imagined and the story we are seeing now – with her, in the future..where Kevin comes to find her and apologize is her “other world” too. But, just like Kevin had to Nuke his “other world” to be happy, this is how Nora finally finds peace.

      The LADR doesn’t work (ladders never help people find happiness in the world of TLO).

      • GeekFurious

        If that’s what you want to believe, fine. The show is all about belief. But nothing in the entire series suggests the show runners were telling a story that would ever end on that type of story telling device. It’s the real world. They’re both in it. The one were 98% of the people are left. I believe she just invented the 2% world because it’s what people already wanted to believe anyway. This is not a Jacob’s Ladder moment.

  • REG

    Personally, I like the finale & series a lot more if Nora’s entire story is in her head. It just makes a ton more sense to me, and truly allows for natural growth and closure for all the characters, in my opinion.

    However, my impression from reading some quotes/interviews is that the writers/creators actually believe she travelled back and forth… Doesn’t make a huge impact on my enjoyment of the finale, but I prefer it my way.

    • GeekFurious

      If they read my email, you will see that is my exact argument. It is BETTER if she is lying. Also, I don’t think the writers are suggesting she traveled back and forth. They argued whether they should show it. It’s just part of story telling… asking yourself “is this real and if it is, should we show it?” People often think creators know exactly what they want to do at all times. Most of the time a writer accidentally discovers the best answer, sometimes long after writing it.

  • DanG

    Ladders NEVER work. They didn’t work for the Millerites, They didn’t help Kevin Sr. when he fell on Christopher Sunday or when he was on the roof waiting for Kevin Jr. to rise again (“what do we do now?”). They didn’t help Nora when she was looking for her birds. The biker did use it…but he was just using it to escape getting caught sinning…

    So, no reason that the LADR should have worked…..

    Nora didn’t know that Laurie was dead (heck, Laurie was still alive at the moment Nora entered the LADR). No, I think the entire episode is the “world” Nora IMAGINED in her final moments….

    It was her “other world”. Just like Kevin had to nuke his world to find happiness.. This is the story Nora needed to ultimately “live” in order for her to find peace.