In my lookback at LOST one year after its finale I described it as lightning in a bottle. Obviously, the show now has a very mixed perception from fans (although if you actually do some fact checking, the show as a whole and it’s “maligned” finale do have good reviews overall), but the fact remains that its unnaturally great ensemble building and its Twilight Zone-esque ability to pull the rug out from underneath its viewers made it a once in a lifetime show. Or so that’s what I thought. Now, Damon Lindelof (the main creative force behind LOST) has returned to television with The Leftovers. In its second season, The Leftovers has become more confident than ever as it takes the strengths of its predecessor while not giving a damn about the ratings or fan approval that LOST was stuck answering to.
The Leftovers picks up its second season in Jarden, Texas, the largest town in the world where no one disappeared during the Sudden Departure. It is here that Kevin (Justin Theroux), Nora (Carrie Coon) and Jill (Margaret Qualley) move and meet the Murphy’s. The night of the move, the Murphys’ daughter, Evie (Jasmin Savoy Brown), disappears, which causes a town wide crisis. While season one of this show had a format of being whatever it wanted to be at any moment, season two follows a “centric episode” format that Damon Lindelof isn’t unfamiliar with. This helps to give the show a more contained storyline, and this season has much more momentum than the previous. Despite the more contained storyline, though, The Leftovers still has more than enough time to ask and explore the existential questions that made the show so interesting in the first place. This is by far the best exploration of religion and life in television (and possibly any medium) ever.
It also helps that The Leftovers continues to have one of the best ensembles on television. Jusin Theroux continues to deliver a dramatically painful performance that no one thought the funny man had in him while Christopher Eccleston (playing the man of faith character that Damon Lindelof writes so well) and Ann Dowd (Lindelof clearly played Arkham Knight this summer and got inspiration from that video game’s portrayal of the Joker) continue to deliver knockout supporting turns. While Liv Tyler and (especially) Carrie Coon, don’t get enough screen time this season (possibly the season’s only weakness), they do make the most of it with emotional turns, and Kevin Carroll might give the best performance in the cast as he makes John Murphy’s desperate search for his daughter so brutal.
With two fantastic seasons under its belt, it’s probably time to bring the “M-word” out for The Leftovers. It’s a masterpiece of television.