The Horror Honeys: The Leftovers S.2 Premiere ~ Not Quite the Jarden of Eden

The Leftovers S.2 Premiere ~ Not Quite the Jarden of Eden

A Premiere Review by Revenge Honey Linnie

The Leftovers (2014 - )

S2, E1 - "Axis Mundi"

As an avid fan of season one of HBO's The Leftovers, I've been anxiously awaiting the season two premiere. Created by Lost's Damon Lindelof and based on a novel by Tom Perrotta, the series is set in a world where 140 million people just disappeared from the Earth without so much as a trace. Was it a religious experience? Was it something extraterrestrial? Or was it one of those "well, these things happen" situations? All anyone knows is that the people left behind, "the leftovers," are the ones who must pick of the pieces of lives shattered by the loss of husbands, and wives, children, brothers, sisters, and friends.

Season One was set in Mapleton, New York, where a cult, called The Guilty Remnant, dressed all in white and BIG fans of smoking, seemed intent on not letting people forget about the departed. We followed a collection of survivors and spent a season becoming slowly attached to them, watching as their lives moved forward, but bubbling tension just below the surface implied that things were about to get bad.

And get bad they did. Yet, the Season Two premiere starts fresh, entirely different, and while tonally a huge switch from Season One, was absolutely everything I could have hoped for.

Season Two opens with a new title sequence, a folksy new theme song, and an entirely new location. But before we get there, we are treated to a Kubrick-esque jump back in time, where we follow a lone tribal woman as she tries to protect her new-born baby against impossible odds. The scene is beautiful, brutal, and sets the tone for what is sure to be a far more, dare I say, Lindelof-ian season than the first. Fast forward who knows how long to Jarden, Texas, now called Miracle, a town that didn't experience a single departure. People flock to Jarden as if it is a religious site, looking for a miracle of their own. But is Jarden all that is seems?

The answer is obviously "no," which we discover right away. We meet a family (which includes recent Emmy winner, Regina King) that all seem to be hiding some major secrets. We meet a finger-painting psychic played by Darius McCrary (Eddie Winslow for the win!). And we find out that Cousin Larry from Perfect Strangers faked his departure, which isn't necessarily relevant to the plot but I found it hilarious. The Garveys (Justin Theroux, Carrie Coon, Margaret Qualley, and their new baby) don't even arrive until almost the end of the first episode, giving us plenty of time to learn about the residents of "Miracle" and decide that we don't trust them entirely.

Even as familiar characters from Season One filter in, the tension only amplifies; it doesn't alleviate. As usual, the script by Jacqueline Hoyt and Lindelof crackles with impending doom and the implication that nothing is what it seems. Director Mimi Leder (Deep Impact, The Peacemaker) knows how to coax and encourage the best from all her actors, leading to a finale that will leave you clamoring for the next episode and cursing the fact that you can't binge watch this one.

Possible Trigger Warning: The Leftovers doesn't shy away from much, including animal death. I initially refused to watch season one because of the way dog murder factored in, and in fact closed my eyes several times. Season Two features a grisly, though clearly fake, goat death in a diner. A man will walk in with a goat on a leash. He lays down a tarp. This is your warning to look away if you are bothered by animal death.

The Leftovers isn't full of action and chaos, and it's isn't loud or showy. But if you like your dramas with a touch of sci-fi, a ton of tension, and brilliant performances, tune in for The Leftovers. You won't be disappointed. 

The Leftovers airs on HBO, Sundays at 9pm. You can watch new episodes and Season One on HBOGo or HBONow!

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