The Book of Nora
Written by Tom Spezialy & Damon Lindelof
Teleplay by Tom Perrotta & Damon Lindelof
Directed by Mimi Leder
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.
“How can I ever stand in front of a room full of people and convince them I have the answers when I have no idea what the f**k I’m talking about?” – Matt Jamison
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.