Then we go into the future...
In the same way Lost used the "flash-forward" and "flash-sideways" scenes to provide information and introduce new mysteries, the new episode of The Leftovers uses that three-year gap to draw you in with questions. Did the Guilty Remnant get wiped out in the drone attack? What happened to Nora's arm and why is she working for the Department of Sudden Departure again? Is Kevin actually the Christ-like figure Matt believes he is? Where's Lily? Where's Erika? What's up with the Gary Busey statue?
None of these dangling threads is as potentially mind-blowing and Lost-like as the reveal that comes at the end of the episode. As Kevin gets ready to burn the gospel Matt has been writing for him, he looks into the sky and sees a bird, which the camera follows to what appears to be a dove farm in Australia. Like the ones from the prologue, these birds also have little messages tied to their feet.
A woman with her face obscured then uses her bike to transport these possibly prophetic doves to a nun at a church. "Don't usually get so many so close together," says the nun. "Love is in the air." After paying the dove-transporter for her troubles, the nun asks her a question: "Sarah, does the name Kevin mean anything to you?"
That's when we get the big reveal: The dove-transporter is an older Nora, Kevin's romantic partner throughout most of the series and probably the show's most compelling character. "No," says Nora, denying her relationship with Kevin in a way that brings to mind Peter's denial of Jesus in the New Testament. Besides the Bible, the final moment might also remind you of the spine-tingling "we have to go back" scene from Lost's Season 3 finale, when the concept of the "flash-forward" was first introduced.
This jump into the future could have all sorts of implications forThe Leftovers endgame. What type of messages are on those birds feet? Why do they mean that "love" is in the air? Why did Nora, who now goes by Sarah, deny knowing Kevin? (And OK: Why is it so hard to create convincing old-age makeup?) There are only seven episodes left, and judging by the hours of television that have come before, it's safe to assume that the ending of The Leftovers will deviate from the spiritual bear-hug that Lost delivered. Expect ambiguity. Expect mystery. Expect birds.