by Coop Cooper
***UPDATE: It was renewed for a 3rd (and final) season :)***
It’s quite possible that HBO’s critically acclaimed original series “The Leftovers” may have aired its final episode. Sunday night marked the end of the second season and there is a possibility it will not be renewed for a third season due to lower than expected ratings. That would be a shame considering it is one of the best episodic shows on TV and after viewing this (potentially) final episode, I find myself desperately wanting to see a third season. Why? Because I finally understand it now.
The first season of “The Leftovers” follows the residents of Mapleton, New York and how they are managing life after a sudden mass disappearance of over 100 million people all over the world. These ‘departures’ change the culture of the world overnight. Some people try to move on with life, but are plagued with disturbing visions. Some seem to develop bizarre abilities while others form cults insisting that the world has ended and are hellbent on forcing everyone to accept it. The showrunners felt the tone of the first season was too dour and depressing for viewers, so they tried a different approach in Season two by relocating most of the main characters to Miracle, Texas which is known for being the only municipality in the world to be spared from departures. The town is turned upside down when three local teens disappear without a trace and soon the characters realize that their problems have followed them to this supposedly safe zone. Meanwhile, the cult known as ‘The Guilty Remnant’ plans a cruel act of terror which could destroy Miracle.
The secret of “The Leftovers” is not WHY the characters are being put through this. It’s all about how each of them deal with it. For a long time, no reason was hinted for why the departure happened. Although the show was based on a series of books, fans of the show had to guess the cause all the way up to the end of the second season, because no clear answer was ever given. Only very vague clues hinted at a biblical apocalypse in which the remaining characters had to suffer through the trials of some sort of purgatory while mourning their departed loved ones (the Season One opening credits sequence was the biggest indication of this). However, while fans beat their heads against the wall trying to figure out the mystery, it turns out they were missing the point all along.
After spending some time with each character – each episode usually focuses on one in addition to the overarching story – you learn how deeply flawed each one is. Some are looking for redemption, others are searching for faith while many are simply looking for a reason to go on existing. They all deal with the departure in extreme ways. One character puts on a bullet proof jacket and pays prostitutes to shoot them in the chest. Another goes to extreme measures to prove his catatonic wife sometimes snaps into lucidity and talks to him. The most frightening ones try desperately to hasten the end of the world and they don’t care who they hurt in the process. Each one is constantly tested with tribulations and it would appear that the ones who make the most painful sacrifices or embrace their faith find any sort of peace, even if its only temporary. Often, they make terrible choices that lead them down horrific paths, but there always seems to be some glimmer of hope that they will get to where they need to go.
“The Leftovers” is a fascinating rollercoasters of emotions that the viewer must trust to take them on a journey, even if they never find out that journey’s purpose. It’s a rare show that deserves to be seen and allowed to continue to its intended conclusion.
“The Leftovers” seasons one and two can currently be viewed on HBO and in its entirety online at HBO GO. It’s expected to be released soon on Amazon Prime Video. If you are looking for a show to binge-watch, you won’t find many shows as well written, acted and produced. Perhaps if enough people do watch it online, HBO will feel compelled to continue it into Season 3.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars