'The Leftovers' Reinvention
Without a doubt, The Leftovers is my favorite thing on television right now. Hauntingly beautiful and oppressively bleak, Helmed by Damon Lindleof, with whom I have a love/hate relationship, The Leftovers is based on the Tom Perrotta novel of the same name which follows the ramifications of the human population following a mass "departure". This event caused two percent of the population to disappear spontaneously, and a massive psychological toll on the remnants on Earth.
Lindelof has proven that he can craft an excellent mystery (Lost) but he occasionally struggles at sticking the landing with his high concept ideas. The Leftovers novel only covers the first season, so everything from the new season on is completely original material. The biggest issue with Lost was that it posed so many questions that there was almost no way to satisfactorily answer them. The Leftovers has its fair share of questions, yet I find myself less transfixed on the past and completely invested in the journey of the characters (primarily, the Garvey family). Lindelof has been on record saying he isn't interested in explaining the mechanism behind the departure. He has spun such an intriguing world, one in which every person is severely damaged, some beyond fixing, and the continuation of life is the biggest struggle.
Season 1 was primarily centralized in the town of Mapleton, dealing with departure's effect on the Garvey family and the mysterious Guilty Remnant. An absolutely fascinating take on nihilism, the Guilty Remnant is a cult that consists of people who don't speak, constantly chain smoke, and try to recruit especially broken survivors into their ranks. As a viewer, it's been incredibly difficult for me to empathize at all with this cause, but given the gravity of the situation that world has faced, it does provide interesting questions. Are all the members scarred from the Departure, or does the Guilty Remnant merely provide an escape from pre-existing problems? There have been plenty of critics complaining about season 1's relentless dour mood and lack of hope. The Leftovers is certainly a brutal emotional experience, and it is not a happy experience. However, it's a gorgeous show with fantastic performances. Also, the score of the show (by Max Richter) is one of the most memorable in memory, providing key audio cues that really add another layer of intricacy into the depth of the show.
The second season has almost been a completely different show. The Garveys have no found hope in the shape of Miracle, Texas, a city where no Departures occurred. The jarring shift in setting allows for new characters such as the Murphys, a family in Miracle with a host of their own mysteries that the new season will hopefully delve into. So far each of the first three episodes of season 2 have dealt with a different perspective of characters, which is a refreshing change of pace from season 1. Even the opening credits have been completely revamped to a joyous rendition of Iris DeMent's "Let The Mystery Be" which is a complete 180 from the Biblically themed season 1 opening. Like the Garveys, I have no idea where I'm going, but the ride has me hooked.