The Abandoned Ruin of a Dead Civilization

“Dear Kevin

I need to say goodbye to someone I care about, someone who’s still here, so I’m saying it to you. You were good to me, Kevin, and sometimes when we were together, I remembered who I used to be before everything changed. But I was pretending, pretending as if I hadn’t lost everything. I want to believe it can all go back to the way it was. I want to believe that I’m not surrounded by the abandoned ruin of a dead civilization. I want to believe it’s possible to get close to someone but it’s easier not to. It’s easier because I’m a coward and I couldn’t take the pain, not again. I know that’s not fair, Kevin. You’ve lost so much, too, and you’re strong. You’re still here. But I can’t be, not anymore. I tried to get better, Kevin. I didn’t want to feel this way, so I took a shortcut. But it led me right back home, and do you know what I found when I got there? I found them, Kevin, right where I left them. Right where they left me. It took me three years to accept the truth but now I know there’s no going back, no fixing it. I’m beyond repair. Maybe we’re all beyond repair. I can’t go on the way I’m living… but I don’t have the power to die. But I have to move towards something. Anything. I’m not sure where I’m going, just away. Away from all this. I think about a place where nobody will know what happened to me. But then I worry I’ll forget them. I don’t ever want to forget them. I can’t. They were my family. I think I loved you, Kevin. Maybe you loved me too. I wish I could say this to you instead of writing it. I wish I could see you one last time and wish you well and tell you how much you mean to me. But I can’t. Like I said, I’m a coward. So wish me luck, I think I’m going to need it.

Love,

Nora.”

And Nora Durst left her family, she covered them with a blanket and, finally, was able to say goodbye. With this great monologue the first season of The Leftovers ended up on a high note. The season finale immediately became the best chapter of this freshman series, and probably one of the best episodes of 2014, appealing both to our senses and our feelings.

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It made us touch the dirtiness, emotional and physical, of death during Patti’s burial. Right after, the images washed it away when Kevin Garvey was reborn, baptized, cleansed by water when he finally accepted the reality, the ephemerality of today and, as well as Nora, the breakdown of a family that he will never get back because they had already disappeared before the Departure. He is not only one, we saw families burning the dolls with the appearance of their loved ones in a city on fire, a cathartic ritual they were not able to perform before and that crushed directly with the Guilty Remnants’ wishes of the town people not to move forward, to stop and remember. Laurie walked through a windy field that brought back the memories of her missing child, but as the wind rase The Leftovers came to a conclusion: maybe the past is gone and we can not bring it back, but we can still build something with the left pieces, with the leftovers.

That was Kevin’s wish.

The family, the city and the countrified, the disappearance… All are main themes of contemporary American television (and even the imagery of this episode reminds of another great harsh drama as Rectify: the baptism, the sunlight through the branches, the impossible-to-reconstruct family…) and I believe this is what Nora Durst was explaining on her final monologue, the impossibility of the fiction to keep living in the same terms: people disappeared and they are not coming back, the city burned to the ground, the traditional family is gone… the abandoned ruin of a dead civlization. Let’s see what television brings us next.

J.

PS. The Leftovers was not exactly my favorite show of the season but I wanted to highlight the great use in the ten episodes, and specially in the finale, of Max Richter’s OST.

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