The Leftovers is back!
Yes, I’m excited. It’s not the most fun show in the world – quite the opposite, really – but I was excited to see where Season 2 would take the Garvey family, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The opening title sequence gives the tone for the season: the voids in every frame remind us of all the people who disappeared, but there’s something clearly uplifting about it all. New scenery, new life, country music playing! There’s hope at the end of the tunnel.
Or not. Because the first scene after the titles is that of a circle of dirty, naked bodies sleeping around a fire, in what appears to be a cave. It could be the countryside, it could be a flashback to prehistoric times or a flash-forward to a post-apocalyptic future. At this point, no one can make an accurate guess as to what’s going on in this show.
One of the sleeping women is pregnant, obviously close to giving birth. She wakes up, goes outside to relieve herself while staring up at a glowing full moon, as an eagle flies over it. An earthquake hits, the ground shakes and the rest of her group vanishes under a landslide. Her water breaks, she gives birth to her baby.
Who else thought this would be the end of this admittedly haunting sequence?
Well, it wasn’t. We see the woman nurse her baby, scavenge for food (by raiding birds’ nests and swallowing the eggs, shells and all), but as she’s up in the tree having her snack, a large snake is crawling over her child. She manically attacks the snake and kills it, but not before it has a chance to bite her forearm.
Weakened by the venom coursing through her bloodstream, her arm obviously infected, she lies on a rock surface, cradling her baby, walks through a stream, tumbles onto the pebbly shore. The eagle flies overhead. As she leaves her dying breath, her baby still crying in her arms, a woman approaches and picks up the child. Symbolic, considering how Nora ended up with a new daughter last season, but I can’t help but wonder about whatever further significance this might have for the story.
Is it just me, or does the woman look very much like Laurie Garvey?
As the camera pans out, away from the newly deceased cave woman, we are transported to what I assume is present time. A group of three girls are jumping off the rocks into the water, a man is hip-high in the water taking samples. As the girls get dressed, we see signs prohibiting “removal of water”, as well as use of the premises by visitors. Only residents are allowed in.
The girls return home, we follow one of them inside (Yvie, the one who was sort of flirting with the sample guy) and it looks like normal life. Aside from the test tubes in the kitchen, the meds the girl is required to take, and the fact that she gulps it down with water she brought back from the stream, that is.
As Michael, the son of the family takes a bike ride into town, we see there’s something off about it. Particularly the bearded hobo on top of a tower-like monument with the word “Miracle” vertically scrawled across. Michael approaches the structure, the hobo lowers a bucket, and the son places an egg & bacon breakfast in the bucket for the hobo to enjoy. In exchange for taking care of a letter adressed to some guy in Australia, for whatever reason.
18′ in, I’m not exactly loving the Season 2 premiere.
There are street vendors everywhere, and one of the items on display is a souvenir t-shirt for the town of Jarden, Texas, boasting zero departures on October 14th.
Michael sets up his own bench, which features water vials, a cross, and flyers for the Baptist church service down the street. Presumably the water is holy? Nope, just spring water. But it must have magical powers, if no one from the town disappeared, right? Again, no. It’s just a souvenir.
Then we realize that the benches set up are there to accommodate the busfulls of tourists arriving, seemingly departing on his pilgrimage from every corner of the world.
Meanwhile, John, the dad of the family, visits Isaac, a guy who does… what? Well, he intends on renting out the top part of his house, and John reminds him of the fire safety code calling for separate entrances and stairways. So he’s a fireman. Okay. Isaac promises to get it done soon. We see an array of colorful palm prints on the wall. Adult palm prints. What the hell? Apparently the guy reads palms, but they need to be coated in paint in order to do it. There’s the bizarro-world of the Leftovers we all know and love!
Isaac even has a lightbox to help him read the palm prints (like he would x-rays). Is he the real deal? Doubtful, but he can tell John has a birthday coming up. Then again, they’ve been friends since they were kids, so it’s not like he had to have superpowers to glean that little tidbit. He sees something ominous, and John confronts him about being a scam artist. “All of this is bullshit, right?”
But Isaac won’t admit to it. What I do is real, he says. John is adequately spooked and leaves.
Next we see Yvie at the the school choir practice, and she has quite the singing voice. Cut to: Yvie and her friends running naked through the woods. Then, cut to Yvie and John playing catch in the back yard. She tells a knock knock joke. They laugh.
In the evening, John and his buddies go to work at the fire station. He seems intent on uncovering his old friend Isaac’ lies regarding his magic palm readings. He barges in to Isaac’s house, sets his palm print on fire; Isaac refuses to leave, so he get thrown through a window. He is dragged across the lawn as his house goes up in flames and the firemen sit and watch.
