The Television Thread

I considered that possibility but did end up believing her! I kind of wanted not to believe her but it just felt so in keeping with the rest of my interpretation of the show. I like how we leave many of our principal characters in these situations where they'll either be reborn or die, and all ending up submerged in water. Either baptism or drowning.

I think I've said before but one of my shorthand comparisons is to say if Lost is The X-Files, The Leftovers is Millennium. Both Millennium and The Leftovers make you feel like a crazy person more than any other show I think I've seen. The whole picture in X-Files and Lost is hazy, but you know something is happening. The other shows make you wonder what even is. Carter achieves this by giving you pointedly contradictory information which replicates the nature of conspiracy theory, like holding two completely incompatible narratives in your head at the same time ("Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK" vs "the CIA and Mafia killed JFK" for instance). Lindelof approaches this by giving you something so vague yet portentous you feel like Kevin Sr. the more you dig into it.
Lindelof has said that his wish is that the viewers of the show would be exactly divided 50/50 between those who believe Nora and those who don't. So, if you and I are a tiny microcosm, he has achieved his goal!

For me, Nora's journey is one of finding peace. She spends so much of the show fueled by rage, tearing down all the illusions and bullshit of others' belief systems because she KNOWS that there is nothing, no purpose, no meaning to life...just the awful pain and suffering that she understands better than anyone else can. In the finale, she finally comes to accept that it's ok to let go of the darkness and hurt. It's ok to believe in something that gives a little more sense to the world. It's ok to tell yourself a nice story (there's even a moment when the nun is talking about the pigeons spreading messages of love earlier in the episode, she has a line she says to Nora: "It's just a nicer story"). I think there's a weird beauty in the idea that Nora finally learns how to lie to herself, in an arguably healthy way that allows her to let go. And, for me, Kevin sees through it, and accepts it. As long as Nora chooses to believe it, it's real, and that's good enough for Kevin.

But really, I think the finale is kind of a Rorschach test. By leaving it up to the viewer to decide, Lindelof and Perrotta have opened the floor for us to learn about ourselves by how we respond. As I've said before, I'm an atheist, but I also can find beauty in belief (while also being highly skeptical of faith and viewing it as potentially extremely dangerous). It's interesting to me that I choose to believe (ha!) that Nora finds faith in a sense, and that I view that as a positive step in her journey, even if it is a lie.

BTW, there is a terrific Vulture article about the making of the final season that is well worth reading for its incredibly candid insight into the writing process: How to End a TV Show: An Exclusive Look at the Making of The Leftovers Finale
I think you can argue something similar happened to her brother as well. This man from the Hotel, Flash-sideways, whatever you want to call it was "special" in a way similar to Kevin and started to fancy calling himself God (unless you suppose he actually was God, either way). He served as a truthful enough facsimile to allow Matt to transform his faith by measuring God up and finding him lacking. That final moment of It's a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World where Chris Eccleston breaks the fourth wall is so powerful, because whether that guy truly is a God that failed or he isn't, it's a close enough approximation to matter for Matt, and us.

I'm shocked that this hasn't received more publicity. The restoration is only available on US Britbox. It's not available here in the UK where the series was made and there's no sign of a Blu-ray or 4K physical media release! Insanity. This is one of the greatest TV shows ever made!