HBO's "The Leftovers" moves to Miracle, Texas, in the Season 2 premiere to give both the show and its characters a fresh start. The first season of the supernatural drama rewarded viewers with the patience to stick with the slow-to-develop story, but the slow-burn approach jilted many fans. A new change of scenery allows Justin Theroux's Kevin Garvey to escape his traumatic past in New York but also gives the show itself a clean slate -- with an almost anthology-series-style plot pivot -- to turn the subtle sleeper into a hit. How would it all go down in episode 1?
Apparently, "The Leftovers" had an "everything must go sale" between Seasons 1 and 2 because just about everything is different, even the opening credits, which have been replaced with a new song and a montage of departed souls literally cut out of otherwise idyllic scenes of Texas home life.
Watch the new opening credits for "The Leftovers" below:
If the opening credits were not strange enough, viewers are then treated to a near-15-minute prologue centered around an injured Native American woman and her newborn baby's struggle to survive after a rock slide. The point of the sequence is a matter for fan debate -- the futility of survival in a harsh world? Our responsibility to protect our children and weakest links? What is clear is that the show and its writers are out to set a very different tone for Season 2.
Then, finally, fans are introduced to Miracle, Texas, a small town that did not lose a single person to the Sudden Departure. Now the town has become a point of religious pilgrimage, with buses full of people coming through every day to catch a little bit of Miracle's special mojo. However, it is not Kevin but new character John Murphy (Kevin Carroll) who carries the load in the premiere.
John is a firefighter and a realist who has doubts that Miracle is really as special a place as everyone seems to think. He does, though, seem intent on protecting his hometown. John does not just fight fires; he chooses which houses will burn. When a psychic preacher, Isaac Rayney (Darius McCrary), gives John an ominous palm reading and a warning that tragedy is lurking in his future, John gets the fire department to set Isaac's house ablaze. He also seems suspicious of the town's new Reverend, Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston), returning from Season 1.
John's wife, Erika (Regina King), is the town's doctor and one of the most important people in Miracle. The couple's son, Michael (Jovan Adepo), is deeply religious and believes the town was chosen to be spared, much to his father's chagrin. Then there's Yvette (Jasmin Savoy Brown), who goes by Evie, the Murphys' epileptic, troublemaking daughter.
The Murphys have new neighbors -- Kevin and his makeshift family of Nora (Carrie Coon), Jill (Margaret Qualley) and their new baby -- making their season debuts almost an hour into the episode. John seems to like Kevin but is suspicious all the same. He invites Kevin's clan over for his birthday barbecue and gets to know them better, revealing that he had spent over six years in prison for attempted murder. His explanation -- "I didn't try hard enough."
That night an earthquake rocks Miracle, and when it is over, John wakes up to find Evie missing. John and Michael go searching for her and find her phone in the car she left in that night. The car is abandoned next to the swimming hole Evie had been swimming in at the beginning of the episode -- where she had playfully taunted a mysterious biologist named Dr. Goodheart who was testing the water. Well, the water is gone now, dried up with only a few floundering fish left behind. Where is Evie? Is this another departure? Fans will have to wait until next week to find out.
Watch the promo for episode 2 below: