"The Leftovers" premiere episode sets up the tragedy and mystery of the sudden disappearance of 2 percent of the world's population but don't expect too many answers just yet. Here are some of the best, and most shocking, moments from the pilot episode of HBO's new series.
The first episode takes place three years after the mysterious event in the town of Mapleton. Life has mostly returned to normal but there is an undercurrent of violence in every scene and the episode is incredibly tense. In some ways people have become meaner, or more fearful, as there are no answers, only more questions, surrounding the sudden disappearance of 140 million people.
While there are some attempts to rationalize the Sudden Departure, by proclaiming it the Rapture or arguing for its statistical insignificance, the disappearance has greatly affected the fictionalized New York suburb. The simmering tension reaches a boiling point during the first Heroes Day when residents clash with the mysterious Guilty Remnant.
Throughout out the episode we get glimpses of humanity which has lost control and it appears as though conflict is on the horizon. While the mute Guilty Remnant, the mysterious group clad all in white and constantly smoking with the motto "We smoke to proclaim our faith," are the most obvious "antagonists," the group acts passively although the way they stalk certain people is questionable, Warren is another person that could undermine stability in Mapleton and bring the residents back to a more primal state.
Who's Who In The Town Of Mapleton
As a new series, "The Leftovers" pilot has no easy task to lay out the central mysterious, underlying conflict and a host of new characters. Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) is the Mapleton chief of police and while there are repeated mentions of his wife who is no longer around, it is only revealed Laurie (Amy Brenneman) has joined the Guilty Remnant. Garvey has a lot of guilt stemming from Oct. 14, the day of the Sudden Departure, and it looks like he went crazy shortly after the event. Garvey is a flawed character who is trying but has yet to truly recover. Garvey's son, Tom, is at the side of Warren while Jill is a typical, rebellious teen and goes to parties with her best friend, Aimee, and has a crush on Nick.
Meg (Liv Tyler) joins the Guilty Remnant at the end of the pilot while Reverend Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston) makes a brief appearance at the Heroes Day parade. Nora Durst lost her entire family in the Sudden Departure and Patti is the leader of the Guilty Remnant and speaks, for the first and only time, to Meg as she welcomes her to the group. Mayor Lucy Warburton does not like Garvey but the chief of police was correct when it came to the violent clash between the Mapleton residents and the Guilty Remnant.
While we did not see much of Dean, the owner of the pickup truck who shot and killed Dudley in the beginning of the episode, it appears he is an ally to Garvey.
At The Heart Of The Sudden Departure
As to what caused, the Sudden Departure, no one is sure, not even a commission congressional panel. "The Leftovers" will take its time to reveal any aspects as to what was behind the disappearance of 140 million people but will focus on the way lives have unraveled, the choices made by the remaining residents of Mapleton, the Departure's affect on the community and the underlying tension caused by grief, fear, paranoia and anger.
There are plenty of jarring moments in "The Leftovers" pilot, the Departure is handled succinctly in the prologue, such as Dudley's death in the beginning of the episode, the flashback of a naked Garvey being chased, a deer that suddenly disappears and the final scene where Garvey and Dean shoot the wild pack of dogs.These moments were effective as the show was able to build tension to a climatic point which lead to even more questions. "The Leftovers" has a great cast, Theroux is great as Garvey and will be interesting to see him serve as the central point of the events in Mapleton.
There are moments where you wish for a break from the tension, the quick news report which showed Gary Busey as among those lost in the Departure is a perfect example, but the pilot serves its purpose quite well. "The Leftovers" is intriguing and analyzes a massive mystery through the lens of a small town. As for what the Sudden Departure was or if Mapleton will implode, that remains to be seen.
"The Leftovers" or "Lost"
The biggest concern may be the lack of resolution or the shift away from the Departure. Damon Lindelof was the co-creator of "Lost" and fans have not forgotten how the show became lost or the controversial series finale. "Lost" was not the first show to be trapped by its lofty premise and it will not be the last.
"The Leftovers" pilot is encouraging as it introduces, and repeats several themes that could serve to anchor the series. The HBO series is also based on the book of the same name by Tom Perrotta, so there is an established plot and structure from which Lindelof can base his adaptation of "The Leftovers."
For its first episode, "The Leftovers" quickly became an intriguing hour of television and I'm excited to see where the show, and characters, go from here. There are some slight reservations, the depressing tone and tension of the story may become a bit repetitive, but, so far, "The Leftovers" will easily fill a Sunday night void.