Amy Brenneman
Amy Brenneman

September 8, 2014

The Leftovers Season Finale

Margaret Qualley and Amy in the first season finale of "The Leftovers."

I was going to live Tweet the finale.  I love live Tweeting, really – a chance to watch in real time (kinda) the show with those who made it and those who watch it.  But when I started reading the Twitter feed from the east coast, I knew I was in trouble.


Oh yeah, that’s right.   This is The Leftovers. This is an elegy for loss, an examination of the crevices of the human heart that rarely get exposed.  This is the show that not easily parsed into 140 snappy characters.


You saw I tried.  You saw I gave up.  Like you, I was swept away into the gorgeous heartbreak of Mapleton and watched in awe the gifts of my collaborators.  I knew the script was strong.  I had liked it immediately.  To those worried that their “questions would be answered” I could say confidently yes, many questions get answered.  Some do not, but hell – that’s what a second season is for.  But yes, many deep yearnings get answered – those yearnings that are beyond language or plot points. The yearning for forgiveness, for connection and for release.


Something else occurred to me as I watched last night (and has occurred to me during other episodes as well.)  In the past 9 weeks that the show has aired, the world has fallen apart.  Gaza.  Ukraine.  Ferguson.  Ebola.  ISIS.  I hide the morning paper (yup, I still get one) so my children do not see front-page agony on a daily basis.  Images of members of my human family around the globe howling in agony or wild with violent revenge – this is our regular fare during these challenging days.  Like most of you, at times I want to float away from it all; finding the balance between overwhelm and grounded, productive engagement is my honest prayer.


Watching my dear show last night, these images looked familiar.  Women holding guns, wild with grief for their suddenly departed children.  Villagers torching the homes of a designated villain.  The “villains” themselves, battered and bloody, clinging fervently to a belief that they are not being martyred in vain.


The Leftovers is no longer an outlandish sci-fi premise.  It is a commentary on front-page news.  The question is always the same:  how will human beings act when they feel there is no future?


I am deeply proud to say that in the world of Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta, human beings strive  — beyond reason sometime – for connection and humanity.  You didn’t know that, did you?  The Leftovers is the feel-good show for the new millennia!  I watched plots that culminated last night and the inevitable arcs of all the characters and I realized: the constant thread was connection, connection, connection.  Through our connection and our common need for it, we will be led – if not out of the darkness, then at least through it holding someone else’s hand.


I heard a smidgen of good news on the radio this morning – something in the business sector doing something positive – but the reporter ended his story with some counterpoint and with the admonition:  “this should not be taken as a sign for optimism.”  God forbid. The newscasters generously remind us that even good news is not really good news.  God forbid we choose optimism and hope, for then the governments, corporations and media outlets that make their profits on our anxiety will have a bad quarter.  To this I say:  bullshit.  If the battered heroes on The Leftovers can choose life, who are we to not?


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