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Streaming TV Party: How ‘The Leftovers’ crafted the perfect ending

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Warning: This newsletter contains spoilers for all three seasons of The Leftovers. Catch up here with Streaming TV Party’s previous newslettersand sign up to receive the best of the internet straight to your inbox.




Ben King/HBO

“This is a love story”

The concept of Damon Lindelof as a romantic is certainly not a new one, as several critics pointed out during Watchmen’s run. Indiewire’s Libby Hill expanded upon it in December, writing that “Understanding romantic relationships within Lindelof’s universes is to accept that love is a thermodynamic miracle.” Lost’s best episode, season 4’s “The Constant,” is a time-travel saga that ends with a life-saving phone call on Christmas Eve. At the heart of Watchmen is a love story that’s doomed from the start but still worth pursuing.

Because of that comparison, I knew in the general sense that Kevin Garvey and Nora Durst was one for the ages. What I wasn’t aware of was just how much of The Leftovers’ final two episodes established that. After “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother),” Kevin spent two weeks every year for a full decade searching for Nora in Australia because he was convinced she wasn’t gone. He did this not knowing if she would accept him or still love him when he eventually found her (or even if she still lived), and he did it anyway.

It’s a grandstanding epic, one that felt both akin to “The Constant” and something like Odysseus’ 20-year journey home in The Odyssey. But more importantly, it felt real and like a tangible thing. (Predictably, I was a mess off-and-on during “The Book of Nora” but I started sobbing when Kevin showed up at her door.)


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the leftovers kevin and patti


The Leftovers/HBO

Would you blow up one world to save another?

For most of The Leftovers’ run, Kevin has been put on a pedestal. He was the chief of police in a small town. He was the man who could die (multiple times!) and rise from the dead after visiting a version of Purgatory where he got to play out fantasies of being an assassin, a cop, and the president. Matt cast him as the Messiah as everyone demanded more of him. In his final trip, the dead interrogated Kevin’s intentions of returning: “You just do what they tell you to do…What do you want?” “Do you believe that?” “Well, what do you want?”

The penultimate episode really boils down to the final page of the romance novel Kevin wrote. Both versions follow a man on a boat called Merciful and his search for a woman he lost. The beach hut page had the man searching for the woman while the bunker room page showed him giving up. The latter is more devastating, depicting himself as a coward afraid of being small. He could revel in his Messiah complex or he could be with someone who accepts him—but not both. It’s ultimately not much of a question as to what Kevin wants. He kills his other self and destroys Purgatory with Patti Levin by his side to watch the beauty in the destruction.




Ben King/HBO

The biggest lingering question that will never be answered

“The Book of Nora” more or less had an explanation for every single question you could ask for from where the Departed went to (in a sense) to everyone’s fates including Laurie and Matt. The bigger question remains in one of the show’s final scenes: Is Nora telling the truth when she tells Kevin about what happened to her after she went into the machine?

While I vaguely knew that The Leftovers had an open ending, it didn’t occur to me that she might’ve made everything up until a friend asked me if I believed Nora; of course, I believed her. But the other reading of it, that Nora lied about it to explain to Kevin why she spent the past decade hiding. Both interpretations work surprisingly well.

“We have a unanimous feeling as to which one of those realities is real and we will never, ever, say, ‘This is what really happened,’” Lindelof told Vulture in 2017. “Kevin believes, or says he believes, the story; that’s the whole point of the series. That’s what religion is.”




Ben King/HBO

Further Reading

Here are just a few things I’ve checked out this week or will be reading/watching in the coming days. Since they’re of interest to me, I figured they might be to you, too.

Next Week: One final look back at The Leftovers, the connecting series between Lost and Watchmen in Lindelof’s television pantheon.


Recommended

  • Julie and the Phantoms is a worthy descendant of High School Musical.
     
  • The Third Day wears its folk horror roots on its sleeve, resulting in a thrilling and experimental miniseries.

Thoughts? Contact me at [email protected] and drop me a reader’s note: We just might include it next time.

*First Published: Sep 16, 2020, 4:12 pm

Michelle Jaworski

Michelle Jaworski is a staff writer and TV/film critic at the Daily Dot. She covers entertainment, geek culture, and pop culture and has covered everything from the Sundance Film Festival, NYFF, and Tribeca to New York Comic Con and Con of Thrones. She is based in Brooklyn.

Michelle Jaworski

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Disney to Lay Off 28,000 Employees at Its California and Florida Theme Parks Due to the Pandemic

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(ORLANDO, Fla.) — Squeezed by limits on attendance at its theme parks and other restrictions due to the pandemic, The Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday it planned to lay off 28,000 workers in its parks division in California and Florida.

