The Leftovers Season 2: Not Just a Reheating of Last Season

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Leftovers HBO Dennis Russo Critical Blast

The Leftovers-The Complete Second Season on BluRay is, as you would imagine, the next steps in the HBO original series, but this is not really a “pick up where we left off and spend the first couple of episodes bringing everyone back up to speed on what happened the first season." No this different. You will really need to watch season one first to get an understanding more of the people than the story line.

The basic premise is still the same. Three (now approaching four) years ago, 140 million people in the world just vanished—departed, as it is referred to in the series--and the world is trying to find out why. What has changed and is pretty significant here is that season two starts in a completed different part of the United States, a town in Texas called Jarden, located in the middle of a Fictional National Park called Miracle, with a completely different family.

Jarden it seems is the only town with a population of over 8,000 people that did not have anyone “depart” and has become this huge tourist attraction and pilgrimage site that I would liken to Lourdes in France. To keep the peace, the Park Rangers only let people in with wrist bands as visitors unless you live there.

The townspeople, too, have been taken with the popularity of their “special place.” They've written a song about themselves, set up self-guided audio tours of the town, and taken to selling souvenirs like bottled water from the lake as if it might have some magical property that could have kept everyone/anyone from departing.

We start with our new family, the Murphy’s, whom we have much to learn about as the season progresses. (Don’t worry, our regulars will all be back.) John Murphy (Kevin Carroll) and his wife Erika (Regina King) live with their two teenaged children, Evangeline (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Michael (Jovan Adepo) in the house that will eventually be the home that Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux), his daughter Jill (Margaret Qualley), Nora Durst (Carrie Coon) and the baby that Kevin’s son Tom (Chris Zylka) was taking care of last season. It doesn’t take long for anyone to realize that John has anger issues, issues that he seems to take out on people that he feels are trying to exploit what happened (or didn’t happen) in their town--a sort of self-appointed vigilante, I suppose, that has most of the people in the town afraid of him.

The rest of the family has quirks about them that we pick up on as the season progresses, and after Kevin and his “family” move in next door.

The first couple of episodes get us acquainted with the new town and the people in it, and then builds on the storylines of the regulars from season one who have showed up in the town. This season is in some ways a departure (haha) from the first season in that even from the opening song, which went from this brooding music the first season into this sort of quaint Melanie-esque folk song, to an almost surreal-ness that reminded me very much of Lost.

As I said earlier, even though there are a lot of new and different people in this season, you really need to see last season to understand everything you will see this season. I really like the way that as one by one we see the different people from the first season show up in Jarden, we are given the back story as to why they are there--it’s not just a “surprise, we’re here!” sort of thing, and the back stories on them are really very interesting. Then, as the season plays out we see how their past and the town's present are going to collide.

This season has a lot going for it, and I liked it much better than the first. There is too much going on in this type of series to explain out every angle of every story; but suffice to say that there is a lot to keep you interested. To touch on a couple, if you were like me and you really liked Patti Levin (Ann Dowd) of the GR and were sad to see her die in the last season—well, guess what? Remember what I said about surreal?! Let’s just say that she’s back--back in a way that will lead us down a road of even more trippiness with the way Kevin Garvey has to get rid of her!

Then there is Meg Abbot (Liv Tyler), also of the GR. We not only see what she has evolved into, wanting to take the GR to an extreme edge, but also why she wants to. And then there is the town itself, with its odd earthquakes and such.

Oh, and let's not forget to mention that Laurie Garvey (Amy Brenneman) has since left the GR, started talking, is running a support group with her son Tom for GRs who left the cult, and who is writing about her experiences when she was with the GR. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, because as I mentioned earlier…things are not all that rosy over at the Murphy house.

Whew! And there is more…a lot more!

My favorite new character is that of John Murphy. He is my favorite because while you want to hate him for what he does, Kevin Carroll portrays him with such fluency and he has this dis-alarming aura about him that he makes you like him in a way that makes you feel, “Yeah, he's wrong but I can feel what he is trying to do here.”

I don’t want to give anything away, but my favorite part of the whole second season is the very end. After all that transpired thoughout the season, Kevin walks back into his house to see…well, you’re just going to have to watch. But I will tell you this, they are still no closer to discovering what happened four years ago at the end of season two than they were at season one, and I dare say we are given more things to make it even stranger.

Although I did not mention them here, the priest Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston) and his wife Mary (Janel Moloney) are in Jarden too, and it is neat as there is a miracle that happens to them while they are there. If I was to call out a couple of things that I didn’t quite care for I would say first, there was not enough of Matt Jamison--because Christopher Eccleston is such an amazing actor and portrays his role with such visual and emotional feeling that he appears the most real of all the characters. The other thing I did not care for is the same as in last season--the language here can be downright crude at times. Now I’m not a prude or anything, and if the moment calls for it I can see a word or two being used from time to time. But often when I hear some of the language spoken here I hear myself saying, “They didn’t need to use those words.” Especially when it comes to blaspheming, which is done a couple of times in the season. Now I get this HBO, and I get the feeling of anger or whatever you want to call it, but it is not necessary and, you know, just because you can say something doesn’t mean you always should.

Other than that I will say that The Leftovers really stepped it up a notch in season two, and I am looking forward now to season three more than I did at the end of one--perhaps because I feel more comfortable now with who everyone is, or perhaps it is because we are no closer to discovering what happened to the departed. In any case, if you were a fan of the first season there is little to discourage about season two.

4.0 / 5.0