In the world of The Leftovers, a hotel is never just a hotel. Hotels are where Nora recently met Mark Linn-Baker to learn about a procedure enabling you to supposedly go where the Departed people went. They’re where Kevin went on his jaunt to become an international assassin in purgatory. And now, in “G’day Melbourne,” they’re the scene of Nora and Kevin’s bitter, explosive breakup.
The Leftovers has never been a romantic show, partly because as the woman who lost everything and the man who talks to hallucinations, Nora and Kevin have always been one of the most dysfunctional couples of all time. But curiously, this episode features the most sexually explicit moment in their relationship, as they have a quickie in the airport bathroom on their way to Australia. It’s the most intimate way we’ve seen them together (physically, at least), but they spend the rest of episode engaged in separate storylines that speak to their emotional disconnection.
Kevin has another weird moment with magical TVs in hotels, just as he did in the episode “International Assassin.” Here, he spots the dead Evie Murphy in the background crowd of an Australian morning talk show. When he confronts her, she pretends to be someone else. Later, when he calls Laurie, she’s able to get him to see that it was just a delusion. The girl was never Evie, and as the camera pans to her, the viewer sees someone else, too. Kevin’s mental problems are far from over.
For her part, Nora spends the episode in a sketchy warehouse, undergoing personality tests to see if she’s eligible for this mysterious machine to take her to where the Departed people went. The scientists determine that she isn’t, using a test question the show first teased out of context in the last episode, when Kevin Senior encountered a man who self-immolated in the desert because he wasn’t chosen. To nobody’s surprise, although Nora claims she was trying to catch these scientists in a con, she’s devastated to not be chosen.
Broken down by their separately harrowing experiences, Nora and Kevin get into an explosive fight in their hotel room. Unlike their other fights, this time it’s for good. At the episode’s end, when Kevin walks out of the hotel and bumps into his father, Kevin Senior asks, “Are you alone here?” Kevin Junior replies, “Yes.” It’s not quite a lie, because Kevin and Nora have both been alone for their entire relationship. They share space and intimacy but don’t try to truly understand each other’s traumas, both too wrapped up in their own. As their relationship ends in an anonymous hotel, Nora calmly smokes a cigarette as the room burns around her.
It’s impossible to say where the show will go from here, but this episode shows how the supernatural elements are always just the instigators for the most grounded, devastatingly human moments.
The Leftovers Season 3 is currently airing on Sunday nights on HBO.