Two-thirds of the planned layoffs involve part-time workers but they ranged from salaried employees to nonunion hourly workers, Disney officials said.

Disney’s parks closed last spring as the pandemic started spreading in the U.S. The Florida parks reopened this summer, but the California parks have yet to reopen as the company awaits guidance from the state of California.

In a letter to employees, Josh DÁmaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experience and Product, said his management team had worked hard to try to avoid layoffs. They had cut expenses, suspended projects and modified operations but it wasn’t enough given limits on the number of people allowed into the park because of social distancing restrictions and other pandemic-related measures, he said.

“As heartbreaking as it is to take this action, this is the only feasible option we have in light of the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on our business, including limited capacity due to physical distancing requirements and the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic,” he said.

Disney officials said the company would provide severance packages for the employees, where appropriate, and also offer other services to help workers with job placement.

Contact us at [email protected]

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Rebel Wilson Cuddles Up With Boyfriend Jacob Busch During Monaco Trip

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A gala in Monaco with a cute new guy might sound like the plot of a wanderlust-inspiring romance novel, but for Pitch Perfect star Rebel Wilson, it’s just a normal part of her week. 

Currently, Rebel is in Monaco for the Monte-Carlo Gala For Planetary Health, which was held on Thursday, Sept. 24. It was there that she made her red carpet debut with Jacob Busch, her new boyfriend whom she has reportedly been seeing for months now. On Sunday, Sept. 27, Rebel shared an update of how the pair’s trip is going with a cute Instagram story Boomerang. She and Jacob appear to be enjoying a windy day on a boat. 

Jacob also shared the photo of him and Rebel in his Instagram story, as well as a few additional pics of him enjoying the boat life. 

Additionally on Instagram, Rebel showed off her Monaco workout routine, which involved doing bicep curls with a giant bottle of Belvedere vodka. 

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Shannen Doherty Isn’t Ready To Go Yet – Read Her Emotional Interview About Stage IV Cancer Battle

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After her on-screen brother Jason Priestley gave a brief update on how the Beverly Hills, 90210 alum has been doing lately amid her battle with cancer, the 49-year-old spoke with Elle in a raw interview about her ongoing fight and why she’s not ready to do anything “final.”

As we previously shared, Doherty revealed her breast cancer had returned in early 2020 after privately fighting once again for a year. At the time, she only told those closest to her, including husband Kurt Iswarienko and longtime friend Sarah Michelle Gellar, but a short period later, her life changed even more.

Luke Perry, her former on-screen love interest from 90210, tragically passed away after suffering a stroke, which gave Shannen a new perspective on living the rest of her days to the fullest. With some convincing from co-star and friend Brian Austin Green, who was aware of her cancer returning, she reluctantly joined the cast of BH90210, despite her diagnosis just weeks earlier:

“Things happen and you go, ‘All right, this is what I’m supposed to be doing at this moment.’”

2020 once again brought a turn when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Due to her high-risk status, Doherty and Iswarienko have been hunkered down at their home in Malibu for several months, taking up gardening and woodworking on their property. A slower pace of life has given the Heathers star time to think about a world without her in it, however morbid that may be. For now, she has mentally cataloged items for friends and family, but she’s not ready just yet to take another step:

“There are things I need to say to my mom. I want my husband to know what he’s meant to me. But whenever it comes time for me to do it, it feels so final. It feels like you’re signing off, and I’m not signing off. I feel like I’m a very, very healthy human being. It’s hard to wrap up your affairs when you feel like you’re going to live another 10 or 15 years.”

Doherty is currently using her downtime to develop new projects, including a TV show, and research how to use her public status to advocate for other metastatic breast cancer patients:

“It’s like anybody with Stage IV faces this sort of thing, where others want to put you out to pasture. I’m not ready for pasture. I’ve got a lot of life in me.”

After years of tabloid stories during the height of her 90210 and Charmed fame, it was difficult for the actress to be vulnerable about something so personal, but shared a conclusion she reached after receiving her metastatic cancer diagnosis:

“At the end of that, what I came out with was, I have good karma. It may not seem like it, but I’ve been a really good human being.”

Gellar, one of Shannen’s dearest friends, can attest to that. Doherty escorted her pal’s daughter around rides and food stands at a Malibu charity carnival last year, where strangers approached her with support, but Sarah saw a change in her BFF:

“The old Shannen would have been skeptical: ‘What do they really want?’ She used to be so guarded. Everybody was coming up to her to hug her, and she welcomed that. The fact that her public persona could finally match up with the private persona gave her some peace.”

We’re sending Shannen strength and best wishes as she fights on. For more from the star, read her full Elle interview HERE.

[Image via Shannen Doherty/Instagram & Adriana M. Barraza/WENN.]

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