What happened to Jeevan? The idea that he intentionally abandoned Kirsten was unthinkable, and yet the possibility was aggressively teased. He behaved erratically, including talking to his dead siblings; he was increasingly frustrated with Kirsten’s comic-book obsession; his brother nicknamed him “Leavin’ Jeevan.” In his lowest moments, Jeevan even blamed Kirsten for Frank’s death. But this week, we learn Jeevan was mauled by the same wolf that had been stalking Kirsten’s rabbit traps and which we heard baying in the background of previous episodes. He was angry with Kirsten when it happened, but the reason he was out so late at night was to recover her copy of Station Eleven, which he’d callously thrown into the woods. He vanishes from her life on an errand to repair their relationship. He doesn’t die. He harnesses whatever instinct caused him to leap onstage to help Arthur — to make sure a young girl made it home — and puts it at the center of his postapocalyptic life. In short, “Dr. Chaudhary” is a perfect answer to the question that has hung over the entire season. No notes.
The episode opens about a year after the flu hits. Holed up in a cabin in the woods, Jeevan and Kirsten alternate playing grown-up. She decides when he’s been eating too many candy bars; he hauls and processes the deer she hunts. He worries about the dangers of spending winter entirely isolated from the outside world, while she buries herself deeper and deeper into Station Eleven, a coping mechanism that befits her age. What is it Arthur told Miranda? “Even when you’re here, you’re not here.” Without much other company, Jeevan still talks aloud to the ghost of Frank and scans a ham radio for other voices. “I’m a doctor,” he blurts to someone in need of a doctor, willing to say whatever needs saying in exchange for conversation.
There’s not much to do, and he’s losing it. Kirsten occupies herself with reading and knife-throwing. She prefers the safety of the cabin anyway. But when a stranger plows the road, they resume some of their other activities like scavenging. Kirsten, who’s basically a sniper at this point, keeps watch from a water tower while Jeevan searches abandoned houses for medicine, food, and warm clothes. In one home, a man who survived his family made an eerie instrument out of recordings of their voices. There are still other people in the world even if Jeevan and Kirsten have seen fewer than ten. One is a pregnant woman who shoots Jeevan in the head with a beanbag round when Kirsten is meant to be guarding him. Instead, she’s reading Station Eleven for the zillionth time, and Jeevan fights the woman off on his own.
Later, they argue about it. It’s everyone’s and no one’s fault. Kirsten’s just a kid making a kid’s mistakes. He wants her to be an adult with him. The expectation is unfair, but he’s just a person, lonely and frayed. He implies Frank died only because they stayed in Chicago for her play, the meanest thing he could ever say and an accusation she’ll never forget. Jeevan doesn’t take it back but tries to make it up to her, venturing into the dark to find the copy of Station Eleven he tossed. The wolf is waiting. It’s a miracle Jeevan shoots him in the midst of the attack and a miracle he survives the night. In the morning, he’ll drag himself in the direction of the cabin, his chewed-up foot useless, to bring Kirsten her comic. He passes out just before he makes it home.
We’ve been to this narrative fork before but never followed it in Jeevan’s direction long enough to know he’s alive. Lara (Tattiawna Jones) — the same woman who shot him in the head and talked to the doctor over the radio — brings him to a makeshift birthing center inside a big-box store. It’s the closest thing we’ve seen to civilization recreating itself: a purpose-built institution serving a community need. It’s run by Terry (Tara Nicodemo), a kooky doctor who survived the pandemic by dint of disgrace. She’d lost her license and wasn’t working when the flu hit. Now she’s seeing patients again, a dozen or so “prenatally synchronized” women who she predicts will give simultaneous birth on the winter solstice. Batshit if true. Jeevan’s been there about two weeks already, slipping in and out of consciousness. When he wakes up, they’ve amputated his foot, and Kirsten is gone.
So Jeevan stays at the birthing center. He’s not the doctor he claimed to be on the radio, but Terry’s willing to teach him. And what choice does he have? He’s in a wheelchair now, and the Michigan snowdrifts may as well be mountains. Crucially, he has no one to go home to. He tells Terry that Kirsten is “just someone I ended up with,” but the words don’t fit the enormity of what they became. Rose, another patient, has her own “just someone I ended up with.” She’s the one who recognizes that the language left over from the pre-pandemic world is insufficient to describe where they live now.
In spite of his grief, Jeevan thrives. Eventually, he gets around on a cane and the stump of his foot. When the babies come nearly all at once, he stays cool. He helps these women who have brought their pregnancies so far on their own, and it heals him. He finds a purpose he didn’t have before the flu. There are bad outcomes, of course. Rose’s baby survives, but Rose doesn’t. When they inform her “just someone” — a kid she must have met along the way — he answers only that “there’s no before.” Tyler is already out there, calling himself a prophet and building his followership. And inside this store, Jeevan is delivering babies with the “Dr. Eleven” name tag Kirsten made him affixed to his coat. After they discharge the last patients, Terry hands him a “Dr. Chaudhary” tag. Prophet, doctor, actor. In this new world, you are who you say you are.
And that’s what happened to Jeevan. He didn’t want to leave Kirsten. I don’t believe he ever would have left her. When he goes to search for her one last time, he finds his grandfather’s compass — the one Frank gave her — on the kitchen table. The Frank who lives in his memory assures Jeevan that Kirsten will find someone to take care of her just like she found Jeevan. Until she finds the Travelling Symphony, she has Dr. Eleven to keep her company and her own memories of the man who played him.
Throughout the episode, as he mourns losing Kirsten, Jeevan forges an intimacy with Lara, the woman who attacked and later saved him. By the end of the episode, she’s a mother. They leave the birthing center on her bike, Jeevan cradling her new son in the sidecar. Lara’s the one who went back to the cabin to look for Kirsten before, and she takes him there again to look once more. Twenty years later, they live together by the lake. They have more kids including a son called Frank and a daughter who’s upset to learn her father is setting off on a house call. No one mentions where Jeevan’s headed, but we know of a woman who needs a doctor in an airport not too far away.