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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Leftovers finale director Mimi Leder explains what she thinks really happened

Illustration for article titled Leftovers finale director Mimi Leder explains what she thinks really happened
Screenshot: D. Georgiev

Yes, yes, ambiguity and uncertainty are at the heart of any true human drama, and there are few clear answers in life, let alone explanations for the hundred and one strange and mystifying experiences that have shaped us in profound and indefinable ways. Our lives are all the richer for remaining complex and open-ended in all the aspects that matter. Now, with that caveat out of the way: To hell with uncertainty. Tell us what really happened to Nora in the series finale of The Leftovers, episode director Mimi Leder!


The acclaimed helmer is currently making the rounds doing press for The Morning Show, the Jennifer Aniston/Reese Witherspoon drama premiering as part of the Apple TV+ streaming service launch next week. Honestly, it’s surprising it took this long for her to confirm something she’s hinted at in the past couple of years—her take on what really happened to Carrie Coon’s Nora—but during a new interview with Collider, the helmer of one of the better series finales in recent memory lays out a succinct answer. For those who don’t recall, the show ended with Nora telling her long-lost love Kevin (Justin Theroux) that she traveled to another reality where she found her disappeared family, but after realizing they had found peace there, she managed to discover a way back to our world. So was the story bullshit, or no? Here’s Leder’s take:

I think that people have belief systems, and I think she believes she went through because I think we all need stories to tell ourselves to get through this life. We tell ourselves stories to survive. So, do I think she went through? No.

That tracks with what Theroux and others have said about the finale and Nora convincing herself that something happened even if it didn’t, but the three people who would actually know the truth—writers Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta, as well as Coon herself—have sworn to take it to their graves. Still, Leder’s closer to it than most of us, so let’s just take her word for it. Unless, you know, Nora really went through. Or maybe she doesn’t believe it, either, but wants Kevin to think it’s true? Great, now we just need to watch it again.

Alex McLevy is a writer and editor at The A.V. Club, and would kindly appreciate additional videos of robots failing to accomplish basic tasks.