Erika, the wife, works at the hospital where Isaac is brought in for first aid. She’s quite matter of fact about her husband’s act of arson. You should have seen it coming, she tells Isaac. You know, with his magic powers and all. He says something vague and ominous again, this time spooking the wife.
Next morning, Erika outs on hearing aids, goes out for a run, jogs past Isaac’s burnt down house. She reaches a spot in the woods, kneels, digs a bit with a trowel, unearths a box. She opens the box and a small bird is inside. (wtf?) The bird flies away.
35′ in, it’s adequately bizarre for the second season of The Leftovers.
When she comes home, John is trying to find whatever it is that makes noise in his house. I can’t tell if it’s a mouse or a cricket, but I assume it’s going to be something much weirder, because, hello, it’s The Leftovers we’re talking about. They go to church, and of course the sermon is all about how the town didn’t mourn any departures on 14/10. The reverend announces that he’s going to have surgery in Austin. In the meantime, his friend will fill in for him at the church.
The friend in question is none other than our favorite Mapleton reverend, Matt!
Apparently he moved to Jarden a month before. He begins to tell his story, but is interrupted by his reverend friend. John is interested in the story though. He asks Matt when the service is over, but Matt gives him the short version of how happy he is to be there.
John and the rest of the family have breakfast and discuss the bible quotes they talked about in church, in a cringe-worthy piece of dialogue (well, cringe-worthy to anyone from Greece, anyway):
– What is a Thessalonian?
– Someone from Thessalonia.
– That’s in Arkansas, right?
So many facepalms, even if that bit about Arkansas was meant as a joke. Moving on.
Actually I wish we hadn’t moved on. Because in walks some guy named Jerry with a goat, and slashes the poor animal’s throat, but not before he spreads some nylon sheeting on the hardwood floor, because animal abusers are considerate that way.
WHAT. THE. FUCK.
He drags the dead animal outside, leaving a massive bloodstain behind. No one is disturbed by this. The waitress yells for Enrique, presumably to clean up the mess. Aside from that, this looks like an everyday occurance in this strange little town.
Last season it was men shooting dogs. Now it’s men killing goats. Jesus.
Back at the house, Erika is talking to her daughter in sign language as John watches some obscure celebrity gossip story on tv, eating dinner. He leaves his bowl in the sink, but the spoon goes down the garbage disposal. As his hand goes in, digging for the spoon, I fully expect the mechanism to roar to life and chew his hand to pieces, but thankfully we’re saved the gory scene. Michael comes up behind him, reaches in, gets the spoon out, and prepares a packed meal to take to the hobo. Other people feed him too, apparently, but he likes Erika’s cooking.
(If the hobo is up there all the time and won’t come down for food, does he come down to use the bathroom? It doesn’t look like that landmark includes such facilities).
On the way home, he rides his bike past a police bust. The cops are being dicks, but this doesn’t seem to faze Michael more than the goat-killing did that morning.
But Michael wasn’t going home; he was going to an old man’s house to pray. Okay then.
The next morning, John finds a gift on his front porch: a pie covered in red gingham cloth. He sees a U-haul pull in next door, and it’s the Garvey family! Hallelujah!
Erika and John are puzzled by the pie, decide to invite the Garvey’s for dinner, and then John drops by to give Nora the pie as a welcome gesture and invite them to the barbecue.
The two families bond somewhat awkwardly at first, what with Nora being no one’s parent and the baby (Lily!) clearly being neither adult’s child, not to mention the fact that Michael bakes while Erika mans the grill. Oh, and Michael doesn’t drink. They tell stories but soon reach a conversation stopper: John was in prison for six years for attempted murder. The awkwardness doesn’t last too long though, because it’s time for cake! And then Yvie spaces out for a few seconds and drops the cake. She’s epileptic, and keeps forgetting to take her meds. So then the pills she took at breakfast the other day had nothing to do with the spring water or the lack of departures in this town. Okay.
Cake ruined, Kevin runs back to his house to get the pie. Apparently nothing about the pie was dodgy, because the Garveys go home in the next scene as Yvie gives her dad his birthday present and heads off with her friends.
During the night, a big earthquake occurs. Earthquakes aren’t too rare in this part of the world, apparently, as evidenced throughout the episode. That’s not the big problem though: the problem is, it’s three in the morning, and Yvie is missing. So is her friend Violet.
John and Michael drive out to the stream to look for the girls. They find the car, music blaring, doors locked, her phone still in the car.
And the water is gone.
So what happened to the girls? Is this the first case of disappearances in this town? Did the Garveys bring the curse along with them? What was the meaning of the opening scene with the cave woman aside from the obvious parallel to Nora?
Hopefully we’ll get some answers as the season progresses. So far, I’m not too impressed, but the show has a way of moving slowly but deliberately towards an exciting climax, so I’m not writing it off just yet.
Tell next week!