No, there’s no point for individual ratings. Despite each episode being a kind of individual character showcase, this was all one long unfolding story, full of interludes and asides and callbacks but adding up to one consistent whole. This was a devastatingly powerful final run of episodes as any season finale I can think of. It was fully conceived. It was varied. It was a chance to visit four main characters, each one central to the show at various points, and all of them central to each other, Leftovers who maintained connection despite the Sudden Departure. Each one has its own tone, and a sense of completion is reached. It’s like what was attempted with the final season of Lost, but not just through finding familiar faces in unexpected contexts (though there are a few surreal moments of that, too), but familiar faces who have lived through the original Departure and are now surviving its anniversary.
Do we have any answers about what went on? Any religious pronouncements, any final judgments about the state of existence? Of course not, who were you kidding? In fact, we have a pretty complete refusal to accept Kevin as a new savior, despite his completely literal ability to survive multiple deaths, despite his utter surety that when he dies he visits another world (if not the world of the Departed exactly). We spend the final arcs of the season with Father Matt confronting his cruel mortality, Laurie tripling down on her therapeutic role with literally anyone she meets (as long as they don’t try to steal her lighter), and Nora pursuing what could either be an elaborately expensive suicide scenario or an elaborately convincing physics and science-based means of finding out the real truth (but not closure, because closure isn’t possible when her family are not dead but gone).
Matt’s journey involves a desperate race to Australia on a boat of hedonistic pleasure seekers, that don’t need the downer of Matt’s misfit disciples (Michael and John already aptly named, and Laurie playing either Thomas or Judas depending on the day). There’s a captive lion, a man who thinks he’s God, various scenes of bondage, torture, sex, and murder, and a completely biblical mauling to cap things off. The humor is both broad and snide, and there couldn’t be a better cast than this crew to confront the absurdity of their ultimately successful journey.
Laurie’s episode is more centered, less erratic and dramatic, though it does involve stalking, car theft, the Guilty Remnant managing to haunt and intrude as only they can, a murdered cop and another whacked with a shovel, all leading to a touching goodbye between once-marrieds Kevin and Laurie. Nora is delivered to the physicists that could make her dream come true, with Matt at her side as her loving family, and Laurie acts on Nora’s perfect suicide scenario to go snorkeling before the impending storm. The ambiguity of whether this is how she wants to spend the Anniversary (it is) or how she wants to escape it all is kind of beautifully open-ended, but there’s no reason to count out this woman who is so committed to leading others to reality she’ll sedate a whole family and once tried to single-handedly cure the Guilty Remnant herself (well, with her son Tommy as the snake oil).
Kevin agrees to drown for his father’s apocalypse, and to carry some messages to the Other Side (which of course end up garbled), as Kevin’s afterlife is a world of international assassins, paratroopers with rifles, and one where the Guilty Remnant has become the ruling world power by cleaning up their white-suited atheist act, destroying the family systematically, and offering a much more clear articulation of their pessimistic agenda. Why go active in the streets when you can write the fake news yourself? Someone will always believe you.
In a Harry Potter type of moment, Agent Kevin can travel through mirrors to reach his counterpart, and he gets closer and closer to a very secure bunker where he must confront his own personal supervillains, Patti Levin and Meg Abbot, acting now as his Secretary of Defense and his Vice President respectively, and urging him to alternately blow up the world or kill his double or both.
It all makes even less sense than Kevin’s season 2 sojourns to the afterlife, but it’s very big picture, and the truth comes out when Patti (in the midst of ranting unconvincingly on the lack of God or an afterlife, despite being herself clearly a ghost) makes Kevin realize that all his suicides, asphyxiations, drownings and last-minute flights to Australia are escape attempts from what really scares him. Which is love, for Nora specifically. And she helps him finally kill (that part of himself) himself because (considering he pushed her into a well and drowned her own inner child last time) she owes him. And she means that as a friend, delivered with all the ironic conviction of which Ann Dowd is capable.
There are gratuitous murders this time around (poor Liv Tyler, killed twice this season), as we’re deep in Kevin’s own Inception, but ultimately the character beats are sincere and emotionally earned. His final trial brings us back to an Australia not devastated by flood (the shaman/Australian Ambassador Kevin contacted on the other side makes clear that Kevin Sr. was following a pipe dream), and a world with no further Departures and no new answers, anniversary or not.
So what’s left behind is the love story, and it’s one that takes decades, as we finally find Nora/Sara on her bird farm, and Kevin inviting her to a dance in town after knocking on her door as if he barely knows her. He wants to start over after their devastating last fight in the hotel, and truth seeker Nora puts up with as much of it as she can, clearly as drawn to him as ever but needing full disclosure or nothing. The party it turns out is a wedding, the one Nora was loaning her doves too, and love is all around in this episode (including for sneaky nuns apparently), so why not for Nora and her estranged husband? She has a story about her journey to the other world, and it’s best that she tell it. It doesn’t matter if you believe it. What matters is that she came back, and it looks like these crazy kids are going to make a go of it after all. The prospect of which brings a smile to Laurie’s face, tending her presumed grandchildren, when Nora calls to cuss her out. And to ask permission (if you believe Laurie) to dance.