Sunday night’s episode of The Leftovers, called “Certified,” was simultaneously beautiful, stunning, shocking, and heart-breaking. But viewers are wondering exactly what happened in that final scene and why. These are the theories and explanations that fans are sharing about how we should interpret the ending. After you read the article, let us know your thoughts at the end.
This article has spoilers through Season 3 Episode 6.
At the end of the episode, Laurie went out on a boat as a storm was rolling in, getting ready to go for a scuba dive. But this moment had deeper meaning, since Nora had just told her earlier that she thought a scuba dive was the cleanest way to commit suicide, because there would be no way to know whether or not it was an accident. Throughout the entire episode, we focused on how Nora and Kevin Jr. seemed suicidal. (We know from the flash forward in a previous episode that Nora will live. We just don’t know if she lived by not going through the machine, or if she survived the machine.) Interestingly, Nora and Kevin’s decisions were red herrings. All the time, it was Laurie who was closest to the edge.
But did she really do it?
The show left things ambiguous enough that viewers can decide for themselves whether Laurie committed suicide or just decided to go for a dive. The implications are heavy on the suicide side. That call from Jill might have saved her, just as helping her kids had saved her before. But this time, they were happy and didn’t really “need” her. (Although, just the fact that they called showed they needed her.) Instead of deciding to cancel the dive, she hung up the phone, smiled, and dove into the waters. We didn’t see her come back up.
More than likely, she did kill herself. But there’s still a chance that she didn’t and we just weren’t shown when she came back to the surface. We’ll likely never know for certain. The world is supposed to flood tomorrow, in The Leftovers universe. There won’t be time for Kevin Jr. or anyone else to find out what happened to Laurie. Unless Kevin goes back to the hotel and see Laurie there, we may never know for certain what she decided to do.
Throughout the series, Laurie struggled with living. And as this episode indicated, the thing that pulled her to the edge was when she didn’t have answers and couldn’t help people or make sense of things. In tonight’s episode, she faced those issues in a way that must have been overwhelming. She’s potentially losing everyone she’s close to, and there’s nothing she can do to fix it. Coupled with her belief that nothing supernatural is really going on (she doesn’t believe Kevin is a new Jesus), she may just not see any hope or anything she can do to help. And for her character, that’s a need she has. For example:
- Kevin Jr. is about to commit suicide. (In Laurie’s mind, that’s what he’s doing, whether he believes that or not. He believes he’ll be OK, so she knows she can’t do anything to stop him.)
- John still believes Evie is alive and that’s driving him to do things Laurie can’t relate to. Everything she did to “help” John was predicated on the idea that he believed Evie had died. Now she knows she steered him wrong.
- Nora is suicidal. All she wants is her children. Laurie can’t do anything to help her.
- Matt is dying. Laurie can’t fix this.
- Kevin Sr. may still be crazy and he’s willing to kill his son. (He believes Kevin Jr. will come back, but he’s willing to risk it.) That risk is a stark contrast to Nora, Grace, and John, who would do anything to see their children again.
All these situations spell helplessness for Laurie. Even her children, whose needs pulled her back from the edge and kept her going, seem OK right now.
There were a few moments when the show foreshadowed Laurie’s decision. She was assigned the role of Judas, who killed himself and didn’t leave a note. And he killed himself before Jesus’ crucifixion. Laurie chose a similar path. She gave her most prized position, the lighter, to Kevin Jr. This might have been with the hope that he would change his mind, but it might also have been another indication of what she was going to do.
There may have been other factors playing into Laurie’s decision at the end of the episode besides needing to help others. Laurie may also have found it far too painful to watch her world fall apart, to watch the people she’s close to die or go insane. And since she poisoned everyone just to talk to Kevin Jr., she’s “poisoned” the last connections she had that were healthy.
The Leftovers also shows us moments that Laurie could turn to if she was ready to live. It shows how her perspective is flawed and how there really is still a reason for her to keep on going. Kevin Jr. asked her to stay. He needed her with him. Whether or not she could change his mind, he needed her — especially now that Nora is gone. John still needs her. If he ultimately realizes that Evie really is dead, he will need Laurie more than ever. And her children are finally happy, but she’s about to bring all that tumbling down. She lied to Jill about where she was, so Jill will put the pieces together.
There are a million reasons for Laurie to decide to stay. But if she’s focused solely on the perspective of what’s wrong, and she convinces herself that she can’t help or make things better, then she may miss all those signs peppered throughout the episode showing her reasons to stay.
We don’t know if Laurie went through with it. The phone call was either her final goodbye or a divine sign to keep on living. We’ll likely never know. But what we do know is that this episode was a beautiful, poignant look at a character who went from being an absolute, frustrating mystery to a rock for many others. But inside, she was still hiding her struggles, while trying to help everyone else around her.
What do you think Laurie decided to do? Let us know in the comments below.
If you or someone you know might be suicidal or having suicidal thoughts, and live in the United States, call the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also chat with someone online at the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you’re not in the U.S., you can find a list of hotlines in other countries here.
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