“Everybody’s wonderin’ what and where
They all came from
Everybody’s worryin’ ’bout where they’re gonna go
When the whole thing’s done
But no one knows for certain and so it’s all the same to me
I think I’ll just let the mystery be”
The Leftovers, one of my all-time favorite shows, premiered last year and the long awaited second season this past Sunday on HBO after a longer than usual hiatus. Created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta, and based on Perrotta’s novel of the same name, The Leftovers tells the story of a global event, in which many people disappeared, called the “Sudden Departure”. On the day of the “Sudden Departure” 140 million people, 2% of the world’s population, inexplicably disappeared. The story then jumps ahead three years and focuses on the Garvey family and their acquaintances living in the fictional small town of Mapleton, New York. While we may never know what happened to the town of Mapleton and it’s citizens after the final moments of the season one finale, I am happy with how the writers brought our favorite characters into a new setting and a new town.
The new location of the story is Jarden, Texas, a small town much like Mapleton. However, unlike any other town, Jarden experienced zero ‘departures’. Thinking this is some sort miracle, people of the world come in droves, likening this town to a gateway to Heaven or a chosen sanctuary for those who remained or as the title of the episode implies, an axis mundi or center of the world. As a fan of TV series LOST, I always likened the island to an ‘axis mundi’. It, like the town of Jarden, act as sort of a bridge between Heaven and Earth. Well, I should say that after one episode the citizens of the world think Jarden is the bridge between Heaven and Earth, hence the title of the episode. This is one of the reason’s that Jarden has been renamed “Miracle” by the locals as well as people all over the world, it is a magnet for people/tourists that think it can keep them safe. And one person who desperately wants to be kept safe is Nora. Fans of season one can understand why Nora would want to come to this little town.
The Leftovers new family to focus the story on is the Murphy’s, whose matriarch, Erika Murphy, is played by the lovely and talented Regina King. Her husband, John Murphy, has a suspicious background, which I am sure will clash with Kevin’s ideals sometime this season. This is even more certain when we see the Garvey family, with new baby Lily in tow, move in right next door. The Murphys have two teenage children, Michael, who has already caught the eye of Jill, and Evie, who was sort of the focus of the premiere.
The Murphys are somewhat like the Garveys and we can already see the parallels (and opposites) being drawn between the two families. John is in civil service, just like Kevin, and like his opposite is an ex-con, who went for attempted murder. The attempted murder part of John’s story is another similarity he and Kevin share – remember, Kevin almost killed Patti last season.
John, so far, is the driving part of the story. He is a Jarden fireman and seems like the type of man who takes charge and doesn’t let things get to him. Unless, of course, Isaac tells him that something bad is going to happen. The literal meaning of the name Isaac is ‘He laughs/will laugh’. Isaac definitely had the last laugh as his prophecy came true. What I loved about Isaac’s prophecy to John was how much it got to John. John thinking the Apple Pie was poisoned was funny to watch fold back in on him. He tried to pawn it off onto the Garvey’s, but then Evie has an epileptic seizure and drops the birthday cake. This forces Kevin to get the Pie and bring it back to John. In the end, however, Isaac was right and ‘something bad’ did happen to John – Where did Evie disappear too?
The message I took from the first episode this season is that “life goes on”. From the cavewoman picking up the baby from the deceased mother to the relentless grasshopper John just couldn’t get to and take care of, the message was that life will find a way. Perhaps, as we learned in season one, that people disappear and leave us, season two will be about life and rebirth?
Just as season one had many mysteries for us to try and decipher, season two, through one episode, has already provided us with enough to keep us speculating until we get some more clues or some answers. Sunday’s episode was filled with questions such as why the town places glass enclosures around oddly shaped cracks in the ground, or why there was a wizard living on top of a pillar (and why he wanted a letter sent to Australia) to why that woman was wearing her wedding dress as she watered her lawn, to how that bird survived being buried alive inside that box or what was the gift Evie gave her dad before she went off with her friends. Oh, and the biggest mystery of the entire episode, where did Evie and her friends disappear to?
These questions, and the search for the clues to their answers, is what I love about The Leftovers. Season one may not have provided us with the ultimate answer to ‘where did the departured disappear to?’, but the journey to get to the end was fun, exciting and most importantly engaging. I am sure anyone who enjoyed the first season will love the second season premiere. The mystery that is set up for this season is intriguing and I’m looking forward to each and every episode. Welcome to Miracle.
