The Leftovers Season 3, Episode 4 Recap: "G’Day Melbourne”

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Guess it’s time to close the door
I don’t wanna cry anymore
It’s just not worth fightin’ for this love
The music is a clue. Damon Lindelof explained in a recent appearance on the Vulture TV Podcast that a limited budget for a new title sequence allowed The Leftovers’ creative team to get crafty with thematics in this final season, choosing different songs to open every episode. “G’Day Melbourne” opens with Ray Montague and The Pariah Dogs’ “This Love Is Over,” a not-so-subtle nod to the dissolution of Nora and Kevin’s relationship, which is raked over the coals in an hour of testimonials and confrontation – words finally spoken, if perhaps too late. It’s an apt song for more than just its obvious breakup connotations. Lyrics like “Goin’ out of my mind / Don’t even know my own name half the time” are also winks to Kevin’s wavering sanity, and the various ways it has derailed his love life in these years since we’ve known him. He and Nora – who were always on borrowed time, brought together less by love than by the necessity of grief – have reached polar ends, so that all that exists between is chaotic, magnetic energy. Enough to get by, but not persist.
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There are two other prominent musical clues in “G’Day Melbourne,” most notably the repeated use of A-Ha’s “Take On Me” – first as a piano variation when Nora visits the doctors, later as an instrumental overlay when Nora’s small-space endurance is tested, and the original song as the credits song. The ’80s hit is lyrically bare but well remembered for its reality-bending music video, where a hand-drawn man in a news strip pulls a live-action woman into his world of lines and surreality. It’s an appropriate, if silly, metaphor for the warped love affair Nora and Kevin have enjoyed, never quite on the same plane but fighting together anyway.
Their breakup scene – in an Australian hotel, after a day of fraught parallel odysseys – is scored by a segment from the Italian opera La traviata, an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ novel Camille, about a tragic, forbidden love. (Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge! was loosely based on the same story.) It’s a powerful, arch scene – Kevin sets Matt’s book on fire and tosses it in a sink, so that as they argue, they’re colored by flames – and the music drags the emotions to their most maudlin. If there was any question about the finality of their courtship, that seems to seal it.
It’s an appropriate conclusion after the breathless series of events that come before. Kevin and Nora head to Australia so that she can expose the scammers she met in episode two, the ones who spoke of a tech that blasts people into the same realm where the departed now live. Nora sneaks $20,000 into the country by taping it to her stomach and going through the global checkout lane to avoid airport security scanners, a fact she keeps from Kevin until they’re safe on the other side – the first inklings of their fracturing. They have sex in the airport bathroom, a sort of last-ditch effort to convince themselves that they’re in this together, and she tells him how she’ll pretend to accept the offer to cross over so that she can gather intel on this mysterious company. What she doesn’t say, but what the episode hints at, is that maybe she isn’t there to expose anyone after all. Maybe this really is her chance to find her family again.
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Once in Melbourne, Nora follows directions to the secret location where she’ll begin the crossing over procedure. As she waits for a bus to the facility, a woman asks her to watch her baby while she goes on a job interview, a task Nora grudgingly accepts. When the bus arrives and the woman isn’t back, Nora runs inside, gives the baby back, and chases after the bus, catching it just in time. Later, after meeting the female doctors running the “scam” and going through the first steps of preparation, Nora realizes this mother and baby were likely a test. The female doctors ask Nora one last question before she is to go forward with the procedure, a hypothetical situation wherein two twin babies are born, and one will discover the cure for cancer. Would Nora choose to kill the other baby for this to happen? (This is the same question we saw an unnamed man in last week’s episode wondering aloud, just before setting himself on fire in front of Kevin, Sr.) She pauses, asks a few follow-up questions (are the kids hers, how does it die) before concluding that kids die every day, so what’s one more.
It’s the wrong answer. The doctors rush away, out the door, leaving a distraught Nora in their wake. It seems she really wanted their help to move on, despite the risks of the procedure. (One of the doctors outright says that it’s more likely people die when they cross over than live on happily with their loved ones). Now that they’ve left her in the dust, she’s determined to destroy them.
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Kevin’s Australian journey is more surreal, in that very Kevin Garvey way. In the hotel room, while watching a morning talk show (called G’Day Melbourne, the episode’s title), he sees what appears to be Evie in the audience outside the studios. Distraught – didn’t Evie die? – Kevin rushes to the filming location and chases her down. The woman certainly looks like Evie, only she’s wrapped in a headscarf, has an accent, and says that her name is Daniah Moabizzi. Unconvinced, Kevin snaps a photo and sends it to Laurie, who looks up Daniah, learns that she works in a library, then warns Kevin to leave her alone.
But of course he doesn’t, because Kevin never does what he’s told, and he finds Daniah at the library. She first admits to being Evie, then recants, saying someone told her to say that, because Kevin is “sick.” It’s Laurie who contacted her, and Laurie who asked Daniah to confirm Kevin’s delusion so as not to derail him. Kevin calls Laurie, angrily, and she explains this to him, then tells him to look at the photo he snapped. He does, and it’s not Evie, not at all. When he looks back up at Daniah he finally sees her for who she is – a completely different woman. Why did his mind warp her into Evie? Laurie believes it’s because Kevin understands why she did what she did, why she left her family. “I think a part of you wants to escape, Kevin,” she tells him, before asking how things are with Nora.
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Things aren’t great. They reunite at the hotel, breakup after he accuses her of enjoying her victim status and she accuses him of wanting to be the messiah so he can feel important. He leaves the hotel with his bag, perhaps leaving Nora forever, but when he attempts to get a taxi, he learns from the hotel’s door man that there’s been “an explosion.” Sirens wail and lights flash, and in the midst of chaos, a car pulls up and out walks Kevin, Sr. He’s with Grace, and together they’ve tracked down Kevin, Jr., who wants to leave the country but is told all flights have been grounded.
“Are you alone here?” Kevin, Sr. asks his son.
“Yes,” he responds.
“Well, you’re not alone anymore.”
It’s unclear what this explosion was, or why it grounded all flights, but somehow it doesn’t matter. There’s a touching quality to seeing Kevin, Jr. hop in the car with his dad and Grace, a smile on his face. It’s all coming together, after all.
Other Observations:
In the airport, Nora sees a man get carted away for attempting to smuggle something though security. He shouts that a “nuclear event” is about to happen and that he has to get to Antarctica. It seems like some crazy throwaway moment, but perhaps this is the “explosion” we later learn of.
Kevin brought Matt’s book about him to Australia, which amuses Nora. But the text haunts him - as he reads through it, he flashes back to all of the bizarre things he’s seen and done – Patty, pushing that girl down the well – and appears conflicted.
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The male doctor who does the tests on Nora looks like a young Dick Van Dyke.
We learn that Mark Linn-Baker has finally crossed over, presumably for that Other Dimension reunion of Perfect Strangers.
There’s honestly nothing better than Nora referring to Kevin as “Jesus Christ Fucking Superstar.”
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