This weekend, one of television's most critically acclaimed shows will begin its final season. Watching HBO's rapturous drama transform from a divisive experiment into a Peabody Award-winning masterpiece has been thrilling. And if these spoilers for The Leftovers Season 3 are any indication, the final season will be the most thrilling one yet.
When Bustle sat down to talk with the cast and crew about the upcoming episodes — including actors Carrie Coon, Kevin Carroll, Chris Zylka, and Jovan Adepo, as well as director Mimi Leder — the sentiments expressed by all were fairly uniform: grief that the show was coming to an end, gratitude that they got to be a part of it… and excitement for the fans to see what creators Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta have in store for them this year.
Whatever it is, it's bound to be mind-blowing. When Season 2 ended, Kevin Garvey had died and come back to life (twice!); Evie and her missing friends were revealed to have joined the Guilty Remnant; and that cult overran the miraculous town of Jarden. But things actually ended on a semi-hopeful note, with Kevin returning home after his most recent brush with death to find his entire family waiting for him with open arms.
So what happens next? To reveal too much would be to spoil the fun of the final season, but the cast is willing to share a few tantalizing teases…
1. Carrie Coon (Nora Durst)
When asked if viewers could expect any of the characters to gain closure given the uncertain world they live in, Coon specifies that she thinks "acceptance of your circumstances is possible," if not closure. "Because the only thing we can control is how we respond to what's thrown at us."
That certainly applies to her own character. "[Nora] has to understand that the only thing she can control is herself," the actor tells Bustle. "'Control' I actually think is the wrong word, because that feels like a prohibition. That feels like you're doing something wrong if you're out of control, which I don't actually believe. I think human beings are entitled to a full range of expression and are in fact healthier for it."
Coon thinks there's an important lesson Nora has to learn in the final season: "Most of the time we're preoccupied with the past or the future, but the present is actually always OK. The moments you're actually in, when you're not worried about what came before or what's coming, are actually OK no matter what's happening — which is an extraordinary realization that very few of us figure out in our lifetimes. But it's true. It's really true."
2. Kevin Carroll (John Murphy)
For his part, John Murphy was profoundly changed by his experience in the Season 2 finale, when he murdered a man in cold blood… and then watched that man come back to life. "It gave him license to believe in miracles," Carroll says of his character's development. "We're going to watch in Season 3 how he now operates in the understanding that flexibility in life is actually empowering," the actor elaborates. "He doesn't have to control everything around him, and he can still be safe and maintain his core."
So, will things turn out well for the Murphy family in the end? "The notion of things turning out well for people can be a standalone notion — meaning there is no one way that means people are OK. Especially in a world like this, the notion of being OK is something that starts from a very personal sense of where these characters grow from and through."
3. Chris Zylka (Tommy Garvey)
For two seasons now, Tommy has drifted in and out of cult after cult; but the Leftovers Season 3 trailers have shown Kevin's adopted son in a police uniform. So has he finally left cults behind for good? "In Tommy's case, he's been constantly searching for something," Zylka says. "Then in the Season 2 finale, he realizes that what he was searching for all along was right at home: his family."
But given that there's a whole season left, the character's search for meaning can't be over quite yet, surely. "[Tommy]'s going to question everything," Zylka confirms. "In the world that we live in, the Leftovers world, everyone's constantly questioning everything — because the ultimate question happened. 'Where did they go? What happened?' Obviously, he's going to continue to question; but they're all learning on this journey. I think Tommy's evolved enough to be content with where he is… because he's been everywhere else."
4. Jovan Adepo (Michael Murphy)
Like his father, young Michael experienced some incredible events in Season 2; but unlike his father, Michael already had a strong sense of faith, so his response to those events will be very different. "He's been exposed to a lot of things that cannot be explained easily," Adepo says. "He really has to try to take things one step at a time. He has to go through a journey to figure out what it's doing to him and his faith. He has to experience it and come up with his own conclusions."
And what about his family, which was left in tatters at the end of Season 2? "Michael is doing his best just to deal with the circumstances of his family the best way he can," he says. "Outside of all the, dare I say, 'supernatural' elements of the show, these people are still dealing with normal-people problems. Or not even problems, but normal-people circumstances within the families. There's still very normal emotions that go on."
5. Mimi Leder
Executive producer Mimi Leder has been with the show since Season 1, directing several of the series' most acclaimed episodes. "The first season was about the event of the Departure; and the second season was the reaction to it, and going to Miracle, and all that that entailed," she says when discussing Season 3's themes. "Then the third season is about the stories we tell ourselves. I think everyone's looking for a story or a belief system that gives meaning to their lives. We're all looking for something that allows us to find some degree of peace or even happiness."
Leder things audiences will find themselves relating to the show more strongly than ever before this year — and not for the cheeriest of reasons. "The questions of loss and fear and dread and anxiety about what's going on in the world… there are a lot of parallels to the moment we're living in right now," she acknowledges. "There's so much uncertainty. I don't think we'll ever know certain things in life, and obviously we won't. But what would it be like if you did know all the answers? Would you live better? Would you have a better life? I don't know. Maybe not."
We'll find out when The Leftovers Season 3 premieres this Sunday, April 16.