Surely, no one watching a Damon Lindelof series comes into it expecting answers, right? We’ve all learned by now that enlightenment of a more literal order is not the Lost creator’s bag. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good, engaging story come out of the unknown. And that goes doubly so in season two of his HBO show, The Leftovers, where the mysteries of Mapleton, New York continue their ambiguous, post-Departure ways in Miracle, Texas. With a new locale, new family, and new kink in the chain—namely, no one in this town disappeared—the show’s sophomore season is deepening its own lore in exciting and fascinating new ways.
And this time there’s actually some smiling. Smiling!
If you don’t want to be potentially spoiled on some vague story points, step away now. You’ve been warned.
After seeing the first few episodes, it’s clear Lindelof and his crew have a much bigger scope in mind for their dark drama. The events of season one were merely the context for a much bigger gameplan that moves beyond the end of Tom Perrotta’s novel, and the Garvey family’s move to Miracle, Texas introduces a fascinating hiccup in the worldwide Departure situation. With nary a lost member of the town to be had in good ol’ Miracle, there might be something in the water there—literally—that’s kept this place protected (and yes we use that word couched in a heck of a lot of ominous dread). Could it be due to mysterious happenstances of a very, very long time ago? The opening scene does have all the trappings of a mythical mystery of other-worldly (and/or magical?) proportions. And the new opening credits—so much lighter and filled with downright folk-ified whimsy—point directly to a new focus that’s out-of-this-world. But what does it all mean? C’mon, this is Lindelof: you know we’ll never know.
But that’s sort of the linchpin of his work; and either you get it and accept it by now or you don’t. Reveling in the world-without-answers allows the show to have a lot more fun. Because the journey towards some sort of enlightenment and/or understanding beyond human comprehension is of much more import than the answer itself. It’s the sort of storytelling HBO is wont to do these days (True Detective season one, never forget), only it’s managed to somehow get more focused in a world made much bigger. (And admit it: that’s impressive! coughtruedetectiveseasontwo)
Miracle (née Jarden) is a National Park in the eyes of the government given its Mecca-like importance to the world post-Departure, but it’s not without its own set of darker edges and deeper secrets. And opening up the understanding of what’s happened in the world to a town that was literally not affected by the show’s central mystery gives it a lot more questions than answers. Except one, it seems: religion (Hey: Reza Aslan is a newly minted Consulting Producer on the series this year) or some sort of belief in a power/force outside of one’s self. In a spooky way. But how does a belief—or a lack thereof—affect a person at their limit without answers? It seems we’re watching to find out.
The Murphy clan are a happy, well-adjusted family: there’s doctor/mom Erika (Regina King (!!!)), firefighter/dad John (Kevin Carroll), and teenage twins Evie (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Michael (Jovan Adepo)—and yes, they definitely have the free-spirit/alter boy juxtaposition going on. But deeper inspection reveals quirks abound with these folks, some seemingly benign, others decidedly not. All of varying degree of crazy. And when their new neighbors get to town though: hoo boy. Bad things. Not great things, y’all. Stuff goes down. It takes awhile to bring the new and old factions of our story together, but it’s worth it once they do.
Mystery abounds! Belief is questioned! Worlds grow weirder and wider still! Which the show might actually be having some fun with this season, instead of wallowing in an at-times dirge-y fashion. Though we’ve always been a fan of the show, admitting to its first season’s occasional tedium doesn’t mean we think less of it. (C’mon that season finale was absolute fire y’all and, 100% truth right now, that pun was totally not intended but we’re sticking with it.) It’s just that now it feels de-shackled, in a way. Free to be what it is: which is maybe nothing, but also maybe something. Who’s to say, y’know?
Were you a fan of season one of The Leftovers? Tuning in for season two? Let’s dish and discuss in the comments below.
Image Credit: HBO
Alicia Lutes is the Associate Editor of The Nerdist. Find her perseverating over existential minuae—and pizza—on Twitter (@alicialutes).