February 12, 2019

Justin Theroux explains 'The Leftovers' Ambiguous Ending

We have 2% of the answers. Now we want the other 98% of them. 

It's been two years since The Leftovers disappeared from television and I have a massive hole in my heart. The show that Quartz said was “Encapsulating the essence of what it currently feels like to be a human being in a strange world” was a weekly retreat for many viewers. It wasn't afraid to ask the big questions and to avoid the big answers. 

Much like real life, The Leftovers was an introspective show that made each viewer analyze their own relationship to faith, science, and wonderment. 

In the final episode, in the final scene, Nora and Kevin find themselves at a table in Australia, finally ready to love one another. 

There's so much power here. Is Nora telling Kevin what he needs to hear, what she needs to hear, or the truth? 

What we see here is a reconciliation of two characters who have finally come to terms with that fact that they're alive. That they can be vulnerable with each other and tell one another exactly what they need to get by in this world. 

This is pure love. 

It's special. Intimate. And has been hotly debated since it aired on HBO. 

Show co-creator, Damon Lindelof offered few answers and put the burden on the audience to decide. All he focused on was making the ending satisfying for people. And how the characters deal with what they have to do now that the world has not ended. 

Lindelof offers no tangible answers here, but it's great to hear about his process and how it relates to the Lost ending. 

There's a lot of purposeful ambiguity, but Lindelof wants to ensure that he's never hidden anything from us. In fact, a lot of viewers look for clues to the ending in the plain sight. 

Now, Justin Theroux has addressed the ending of the show. And he has some answers for you. 

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Theroux addressed the ambiguous ending to The Leftovers

“My theory is that she’s lying to me...And she didn’t go to this other place, and she’s using that to try and get me to leave or to not be with her. It’s sort of implied, because our show, a lot of times when people would have monologues or say things, we’d flash back to those events. And in that monologue, there’s no flashback to the event."

He goes on to provide more context for his answer: 

“I think it’s a defense mechanism, she’s like, I’m going to tell him this story and he’s gonna go, ‘You’re bats— crazy’ and he’s gonna leave. And he ends up saying, ‘I don’t care, you’re here, you’re the love of my life, and so I’m going to stay with you.’”

Theroux's version of events is certainly interesting. We know that Kevin and Nora's relationship is a bit caustic. They both are damaging to one another, and never feel totally comfortable sharing. Season Two is entirely built around Kevin and Nora being afraid to tell each other their darkest theories and experiences. 

Season Three thrusts them together and yanks them apart. 

If Theroux is right, if this is all a test from Nora to push Kevin away, and his answers are him telling her it doesn't matter and he would believe anything she said or felt because he loved her, then that is still in line with the theory that the show is all about selfless love for one another.

I tend to agree with the video below. The Leftovers ending is perfect and boils down to love and trust. It doesn't matter if Nora is telling the truth or lying. What matters is that Kevin believes her and loves her unconditionally. And what matters to Kevin is that Nora wants to be with him and confide everything she feels to him. 

What do you think of Theroux's explanation of the ending? 

Do you buy it or disagree? 

Let us know in the comments! 

“The Leftovers” is now streaming in its entirety on HBO GO - so go back, rewatch, and decide for yourself.      

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1 Comment

For me, she says the truth. We see her in that water tank. Imagine if the machine was a complete scam. What would happen? "Good bye, it was a scam, we'll let you suffocating in that water tank"? It wouldn't make any sense. It is obviously not a scam. It's strange that this machine and the scientists seem always forgotten when there's a talk about The Leftovers ending... I like the fact that there's no flashback. I like how we're concentrated on the story she tells.
Anyway, that series is a masterpiece.

February 13, 2019 at 5:04AM

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Vincent Galiano
Filmmaker / Screenwriter / Photographer
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