Finishing the first season of HBO’s The Leftovers felt like an accomplishment. Similar to a one-minute plank, you assume something good will come out of it. But while you are in the moment, it all seems so painful and tedious. The premise of the show is what made all the agony seem worth my time. 2% of the world’s population mysteriously disappears. Everyone left has to deal with missing the taken or the guilt of being one that is left behind. There are so many avenues to explore in what seems like an alternate universe ripped from an episode of The Twilight Zone. Unlike my commitment to one-minute planks, I have reaped the reward from all of the tediousness and confusion that the first season of The Leftovers wrought.
Season one was work, but the finale made it all worth it. Many (not all) of the loose ends in the story were tied together. (I’m being purposefully vague here. If I can’t have someone do planks for me, then you can’t have someone watch all the bat crap crazy parts of The Leftovers for you.)
This week, HBO aired the season two premiere.
It was immediately clear to me that there will be the same amount of frustration with this season. I will say “This better make sense!” the same amount of times. But, this time, I’m going to trust that there will be some sort of resolution in the end. Here are some clues I’ve gathered that may or may not be helpful as evidence of what is going on in this season of The Leftovers.
Exhibit A: The Opening Credits
Percentage of Helpfulness: 55%
Last season, the opening credits felt heavy. Interpreting the images felt like analyzing an art history textbook. The music behind the images was wordless and somber. This season, it sounds like HBO dug up the Dixie Chicks (it’s actually Iris Dement) and had them sing about how we should “let the mystery be” with a fun, folksy melody behind it.
The new opening credits match the change in the show’s tone. Miracle, TX is a total change from Mapleton, NY. There are no sad deer, no silent cults and I didn’t see one stray dog. It is obvious that this alteration should influence our interpretation of the show. I’m just unsure how long this cheerful tone will last throughout the season.
Exhibit B: Cave-Lady Births & Earthquakes
Percentage of Helpfulness: 32%
When the “previously ons” aired, I was confused. When the new opening credits aired, I was concerned I recorded the wrong show. When the cave-lady birthed a baby, I was sure my drink had been laced with a hallucinogen. This was either the fakest or realest birthing scene I’d ever witnessed.
I just hope that the show isn’t pretentious enough to just have the birth for the shock and awe of an alarming opening scene. Cave-lady better come back or all of my nightmares about the snake and baby will be for nothing.
Exhibit C: Naked Running
Percentage of Helpfulness: 100%
As a rule, you cannot just casually have your characters running naked through the woods without explaining that behavior.
If this isn’t addressed by the end of this season, then I’m out.
Exhibit D: Knock-Knock Jokes
Percentage of Helpfulness: 50%
Broken pencil, who?
Never mind, it’s pointless.
Evie and John are All-Stars at complicating the story and when they had the exchange written above, I knew it was either a clue or a distraction. Evie has unexplained naked jaunts through the woods. Her personality fluctuates between assertive/sexy teen to humble and adorable daughter. Are these all pointless details?
John, her father, is a whole different sack of confusing cats. He hears crickets. He’s been to jail for attempted murder, but we don’t know who. He also feels like it is his duty to police the community for unlikable characters with 90s earrings.
I appreciate their knock knock joke. Some of the “clues” in this show are broken pencils. They are pointless and you can’t be certain if they are useful until you investigate further. The Leftovers keeps you grasping at straws, clues and broken pencils and I’m completely fine with that, as long as I see the fruits of my frustration in the end.
Other potential clues include:
-The fact that all of the books at The Murphy household are biographies. Seems odd.
-Dr. Goodheart is too extravagant of a name for him to only appear in one episode
-When does John’s son ever bring back the Tupperware? That was nice stuff
– The fact that a casual goat slaughter is last on my list says something. I’m not sure what.