Episodes: 28 (hour)
TV show dates: June 29, 2014 — June 4, 2017
Series status: Ended
Performers include: Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Chris Zylka, Margaret Qualley, Emily Meade, Max Carver, Charlie Carver, Annie Q, Chris Eccleston, Liv Tyler, Carrie Coon, Ann Dowd, Michael Gaston, and Amanda Warren.
TV show description:
Based on the bestselling novel by Tom Perrotta, this dramatic series follows what might happen if 2% of the world’s population abruptly vanished without explanation. The remaining population struggles to come to terms with what has happened.
Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) is the father of two and the chief of police in the small New York suburb of Mapleton. He’s struggling to keep his family together, to keep his town from descending into chaos, and to keep himself in control. The tighter he tries to keep a grip on it all, the more everything seems to slip through his fingers.
His wife Laurie (Amy Brenneman) has always been the strong one. She’s smart, capable, compassionate, and has raised two kids while maintaining a successful career. Everything changed for her however after the “Departure.”
Their kids are Tom and Jill. After the Departure, Tom (Chris Zylka) ditched college, broke contact with his family, and went searching for something to believe in. What he found was Holy Wayne, a powerful prophet, and Christine, a girl he’s vowed to protect above all else.
Jill (Margaret Qualley) is having a hell of a time navigating high school, boys, a fractured family, and a father who’s doing his best but still screwing up. She pretends not to care in hopes that one day, she really won’t.
Aimee (Emily Meade) is confident and unpredictable, which in a teenager is both admirable and highly dangerous. She’s the devil on Jill’s shoulder and the big sister she never had. But she’s also searching for a family of her own.
Goofy and sweet, the Frost twins, Adam (Max Carver) and Scott (Charlie Carver), seem pretty much unbothered by what happened three years ago -— or maybe they’d just rather get high and play ping pong than think about it.
Christine (Annie Q) is a sweet girl at heart, but not afraid to use what she has to get what she wants. Above all, she’s a devoted disciple of Wayne, which either makes her woefully naïve or the smartest girl in the room.
Unlike most people, Reverend Matt Jamison (Chris Eccleston) has never lost his faith. He knows exactly what the Departure was and what it wasn’t. All he needs now is people to believe him.
Meg Abbott (Liv Tyler) has a picturesque house and a handsome fiancé, but something’s still not right. And she’ll do whatever it takes to figure out what that is and how to make it go away.
Nora Durst (Carrie Coon) is something of a local celebrity — for all the wrong reasons: She’s the only resident of Mapleton who lost her entire family in the Departure. Having survived the impossibly tragic, she still manages to wake up each day and put one foot in front of the other -– though who the hell knows where she’s going.
Patti Levin (Ann Dowd) is the mysterious leader of the Guilty Remnant, a cult of some kind. And it’s got a rapidly growing chapter in Mapleton, where Patti’s no-nonsense attitude helps her orchestrate the group’s increasingly strange behavior.
Dean (Michael Gaston) is a gun-toting, tobacco chewing man of few words, and it’s not immediately clear whether he’ll be an ally to Kevin or an enemy.
The mayor of Mapleton, Lucy Warburton (Amanda Warren) is very smart and all-business. Unfortunately, she’s not on Kevin’s side.
Episode #28 — The Book of Nora
Nora records her tape absolving all others of responsibility for her use of the machine. Dr. Eden walks Nora — accompanied by Matt — through the procedure: Nora will be given a saline solution and enter the chamber; the device will fill with fluid containing metals that will solidify “upon transport”; the doctors and Nora can remain in communication, but she will need to hold her breath once the liquid reaches her face. Matt hesitates when the fossil of an earlier participant is wheeled past, finally realizing what his sister is about to do.
Sitting together as she receives her IV drip, Nora ad-libs answers to the pretend obituary Matt has written for her. She reminisces about the “Matt-Libs” he used to send her when she was at camp, addressed to “The Bravest Girl on Earth.” Matt confesses he’s scared about what will happen with Mary, of dying, and even of surviving. Eden and Bekker come to collect Nora, who pauses when asked if she’s ready. She is.
