Brilliantly rich in symbols’ and complexities, poignantly human and deeply disturbing in a variety of manners – The Leftovers truly went artistically bonkers in the second season. It’s a tryumph of the golden age of television in every aspect.
The second season starts off some time after the end of the first. The Garveys moved out from Mapleton, leaving the darkness behind them to find happiness in a wondrous city of Miracle, Texas. It’s the only place where the sudden departures never happened, for that reason being a place of pilgrimages and a dream-like destination to live. Unfortunately, sooner than later, the truth about some of the city’s citizens unfolds, putting the others’ faith to a test.
Without slightest doubt, The Leftovers remained one of the most intelectually demanding TV series to my knowledge, reaching a whole new level in the second season. If the first season revolved around the nagging question regarding the not-departed ones – “why not us?”, the second season feels like an after-fire site – there is a bleak feeling of acceptance of the soul-crushing departure, but underneath it lies a penetrating fear of what to do next. The battle ashes are slowly dancing on the wind and those, who survived the calamitous events, seek for anything to hold onto. The Garveys try to start over, coglomerating an artificial family-like body out of Kevin, Nora, Jill and Lilly and moving to a cult city of Miracle. Yet, there’s hardly anything but deepening crisis of faith and humanity that awaits there.
What I found interesting, season 2 detached itself from the main plot elements known in the opening season – the white-shirted smokers from Guilty Remnants became the background, whilst the creators put their focus on new characters that they’ve introduced, using them as catalysts for Garveys’ arch. The new addition – Murphys, religious family, that became nieghbors of Garveys in the beginning of the season, keep their own shadowy secrets, which with each episode become more disturbing.
Whilst the story remains compelling, it wouldn’t play the right tune if not for the acting – Kevin Carroll as John Murphy is a mezmerizing addition to the cast, as well as a bunch of other new characters (Regina King as John’s wife to mention one). Liv Tyler was given a whole new angle regarding her character too, which became grounds for one of the best female performances of the year and in line with her stands surprisingly convincing Chris Zylka – the only weak point from the first season. Notwithstanding all those bright performances, there was someone else, who stole the show.
Because what really made this season such a spectacular experience was the story of Kevin. Relegated from chief officer in the police forces, he’s lost, without a smoke screen to hide his fear. Fascinatingly portrayed by Justin Theroux, Garvey is a symbol of humanity reborn, which constitutes a coherent and genius link to the prologue of the first episode with a cavewoman protecting her child. His many deaths, fueled by the haunt of Patti (jaw-dropping performance by Ann Dowd), which eventually ends up in Garvey’s numerous ressurections, was the definite high point for the season. Paired up with exquisite soundtrack by Max Richter, this whole story of Kevin is a spur to appreciate the values that we like to forget about – may it sound cliche, but does it hit you hard.
Finally, kudos for Max Richter are more than a necessity. The soundtrack of The Leftovers is pure beauty, gently playing on the emotions of the audience with gratifying fluidity. And whilst some may claim that it vastly feels as varations around the score in season 1, wait until the episode 8. Most likely, nothing will touch this gem during this year in television.
The second season of The Leftovers is undoubtedly one of the very few series, which episode by episode, sustain the tendency to become better. Despite how haunting and bleak the vision of the humanity may sometimes divulge from this season, the delivery of it is flawless. And the message behind it is soul-stirring too – judging by the twisted in-and-out journeys of Kevin Garvey and contrary to what John Murphy claims throughout the season – maybe there are miracles possible to happen – and not necessarily in Miracle?