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The Leftovers 1×10 “The Prodigal Son Returns” Recap

In the season finale of The Leftovers, The Guilty Remnant perform the most vile and hurtful thing this strange and cruel cult could ever perform, and the outrage by the townspeople seemed aptly justified.

Set up in the episode where Nora goes out of town to a convention and meets a guy that sells look-a-likes of lost loved ones, The Guilty Remnant purchase some of these look-a-like dummies of lost loved ones. It’s why they stole the pictures out of the houses – their excuse was so they would remember.

Remember? How could anyone forget your loved ones just vanishing? Sure, someone like Nora is trying to move on but every day, every hour, thoughts of her missing children float through her memory. There is never a chance to forget, just a way to survive.

Chief Kevin Garvey is trying to survive. Trying to get over what he saw when Patty, the de facto head of The Guilty Remnant, killed herself. He enlists the help of Reverend Matt. At first he’s intent in calling in what happened, but then the Reverend convinces him to bury the body.

There is a nice fake-out when the Reverend is driving Garvey back home. At first it appears he has taken Garvey to the same psychiatric hospital as his father, and he even sees the deceased Patty there, but then he wakes up and they have stopped at a diner to eat.

At the diner, Garvey encounters the self-proclaimed messiah Wayne, his guts hanging out, sitting on a toilet in the bathroom of the diner. Garvey wants to get help but Wayne pleads with him to stay with him. He also tells Garvey to make a wish, because if he can grant it, that means he truly was chosen – a messiah. Garvey stares blankly at him, but seems to make a wish, and then smiles and dies.

Was Wayne a messiah, or just a user of young girls? Garvey’s son Tom soon finds out his companion, Christine, assumes the latter as she is fed up with being a supposed messiah’s chosen one dealing with a crying baby. She leaves the baby in a bathroom stall and that leaves Tom to care for it.

As for Garvey’s daughter, Jill, she has decided if you can’t beat them, join them. She has joined her mother as a member of The Guilty Remnant. Taking up smoking and silence and for a while it seems nice, not to hear her sullen messed up rhetoric, but then you realize what a lost little girl she is.

As for poor Nora, she continues to get tortured and even more lost. It is through her eyes the audience sees the impact of The Guilty Remnant’s plan of placing look-a-like dummies in the family homes of people who departed. Sitting at the breakfast table is her family – gone but not forgotten, only to return in plastic form.

When Garvey arrives back in town with Matt, he sees the fall-out of what The Guilty Remnant have done. The townspeople have had enough and are taking out their frustrations on the white cloth wearing chain-smoking clan.

This hits home for Garvey when he realizes Jill is in one of the burning homes used by The Guilty Remnant. After he rescues her, Jill clings to him as her mother, and Garvey’s wife, just walks away. It is then, I think, Jill realizes the parent that really loves her and will stick with her.

As for Nora, she is done. Done with this town and with trying to pretend she is okay. She writes a lengthy letter to Garvey, which at first seems like a suicide note, but in the end she admits she doesn’t have it in her to kill herself but she can’t pretend she is okay anymore. She admits she loves Garvey but has to leave.

Garvey is walking hand-in-hand with Jill on the way home when he happens upon the dog he tried to tame. At first he is taken aback when the dog approaches, but then he realizes how docile the animal is. He takes up the rope around the dog’s neck, grabs Jill’s hand, and they walk on.

Meanwhile, Nora is dropping off the note at Garvey’s home when she notices something on his porch. It is the baby Tom was left with; he has left it with Garvey while Tom goes in search of his mother.

As Garvey, Jill, and the dog approach, there stands Nora with a baby in her arms.

So, what did Garvey wish for with Wayne? Was it to have his family back? Did he get his wish? Because as we all know from fairy tales, you may wish for something, but it isn’t always the exact wish you get.

  • Kaitlin Mattison

    I thought this episode was breathtaking. The scene with the fire blazing through the neighborhood was rattling, and Nora’s acting was nearly perfect. I’m fascinated by what they might do with Tommy’s arc next season, and I hope they bring back Garvey Sr. often and with good intentions. I find him so intriguing.