Nora disrobes and enters the chamber. Over the intercom, Nora and Matt exchange “I love yous.” Nora opens her mouth as if to shout something, just as the fluid reaches her chin.
Ten years later, Nora, hair graying, stands in front of a pigeon coop collecting small slips of paper attached to the birds’ feet. She delivers crates of birds to a convent, dropping them off with a nun with an Australian accent. The nun address Nora as Sarah, and asks if the name “Kevin” means anything to her — a man came by with a photo of her.
Nora returns home and frantically packs money and clothing. Unable to ignore a knock at the door, she opens it to find Kevin. Stunned, Nora listens as Kevin reintroduces himself, claiming the last time they spoke was at the Christmas dance in Mapleton. In Australia on vacation, he saw Nora ride by, and looked up her address. Kevin denies showing her photo to anyone, and asks if Nora will accompany him to a dance in town that night. Nora tells him to leave.
On a desolate road, Nora uses a pay phone to call Laurie — alive and well, bouncing a baby on her knee. Laurie has not told anyone of Nora’s whereabouts, and isn’t sure why Kevin’s pretending he and Nora were never together. She lets Nora know it’s OK to go to the dance. Frustrated, Nora hangs up.
Nora moves through her house locking doors and windows. Once done, she takes a bath, panicking when the bathroom door gets stuck. Nora slams herself into the door, breaking it off its hinges. She lies on the floor, breathing in and out.
In town, Nora realizes Kevin misled her — it isn’t a dance, but a wedding. A drunk groomsman wearing Mardi Gras beads tries to give her a necklace, but she declines. Kevin explains he met the bride and groom in the hotel bar, and sticks to his story about last seeing her in Mapleton. Surprised Nora skipped Matt’s funeral, Kevin admiringly notes Mary loved Matt to the end. He shares that Jill is married with a daughter; Tommy’s landed on his feet after a less-than-successful marriage; and Senior is doing great at 91. Kevin tells her he had a pacemaker put after a heart attack, and offers to show her his scar. As to why he never remarried, Kevin confesses he’s still carrying a candle for her.
The bride and groom make a speech: They’ve gathered notes from everyone at the wedding and attached them to the feet of birds — Nora’s birds. The birds will deliver messages of love across the world. A goat is brought in, and everyone places their beads — representations of past sins — around the animal’s neck. A groomsman will drive the “scapegoat” into the bush, unburdening everyone of their misdeeds. Kevin and Nora slow dance when the music starts up again. She asks once more how he found her and when his story remains the same, she heads to her bike.
Back home, Nora is surprised her birds have not returned. Climbing a ladder to her roof, she searches the dark sky. With no trace of them, Nora pedals back to the convent, and sees a man climbing out a window. Nora knocks on the convent door, accusing the nun of interfering. The nun swears to God nothing happened with the man. Nora is incensed by the lie, and angrily rides for home.
Wiping out on her bike, Nora follows a trail of Mardi Gras beads to its source: the scapegoat. Seeing the animal caught in a wire fence on a high embankment, Nora struggles to release it, slipping on her way to the top. She places the beads around her own neck, and brings the creature home. Nora feeds the goat and sits down by the empty coop to go through a pail of discarded love notes.
Kevin pulls up to the house. Dropping the act, he tells Nora he never accepted she was dead, and spent every vacation in Australia in search of her. In an attempt to wipe the slate clean, he came up with the lie about their past, but everything else is true. Nora admits she has been in touch with Laurie, who as her therapist, couldn’t tell Kevin. Kevin wonders why Nora didn’t just tell him she was alive herself.
Nora describes going “through” the device to find a world just like theirs — but with 98 percent of the population gone. She eventually found her way to Mapleton, where she discovered her husband and children, older, and happy. Realizing she didn’t belong there, Nora sought out the man who had first used the machine — its inventor — and convinced him to send her back. She admits she thought about Kevin, and wanted to be with him, but so much time had passed, and she was certain he’d never believe her.
Kevin takes a moment, and responds he has no reason not to believe Nora — she’s here. He extends his hand, and she places hers in his. “I’m here,” Nora says through her tears. Outside, the birds come home. (Courtesy HBO.)
First aired: June 4, 2017.
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