The Leftovers S03E04 Recap: 'G'Day Melbourne'

It often feels as if Kevin Garvey and Nora Durst are the most interesting characters on The Leftovers. After all, one is the main character; the one who can die and come back to life, who talks to dead people and visited purgatory's hotel in arguably one of the best singular episodes in television history. The one who drives the plot forward and in new, super weird and interesting places. The other represents the other side of this show's brain, the emotional side that takes deep dives into what it fucking means to be depressed and what it's like to lose someone. But that stuff makes you forget that, in truth, The Leftovers works not only because of this dichotomy between Kevin and Nora, as ravishing, raw and incompatible as they might be together, but because even outside of them, there isn't a single character on this show that isn't compelling, or that won't eventually get their time to shine, as last week's long overdue Kevin Garvey Sr. proved.

And despite the crazy shit that happens to them, three seasons in, Kevin and Nora aren't the only people to whom crazy shit happens on this show anymore. I try not to talk about previews in my reviews, but, along with the aforementioned insane Kevin Sr. adventure, what seemingly happens to Kevin and the rest of the gang in next week's episode is easy proof of that. And it makes what's happening to Nora and Kevin sort of banal in comparison, especially if Kevin isn't pushing little girl versions of Patti into wells in what may or may not be the afterlife.

Don't get me wrong, I still love these characters and almost every moment of screen time they get is riveting (as evidenced by the high scores received by the first two very Nora and Kevin-centric episodes of this season), but outside of two or three particular scenes, there's a certain routine nature to what happens to them in this week's "G'Day Melbourne". In fact, let's be honest with ourselves. This is an exposition-heavy episode meant to set up a lot what's going to happen in the back-half of the show's final season. It's an elaborate way of getting Kevin into his father's presence, to reestablish that things aren't all that right with his noggin, all while things sort of get stalled with Nora and the scientists that can take her to the other side.

Like I said though, that doesn't make anything that happens to Nora and Kevin any less compelling. The first moment that sticks out is Kevin's long cross-continental conversation with Laurie. Kevin thinks he sees Evie on an Australian morning show, so he chases her down and confronts her, and with Laurie's help he tracks her down to the library, even though she advises against it. It turns out that this really isn't Evie, and that Laurie asked her to pretend to be after Kevin confronted her, because he's having another psychotic break, seeing things that aren't there. The reveal is confusing and disconcerting, as Kevin finds out that he really was imagining things, probably because of his increasingly complicated relationship with a woman who may or may not be attempting to kill herself in an elaborate way.

Then again, Kevin's Melbourne adventure inadvertently exposes him to Kevin Sr. when he winds up on Australian TV, who meets him outside his hotel as he's leaving Nora behind. Kevin isn't sure if he's actually seeing his dad or if it's another hallucination, but he says fuck it and goes off with him on a new adventure. Like I said, an elaborate way to reunite father and son.

But it also gives us our second moment, when Kevin and Nora have a long overdue conversation about what's happening to both of them, and what they're afraid to tell each other. Nora keeps ribbing Kevin about the book, so early in the episode he lies about having read. She quizzes him, but he doesn't have to fake it since he actually lived everything in it. He's just afraid to confirm it to her because the last time he was honest, she handcuffed him to a bed and left. Kevin doesn't know what's happening to him, but he knows Nora isn't equipped to help him. That being said, he goes to Australia to be with her and try to salvage what they have, even though she's withholding from him. Her whole arc this season revolves around whether or not she actually wants to go through with the machine that can supposedly take her to her kids, or if she's pretending in order to uncover a big fraud. Her behaviour is dry, ironic enough to cast doubt. But Kevin recognizes destructive behaviour so he's at least along for the ride.

So Nora goes through the whole rigmarole with the scientists, humours their tests and questions, but she gets denied. This all is, by the way, riveting even if exposition-heavy, as they explain more about the machine and matter-of-factly state that it does indeed send you somewhere, just that it's likely simply a void of space that has millions of corpses floating in it. The scientists refuse Nora when she says that she's easily choose to kill one twin if it meant that the other would grow up to cure cancer. There's probably some metaphor in there about how all life is precious, regardless of logical circumstance, but it doesn't matter. It appears to be game over for Nora and this machine, so she tries and calls in the fraud play, but she's agitated enough that when Kevin comes back to the hotel, they have a huge fight about everything from the book to Nora's desire to be with her dead children who she considers to not be dead, culminating in Kevin telling her to just go fucking be with them.

In other words, Kevin calls out on her shit, which is long overdue for Nora, but does it curtly and in a non-productive way for someone who is ostensibly suicidal. And Nora continuously prodding Kevin about his book, ignoring his issues and needs drive him further into psychosis and, as we see at the end of the episode, into his father's dangerous arms. Basically, The Leftovers takes the long road to the back-end of its last season and two important character moments, which makes "G'Day Melbourne" feel somewhat unnecessary. Albeit entertaining, and rewarding when it gets to its handful of points, but it's not the grand-scale character episodes we've become accustomed to since we seem to already know a lot of what makes the Nora-Kevin dynamic tick.

"G'Day Melbourne" supplies a couple of great moments, but it's a plot-heavy episode of a show that's at its best when it's taking deep dives into characters, and for that it gets 8 cases of mistaken identity out of 10.

Notes & Quotes:

  • Gratuitous Justin Theroux butt-shots: 1
  • The end of the episode cites some sort of explosion which shuts down taxi services and flights around Melbourne. I don't think I missed anything so it'll be curious to see what that's about.
  • While I did find the episode a bit of a step back for what this show has been as of late, the idea of Lindelof ostensibly throwing out most of an episode just to get Kevin and Kevin Sr. in the same car is kind of amazing.
  • The reality, though, is that he spent an hour to get to the point where Kevin tells Nora that she should "go be with" her dead children, and I can't stress enough how brutal that exchange winds up being. It almost made me up the score of this episode a full point, but I gotta stick to my guns here.
  • A-Ha's 'Take On Me' is played three different times, three different ways in this episode. I could probably write a whole essay about that, but it probably either has to do with Nora and Kevin "taking on" each other's burdens, or how the video shows us an alternate reality the main character pulls another out of.
  • In case you were wondering, Mark Lynn-Baker went through the machine.
  • "It's illegal to travel out of the country with more than ten grand." "Why didn't you just give me half?" "Huh."
  • "I'll say that you've come to see me off because we're in a toxic, co-dependent relationship and we've come to realize that we're better off apart than together."
  • "He's being weird."
  • "Ask John about the fucking book he wrote about me."