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THE LEFTOVERS: Theories and Thoughts on Season One

By Jef Dinsmore on Sep 19, 2014 to The Leftovers


Perrotta, Tyler, Theroux, Brenneman, Lindelof

Is it too late to have some LEFTOVERS? This writer, for one, feels that THE LEFTOVERS ended on quite solid ground forming a climactic ending that griped viewers and left them with some ray of hope. We started the season confused and a bit frustrated but along the way some rich character developments surfaced and some windows into the psyche of the show cracked open. No, not all was solved, but for me enough was revealed to keep me interested. To assist in sorting through it is the site WatchingThe

We start with a few points of the list of “10 Things Learned” about the show.

  • 2% is a lot of people – 140 million. So I guess Mapleton had its share.

  •  The Guilty Remnant is one tough organization. Think about it. They sneak into homes for weeks to strip away any remembrances of the past (photos) and condition people to forget and then slam them with tKevinGarvey_bodhe Loved One replicas for a devastating conclusion.

  •  Unspeakable grief does not mean you can’t have a hot bod. Clearly just a humorous point here, but surely there were those that marveled at Kevin Garvey’s build.

  • God is everywhere and nowhere. Threads of religious thought are throughout. Some hold faith while others feel totally abandoned. The Bible’s Book of Job, referenced in the show, resonate that theme. Many feel that alienation here and it is interesting to see it manifest in odd and peculiar ways.

  • Everyone is a skeptic. Any set of beliefs previously held are now in question after the Sudden Departure. That alone must set everyone on edge and grows into paranoia, fear and steadfast resolve. People are not the same and motives are not clear, as we see in clear evidence, making the situation unstable.

  • Be grateful for who you have while they’re still here. That couldn’t be a truer statement, but not having observed that fact and making up for it is a lot more interesting to watch. The Garvey family is case in point.



In this next segment I share the thoughts of director Mimi Leder as she talks about the season’s final episode The Prodigal Son Returns. Fans just might appreciate these insights. She offers us her perspective on seven crucial moments of the season finale.People_MimiLeder

  1. The Cold Open (scene before the opening credits) -“Damon selected that piece of music, which was a stroke of genius. Nina Simone is saying: ‘Don’t leave me.’ It’s a very sad and beautiful song about abandonment. I designed the sequence. I wanted the shot to start on the shard of glass, and have Kevin see his reflection in a pool of blood. Then I chose to do a corkscrew shot from Patti’s face into this high angle. I could have done a straight pull-up, but I felt that the corkscrew was more evocative – as a way to unwind this crazy journey which took all these twists and turns.” 

  2. The Eulogy (burial of Patti) – “This scene was very difficult. Even playing dead, Ann Dowd was mesmerizing to watch. The burying of her character was very emotional for all of us. Everyone was moved by Justin’s reading of the passage. He jumped into the deep end without flinching. He was sublime.”

  3. The Baptism (cleaning up after burial) – “I told the actors, ‘This is a baptism.’ I told Chris Eccleston, ‘You are, in your mind, doing the baptism without any words’ and I told Justin, ‘You are cleansing this past off of you.’ It’s a renewal. We worked very hard to position him in the light so the water would trickle off his body, and the blood would drip off his arms.”

  4. The Discovery (Nora seeing the Loved Ones) – “The discovery of those Loved Ones was the most horrific and frightening thing to shoot and Carrie Coon went to the inner depths of her soul to let out that howl, which actually, you can’t hear, but you can feel to your toes. When we come back to her, we see her sitting there with her Loved Ones in a beautiful tableau of the nuclear family. I asked her to hold their hands, as she would with her children, and caress them. It was very powerful.”

  5. The Wish (From Holy Wayne to Kevin) – “Paterson Joseph, who plays Holy Wayne, is a brilliant actor. He kept telling me, ‘I don’t die very well.’ And I kept saying, ‘I think you can do it well!’ It was beautiful. I thought it was a real chance for his character to expose his biggest fears: Am I real or am I a fraud? Our approach to that scene was to tell the truth and to be as simple as possible. Justin had just come through many scenes of crying. This was a different layer of going to the next level. Here he is, meeting a man who – although Kevin has no idea – has had so much influence on his son’s life. And then Wayne dies and Kevin is literally looking into a dead man’s eyes, wondering, ‘What the hell just happened?”

  6. The Riot (in the streets of Mapleton) – “The Leftovers is not an action show, so to go all out and play action music just didn’t feel right in the context of the story. The incredible, mesmerizing Max Richter music really helped define that sequence and the emotion of it. Kevin, at this point, has come through quite a journey to discover that Mapleton is not the Leftovers_LaurieatEndtown he left. His family is his only connection to his past life. He wanted to leave them, and now he desperately wants to save them.” 

  7. The Meeting (Laurie and her son Tom) – “I had the idea that this scene was set in Memorial Park, where it all began. Laurie looks up at that statue, at that baby – and now we know that there was a baby inside of her the day of the Departure. In the aftermath of the burning down of the cul-de-sac, Laurie walks away from Kevin and Jill. She is completely disillusioned by the last eight months of her life. Was the G.R. a sham? Everything that she was holding onto is now in ash. I found this little jetty off of the park. I wanted Laurie to walk and look into the ocean, and really see the depths of her life. I said to Chris Zylka, who plays Tommy, ‘You’ve given up the baby, and perhaps this is a place where your mom used to take you.’ It’s by chance that he went there, but the actors and I felt it was a place where they had been many times before. This was ‘their place.’”



As for quick musings over Season Two we have many questions:

Will the Garvey’s all live under one roof?

Where does Nora fit into that dynamic?

What of Kevin’s dual personalities?   

Now that the Guity Remnant is in disarray will it continue and where will it rebuild?

Will they ever find out about Patti’s death?Leftovers_GarveyConfused

Will Dean ever come forward with what he knows?

Does any of this deter Rev. Jamison from his cause?

Was Kevin’s wish granted by Holy Wayne?

Was Holy Wayne real or a fraud?

Will we hear if his offspring ever are ‘chosen ones’?

What’s with all those animals again?

This just scratches the surface, but may spark theories to surface right here on HBOWatch

All these questions will be mulled over until Season two arrives in 2015. Until then, like reaching into the fridge for a morsel of last night’s meal, we can nibble on speculation until then and check in with HBOWatch as well as


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    Lindelof has a hard on for stories related to catholicism, catharism, jacobinism, purgatory and other themes like the subconscious. He obviously likes David Lynch as well, he even has his mystery man – or our shadow self.

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