The Leftovers “I Live Here Now” Review

Posted December 7, 2015 by Chad Waller in Nerdy Bits

*Spoiler Warning: Plot and or ending details follow*

The Leftover’s first season finale might be one of my favorite episodes in television. It was pretty much every good word I can think of, and the way it ended was perfect and powerful. Had the show ended there, I’d have been happy.

“I Live Here Now,” the ending to the second season, falls short of that lofty bar.

I’ll skip the nonsense and jump right into why: When Kevin got shot early on, I found it hard to focus on anything else. He’s always been the heart of this show for me, so to leave him in that kind of limbo was distracting. Yes I care about all the other characters, and yes I’m impressed at how well “I Live Here Now” managed to wrap up its plot threads in such a concise manor that didn’t feel cheap, but at the time, I was worried about Kevin.

When John shot Kevin, I was brought back to the first A Song of Ice and Fire novel, where Ned Stark got executed. It was a shocking moment because up until that point, the series hadn’t quite cemented itself into the cruel, anyone-can-die affair it’s now fondly known for. Ned was too much of a main character, too much the heart of A Game of Thrones that killing him in such a pointless and abrupt manor just seemed cheap.

I was afraid the same had happened to Kevin, and while The Leftovers is first and foremost a bleak show, it has yet to show such a disregard for its main cast.

So while Evie and Meg were getting ready to blow the bridge into Miracle up, I was only half paying attention. When Lilly was being kidnapped, I was only half paying attention. When Matt was stressing about getting back into Miracle so his baby would be alright, I was only a ¼ paying attention. Seriously Matt, get over it. She’ll be fine for a few hours outside the town, assuming the town has any bearing on any of this at all.

During the last 15 minutes, we jump to Kevin waking up in the same bathtub in the same hotel. There’s an almost comical level of, “not again” with the undertones that he could really, really be stuck here. He isn’t, and the way he gets out is a little bit of a dues ex machina to be honest. I get the poignant song, and I suppose I get the dose of humble pie, but I was mostly underwhelmed.

“I deserve to go back,” he says. But does he really? As a viewer, I feel like he does deserve his happy ending; as a cynic, well, don’t we all? Patti certainly never got hers. Virgil never got his. Wayne never got his. Gladys never got hers. Why does Kevin get his happy ending when no one else does?

And yet I was happy that he got his happy ending, and that Matt got his too. Both characters certainly have paid their dues.

With this all out of the way, let’s talk about the rest of the episode—and I suppose the bulk of the episode. Season 2 has been nothing short of jam-packed and busy, and as we approached the finale, we’ve had tons of plot threads to work with. I mentioned most of them above, but there were little, dangling ones too, like Kevin’s son turning back up, Erika wanting to leave John, the cricket, Kevin’s dog, the reasoning Evie and her friends joined the Guilty Remnant, and what Meg was really up to.

We got answers to all of those things!

Granted, some of the answers were vague, but The Leftovers thrives on vagueness. I’m perfectly fine with the thought experiments left over, like why Evie joined the Guilty Remnant. Hell, I enjoy such conversations! Analysis can be fun, and there’s certainly plenty here for those with a similar mindset.

From a writing standpoint, I am very impressed with how well “I Live Here Now” handled so many characters, so many plot threads, and so much suspense. It was a dense episode, but it didn’t feel rushed or chunked up into parts. Everything flowed together in a natural state, and even when the supernatural bit showed up at the end, it still fit.

From a viewer standpoint, I suppose I wanted a bit more spectacle. Season 1 ended with a big fire and Lori screaming at Kevin—the first words she had said all season if I remember that right—to go save their daughter. That was powerful! In this season, we got a pretend explosion and some goofy stuff in purgatory.

And call me a whiny hypocrite if you like, but shooting Kevin only for him to come back because he sang a song in purgatory makes his getting shot in the first place kind of meaningless.

Guys, why am I never happy?

There are lingering questions though, but there always will be. I’m currently stuck on, “Was Patti a real ghost or a figment of Kevin’s imagination.” She said the three girls departed, yet they didn’t. Why on Earth would she lie about that? But if she was fake then Kevin was delusional, not haunted, and now we head back to Purgatory and wonder if that was real or some kind of metaphor. If it was a metaphor, then Kevin basically wished himself out with pleasant thoughts of his family. That’s a bit too corny for this show though.

Not that it’s important, really. Patti is gone and Kevin has his happy ending (which knowing this show, is entirely the point in the first place).

About the Author

Chad Waller

Chad Waller is the cofounder of Dual Wield Software, a two-man video game company that just published The Land of Glass on Steam. You should check it out! You can follow him on Twitter @DualWieldSoft and find his company page on Facebook with a quick search.