On Easter Sunday, one of the holiest days of the year, HBO aired the third and final season of The Leftovers. From the mind of Lost creator Damon Lindelof and based on the book by Tom Perrotta, the leftovers is either a modern day retelling of the rapture or a show where all the main characters experience psychological breakdowns and go completely insane!
As a lover of religious fiction, I grew up reading authors like Dan Brown, Tim Lahaye and was susceptible to conspiracy theories. In my twenties, I grew out of that phase but I still enjoy picking out the religious and political undertones in a well put together story.
That’s where The Leftovers shines, it leaves most of the rest of the world out. There’s no big conspiracy, no politics, no big terrestrial stakes for the characters. Probably because the biggest thing already happened. It’s all cosmic! It’s metaphysical. It transcends reality as we know it.
The concept is simple enough, how would individuals deal with the disappearance of 2% of the world’s population? Will we be OK? What if one lost someone? What if they lost everyone? Will we know what happened? Will we ever figure it out? Will we even call it the rapture?
From those basic questions comes the foundation that The Leftovers mythology rests upon:
- Cults will increase
- Normalcy is broken
- Animals will go insane
- People will be overcome by grief and will have to learn to cope in various ways
That’s not even including the scenes that are so choke-full religious mythology that you won’t know what to believe. It’s Lost x10, where you could actually have a genuine religious experience watching it. Instead of being disappointed and frustrated with the plot, you know right from the first episode, that this show isn’t a cookie cutter. There are no straight paths down the rabbit hole here.
Now, only the first season is based on the book. That’s where it leaves off. It’s hard to get people to watch it; even explaining it to them is a chore. If you tell your friends it’s about the rapture, you’ll likely get this response. “Oh I don’t want to watch a religious preachy show.”
You have to be in a particular mindset and have the intellectual curiosity to stomach this sort of thing. It’s not an easy story made for the reality TV crowd. You have to be looking for it. Yearning for it. Prepared for the misery that you are about to experience. The second season is tailored made for the age of Peak TV. While many first time watchers might have a hard time with the depressing nature of the first season. The second season brings us to the more upbeat town of Jarden Texas where nobody disappeared. It has since been turned into Miracle National Park. See what I mean about the religious mythology?
The town itself is riddled with mysteries and millions of pilgrims attempt to get in the doors just to experience the place, but the good news stops there as life across the bridge is still just as affected by the disappearance as the rest of the world.
From Justin Theroux’s Kevin Garvey’s cosmic battle with Ann Dowd’s Patti to my favorite Doctor Who, Christopher Eccleston’s Matt Jamison’s struggle to keep his faith in Jesus during this troubling time that seems like the end of days, Miracle seems like a God-send to these very troubled characters. But is it?
In season 3 all signs point to Australia but where that leads the characters is anybody’s guess at this point. The real issue with the show, is that it has yet to win an Emmy.