Music from the Episode
– “Let The Mystery Be” – Iris DeMent
– “La Traviata: Prelude to Act 1” – Bonn Classical Philharmonic and Herbert Beissel
‘Cavewoman’ gives birth
– “Don’t Worry” – Justine Skye
Evie and her friends swim in the pond
– “Rockin’ In the Same Old Boat” – Bobby “Blue” Bland
When the Garveys + Nora pull up in front of their new house
– “Let Tomorrow Be” – Fern Jones
Thoughts and Discussion
– The ‘cavewoman’ from the beginning of the episode, that picks up the baby from the deceased mother, resembles the story of Nora picking up Lily at the end of last season.
– I love the connection between the beginning of the episode, Evie and her friends, swimming in the pond, and the end, Evie and her friends disappearing in the same pond.
– What was Dr. Goodheart gathering the water of the pond for? Does the water in Jarden hold some sort of special power? Why is there criminal prosecution for anyone who takes the water?
– Did you notice…some of the books the family stacked on John were ‘Mandela’, ‘Lenin’ and ‘Road To Terror’. The ‘Road to Terror’ deals with the hidden secrets of Communism and the dark inhumanity of the purge process.
Another book is also stacked there titled ‘The Stranger’ by Albert Camus. Tom is seen reading this book in the first episode of season one. The key sentence of the book is “I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe”.
– The score by Max Richter and the song selection was outstanding.
– Who is Mr. David Burton and why is the wizard-looking man sending a letter to him in Australia?
– To all of the LOST fans watching – the second bus coming into town was numbered 108.
– What was with the cracks in the ground enclosed in fiberglass? The one Michael rode his bike by was numbered ‘7’. So, we know there is at least seven of them. Also, when Michael was riding his bike, he rode past a woman wearing a wedding dress watering a lawn, what was that about? My guess is that the citizens of Jarden somehow combine what they did on the day of the Sudden Departure to bring themselves luck. Maybe? Anyways, I think it has to do with luck.
– Did you notice…Isaac shares his name with the antagonistic “seer” in Stephen King’s ‘Children of the Corn’ as well as the Australian healer from LOST.
– What was in the gift that Evie gave her dad before she disappeared? She said it was the best gift he will ever get. I loved the foreshadowing also when she says, “Don’t open it until I’m gone”.
– What was the noise John heard inside the Garvey house when he was giving Nora the Apple Pie and inviting them to the Birthday Party? Was it related to Kevin telling John he ‘fell’ in the following scene?
– Did you notice…The high school team is called the ‘Bridgemen’ (a play on ‘axis mundi’ which is the ‘bridge’ between Heaven and Earth). A sign on the bleachers reads “Bridge the Gap”. The school song’s last line is “That God had spared our town”.
– What were the numbers John and his firemen friends calling off before they went to Isaac’s home? My guess is that they all knew where they were going and the numbers represented the amount of damage they were going to inflict.
– How did that bird survive that Erika dug up out of the ground during her run?
– Did you notice…John was watching the Perfect Strangers just like Kevin’s dad was last season in the mental hospital. I thought it was funny when they showed the Perfect Strangers start fake his own departure and skipped town.
– What was with the Jarden Police tasering that woman for not having a bracelet on? They mean business if you are an outsider.
– What was with the man cutting the animal’s throat in the middle of that restaurant?
– Who brought John the Apple Pie?
– What is the connection between the quakes the cavewoman heard before the cave collapsed and the quakes in the present day, specifically the one just prior to the disappearance of Evie.
– Did you notice…when the Garvey’s arrive Kevin does not have a a band-aid on his forehead when he says hi to John from the walkway. What happened to Kevin? How did he get hurt?
– Did you notice…at the end of the episode, John and his son, Michael, are standing at the edge of the empty pond. It appears as though there is a ‘scar’ on the ground as if now the town of Miracle is scarred because something bad has happened. Is it just a coincidence that the Garvey’s show up in the Murphy’s life and within a few hours something like this happens?
– Why did Evie and her friends disappear? I realize this is not what the show is about and an answer we may never get, but it’s still fun to speculate. Was it because she took water from the pond and it’s forbidden? Did Dr. Goodheart disappear as well?
Some say once gone you’re gone forever
And some say you’re gonna come back
Some say you rest in the arms of the Savior
If in sinful ways you lack
Some say that they’re comin’ back in a garden
Bunch of carrots and little sweet peas
I think I’ll just let the mystery be”
– “Let The Mystery Be” – Iris DeMent