I loved the first season of THE LEFTOVERS, the HBO series about life three years after 2% of the world’s population disappears in a mysterious Rapture-like event. In my view an example of where the adaptation is better than the book, it perfectly captures loss and the madness humans might experience when confronted with a universal miracle that cannot be explained.
I waited for Season 2 to come to Google Play, but it never did. I ended up scanning the Season 2 summaries online and instead watched Season 3 when it came out. I felt Season 3 was a great wrap to the series but relied too heavily on LOST-like elements. The show was supposed to reveal how people try to find meaning in the inexplicable (and ultimately meaningless), but the inexplicable stuff kept coming and suggested a larger plan or rationale that in turn is never revealed. In that, I thought the show was trying to have it both ways, which messed with my enjoyment.
Somebody said I really, really needed to watch Season 2, and I ended up getting the DVDs from Amazon. HOLY CRAP.
It was amazing.
In Season 2, Kevin Garvey and Nora Durst decide on a change of scenery by moving to Miracle, a national park in Texas, where the town of Jarden boasts it is the only town where nobody disappeared during the Sudden Departure. Kevin wants to go because he wants to escape his life. Nora wants to go because she’s afraid another Sudden Departure event might occur, and she’s looking for a place where she can feel safe. They luck out and buy a house in the town, access to which is kept carefully controlled. Tourists, pilgrims, and crazies flock to Jarden every year, and one man in town, a fireman named John, takes vigilante action to ensure no cults or craziness take root in the place where he lives. When John’s daughter and her two friends disappear, we’re left to wonder whether they “departed” and whether Kevin had something to do with it.
The result is flawless drama. I immediately found John and his family intriguing characters, and their interaction with the Garveys moves the story forward. The season revived the same big themes of season 1 while enriching them. John in particular is fascinating, alternately somebody you want to have a beer with and then somebody you’d want to move to another town to get away from–the way he smiles and stares right through you, and his willingness to do anything to prevent the world’s madness from infecting his home, though it already has. The finale is amazingly gripping, as powerful as the finale from the first season.
So yeah, I loved it. Great characters, perfect drama, powerful themes of an inexplicable event forcing humanity into a manic search for meaning, the world slowly losing its mind over it. I’ll have to rewatch Season 3 now and see if I engage with it differently. Anyway, great show, unlike anything else I’ve seen on TV. Highly recommended.