I wasn’t sure about making another season of The Leftovers. After season one ended I was satisfied. Damon Lindelof had successfully torn me from the wretched clutches of his last befuddling series Lost and made me believe in him once again. The acting was outstanding, the writing was phenomenal and the ending wrapped everything up in just a way where I was content but there were still questions I had – much like a great television series should do. It was a bittersweet – the science-fiction nerd in me was yearning for an answer to the departure but my smarter, inner-cinephile knew that this is how great stories were ended.
Then Season Two previews started to air and I was skeptically optimistic. The first season hadn’t had a huge audience, but I had spent my share of time marketing it to my friends as “the best show that nobody’s watching.”
After the first three episodes of season two — which have slightly lower viewing ratings than the first season (in part because of Game of Thrones coverage) – The Leftovers is not only the best show that nobody’s watching, it’s the best show out of anything currently in-season.
Never have I seen a show that consistently impresses me on a deeper level every episode into the series.
The Leftovers season two introduces the Murphys – a small family very similar to the pre-departure Garveys – in Miracle, Texas: A town that is under federal control with national park status for supposedly having no departures. Whenever a series tries to branch out into new settings and characters it’s usually on account of a stagnant storyline. Though, here, the acting, the story and the plotlines are as fresh as ever. Kevin Carroll (John Murphy) slides into the unsettling tone of The Leftovers as if he was always in the universe waiting for us to come to him and the town of Miracle continues the tone of The Leftovers that is somehow unsettling in a way you can’t quite capture why.
“Off Ramp,” the third episode this season, moves away Miracle and our main characters to revisit some ghosts from seasons past with ex-wife and ex-cult follower Laurie Garvey (Amy Brenneman) and son and ex-cult (different cult) follower Tom Garvey (Chris Zylka). Again, as I read the synopsis of this episode before viewing I was nervous if someone other than Justin Theroux can carry entire episodes. Last year they did have a point-of-view episode completely from Preacher Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston) that completely worked but this is always risky.
Though, Lindelof once again proved that he is not the Lost writer that I once knew. Not only was the writing outstanding but Amy Brenneman and Chris Zylka put on an acting clinic – hopefully the academy was watching this one closely as Carrie Coon (who plays Nora Durst) got snubbed last year.
“Off Ramp” follows Laurie, who has now escaped from The Guilty Remnant Cult, on her crusade to free others from the cult, using her son as bait. It takes a bit of a step back in time as some of the story-lines from episode one from Laurie’s point of view. She is a completely new person in this season – she’s reformed, she’s trying to connect with her family again and she’s a complete badass (in the best way possible).
Tom Garvey hasn’t changed as drastically, though Zylka has to throw a much wider arrange of emotions than he did in season one which culminates in one an awe-inducing and unexpected final scene that is shot wonderfully.
While The Leftovers dreary tone may be too much for some people, with “Off Ramp,” this series quietly continues to have some of the best acting and writing on television right now.
"Off Ramp" has some of the best acting on television and the story continues to impress
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