The Leftovers Season 3 Review: A Masterful, Emotionally Rewarding Journey

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The Leftovers are heading toward their final destination when the series begins its third season this coming Sunday.

It's fitting that The Leftovers Season 3 begins airing on Easter Sunday, not because of the tie-in with the trailer in which Kevin Garvey declares he's not Jesus, but because the series has always been about faith.

As the series draws to a close, various characters will find themselves on intensely personal journeys that will push them to their limits and test their faith more than ever before.

Kevin Holds a Book - The Leftovers

For a series that began based on a book by Tom Perrotta and held very close to source material for the entirety of The Leftovers Season 1, what he and Damon Lindelof achieved for The Leftovers Season 2 was outstanding and original art.

The Leftovers Season 3 continues in the vein of Season 2, with stunning performances by the cast, incredible direction and beautiful cinematography.

I've had the opportunity to see seven of the eight episodes of the final season, and through them, I ran through the emotional spectrum – I laughed and I cried (sobbed, actually) and I was shocked and amused, angry and heartbroken. It's all there.

Kevin Reads the Book - The Leftovers

The transition between Seasons 2 and 3 is seamless, and surprisingly, there are pieces of almost every story from the final season as a whole included in the trailer, although there is no context provided.

Watching it now I get a warm rush of excitement at the thought I'll be reliving it all weekly as I bring to you the episodic reviews.

It's not a season I would want to watch only once no matter the timing.

This isn't a season you can go into lightly.

That's not said to scare you away, but to ensure you are getting the most out of what I consider to be one of the best, if not THE best shows airing on TV in the last two years.

Nora on The Leftovers Season 3

Don't be afraid to rewatch the first two seasons, but most especially the second, as it will help you to better understand what's going on during the third.

At the end of a fantastic (and fantastical) Season 2, Kevin Garvey (the impeccable Justin Theroux), his family and friends had been through the ringer.

When we left them, they seemed to have come to an understanding of what matters in the world.

As Season 3 jets off both literally and figuratively, the characters we've traveled with the longest are grappling with how to handle another anniversary.

Each episode is a story in its own right, beautifully encapsulating a particular character or two as they meet issues head on, and in some cases, put to rest their thoughts on subjects they've grappled with since the Sudden Departure occurred.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing - The Leftovers

Theroux's Kevin is at the center of much of the conflict and discussion, as is his partner Nora (in a divine performance by Carrie Coon), his ex-wife Laurie (the always superb Amy Brenneman) and his father, Kevin Garvey, Sr. (the wonderful Scott Glenn).

The four of them become the core of the final acts while other characters are interwoven, such as the Murphys (Regina King, Kevin Caroll and Jovan Adepo), Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston) and new cast member, Lindsay Duncan's, character, who I'll keep mum about here.

Not only is each episode a story in itself, but the start of each hour is also different, setting the tone for what's to come. 

Whether the characters are in need of faith in themselves, in some sort of belief system or in those they love is thematic to the final season, as it would be if you were facing, once again, the idea that the end of the world was coming. 

Kevin, Jr., and Kevin, Sr. - The Leftovers

That's what they face every anniversary of the Sudden Departure.

Is this it? Is this the end? The end is near. There are 13 more days...there is an anxious feeling that doom is coming, but it's hard to determine if it's some sort of mass hysteria or if it's the real thing.

Considering what they've all been through, you'd have to choose. Either it's going to happen again and you're OK with that, or it's not, and you're OK with that, too.

It feels like that's what we're all thinking about all the time, and The Leftovers got there first.

Lindelof and Perrotta also did it far better than I'd ever be able in my real world situations.

Even when the most astonishing thing is happening in the lives of the Garvey family, for instance, they somehow still do it with grace.

Handing Over the Book

You have a week to catch up before the premiere, and it's worth your time. The callbacks to Season 2 are also worth a rewatch, or at the very least reading past Leftovers Reviews to reacquaint yourself with what you may have forgotten.

This series is so stunningly beautiful it seems silly not to revisit it in some form or another.

The Leftovers Season 3 is outstanding. It takes Season 2 and masterfully builds upon the characters' emotional backgrounds, giving them more depth and taking their journeys to stunning, unpredictable places with great reward.

Without seeing the final episode, it's the best concluding chapter to a television series in recent memory. There's not a stone unturned on the fearless journey to what I expect will be a magnificent ending.

Be here on Sunday, April 16 after the premiere airs at 9/8c on HBO for a full review.


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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The Leftovers Quotes

They're heroes because nobody's going to come to a parade for "we don't know what the fuck happened" day.


Tom: You know Mr. Witten, you don't have to be such a dick. You're gonna forget you ever felt this way.
Congressman Witten: What way?
Tom: Burdened.