“Lost” season 1. “The Office” season 2. “Community” season 2. “Breaking Bad” season 4. “Game of Thrones” season 3. There are few seasons of shows out there that we consider to be true classics, marvels of storytelling and writing, directing, and acting. Sometimes they come together by a combination of magic and timing; other times, it is the drive to create the best product possible.
With season 2 of “The Leftovers,” maybe we’re looking at a little bit of both. Those seasons above are some of our favorites of the past 10-12 years; Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta’s masterpiece is right up there with them.
What worked – It may seem counter-intuitive to say that an overly-depressing and flawed first season for the show was an advantage, but in this particular occasion we’d say that it was. Lindelof had went through a tortured period of time. The series finale of “Lost” was incredibly polarizing, but just because of his overall body of work viewers anticipated that a new product of his (on HBO, no less) would be one of the greatest of all time. It wasn’t. We feel like some of the failures of season 1 gave him a chance to be looser and create for himself rather than playing into expectations; the same could be said for Perrotta, who for season 2 had the flexibility to go beyond his own source material.
There was no way to see it coming just how good season 2 would be. We shifted from New York to Texas, but kept many elements of the first season: Some principal cast members, the score, even the polarizing Guilty Remnant. Yet, everything came together. This story played with the notion of life and death, but we’d say more so than that, it played with faith. Should you really believe in things unseen? For Kevin Garvey, it seemed like it was only when he was willing to accept death (the karaoke scene in the finale) that he started to feel alive once more. For John Murphy, it was when he realized that Kevin was telling the truth about Evie running away to join the Guilty Remnant. Faith is not an easy concept to grasp; instead, it’s easy to flee from it. Accepting it can be challenging.
There are three episodes this season we’d point to as being stronger than any episode of any other show in 2015: “No Room at the Inn,” “International Assassin,” and then the finale. Christopher Eccleston, Kevin Carroll, Justin Theroux, Ann Dowd, Carrie Coon, and Regina King should all be in discussion for an Emmy. The same goes for many of the scripts.
What didn’t – There were times this season we questioned the role of characters like Laurie and Meg, but we feel like by the end of the finale, their role in the story made sense. Laurie was survival in the face of her own darkness; meanwhile, Meg was the absence of faith. She made Miracle National Park believe she was bombing a bridge, when instead she was plotting a Guilty Remnant invasion.
What we’re getting at here is that the only things that may not have worked this season were subjective. There were no glaring flaws. Maybe you can say the ratings didn’t work for how great this show is?
Overall – “The Leftovers” season 2 was phenomenal television: Beautiful, thought-provoking, heartbreaking, and in the end a little hopeful. It is a reminder that television isn’t always meant to give you all the answers; instead, just have a little faith. Grade: A+.
You can head over here to read some other news on the future of “The Leftovers.” Also, sign up over here to get some exclusive updates on everything we cover, sent right over to you via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: HBO.)