The Leftovers S3 E6 Review: Certified
Laurie (Amy Brenneman) may have one of the most interesting character arcs on The Leftovers. The former suicidal psychiatrist turned cult-member, turned fraudulent psychic has been through the ringer, to say the least. Since the events of the finale in season 2, Laurie is now married to John Murphy, a self-proclaimed disciple of her ex-husband’s Jesus, Kevin. She’s not a believer herself, though. Laurie is a woman of logic and fact, and can’t even fathom the notion of Kevin being anything more than delusional. However, Certified puts the character of Laurie in different light, unlike anything we’ve ever seen from her before.
Certified opens up with a chilling scene, featuring Sam’s mother from the pilot episode of The Leftovers, pouring her soul out to her therapist, Laurie. The mother of the departed infant tells her story, how her child vanished on the 14th, the same day that Laurie witnessed her unborn child depart from an ultrasound screen. “Tell me what to do,” she repeats over and over again, until the frozen therapist replies with, “I don’t know.”
We now learn that, before joining The Guilty Remnant, Laurie actually tried to commit suicide via pills. Giving her character this much needed backstory speaks volumes about Laurie’s actions thus far, giving her an entirely new layer of emotion. After forcefully throwing up dozens of pills, Laurie goes home and changes into an all-white jumpsuit, and well, you know what happens next.
Amy Brennerman is sublime in her Laurie-centric episode, Certified. The vulnerability Brennerman portrays, in a character that has almost always been calm and confident, is subtle yet noticeable enough for us to empathize. Laurie has always been a tough character to read, and if I’m being honest, was one of the main characters that most of us didn’t quite care for. Letting the audience behind the curtain into Laurie’s psyche truly does add a great deal of emotion to her story, which makes the end of this episode so tragic.
Before we get to that, Laurie does her best to help both Kevin and Nora on their own separate journeys. Nora is destined to track down the two physicists that previously denied her the opportunity of “passing through” to where the departed have gone. Nora and Laurie’s dialogue throughout Certified is exquisite, and the bond the two form is heart-wrenching and raw. Nora finds the scientists she was looking for, and she and Matt send Laurie off to find Kevin. The moment that the two say goodbye to one another is poetic, and Coon and Brennerman play off of each other brilliantly.
Upon arriving at the farm, Laurie expresses that she wants to be a part of what’s happening there (Kevin Sr. and the Murphy Apostles killing Kevin and bringing him back to life). After a moment of pure horror, in which Laurie calls herself Judas, while drugging her ex-father in law, husband, and step-son, we finally see her and Kevin talk about what’s been happening.
Justin Theroux, at this point has become Kevin, materializing in this episode on horseback, noble, and calm. The two opening up about their past together, and conversing as two lovers who never properly said goodbye, with the iconic Leftovers score playing in the background, is a tearjerker. To finally see Kevin talk about his experience at the “other place,” and how real it was to him is what this series has been building toward. All of the craziness and absurdity dials down for a few quiet moments that closes the door on Kevin and Laurie’s relationship is a special moment that this series needed. You will be sobbing, be warned.
Speaking of crying, earlier in the episode, Nora and Laurie discuss suicide, which we, of course, found out that Laurie tried to commit. Nora explains that if she were to go out that way, she would go scuba diving and make it seem like an accident. Well, the end of the episode is the morning of October 14th, and a storm is coming in strong. We see Laurie on a boat, looking well rested, enlightened, and at peace. She’s the only one onboard, besides the captain, who’s telling her to make it snappy due to the incoming storm. Laurie is of course, going scuba diving.
Before diving into the ocean, she receives a (convenient) call from her daughter Jill and son Tom. It’s a nice little way for Laurie to say goodbye to her children without actually doing so, and I was floored in a puddle of sadness as the screen faded to black, showing the calm seas of Melbourne.
Certified is one of the best episodes of The Leftovers I’ve ever seen. The acting is brilliant, the moments are pure and Amy Brennerman is award worthy with her gripping performance. With only two more episodes to go, I’m not sure that I can handle this all coming to an end once and for all.
The Leftovers airs Sunday night on HBO.