The Leftovers is HBO’s brand new drama series based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Tom Perrotta. The series premiere was delayed two weeks for production difficulties but the pilot finally aired on June 29th 2014. The ratings for the new drama were mixed as 1.8 million people tuned in to watch the premiere, but that lost 42% of its lead in True Blood. The Pilot episode was written by Perotta and Damon Lindelof (Lost) and directed by Peter Berg (The Kingdom, Lone Survivor). Ever since the first trailer for the series was released by HBO, fans of the novel could tell there would be major changes from the original source material. The resulting Pilot episode seems to be a highlight reel of many of the novel’s best notes and the expansion of a story that otherwise could not fill more than a single season of television.
The premise for the series is that three years previous, on October 14 a “Rapture-Like” Event occurred leading to the Sudden Disappearance of 2% of the world’s population. This is not the event fundamentalist Christians were waiting for. The people who disappeared seem to have vanished with no specific pattern or reasoning. The Disappeared were from every country on Earth, of all races, all religions, all temperaments, all criminal histories. The resultant world finds itself struggling to find out what happened, where they went and will they return.
Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) is the Police Chief of Mapleton, the small town at the center of the series. He is a struggling single father of two: Jill (Margaret Qualley) who is in high school and still lives at home with him and Tom (Chris Zylka) a recent college dropout who has become the disciple of a guru named Wayne (Paterson Joseph). Kevin finds himself at odds with Mayor Warburton (Amanda Warren) because on the third anniversary of the Disappearance she wants to host a “Heroes Day” Parade to remember the lost loved ones of the town’s residents. Kevin suspects that their local cult The Guilty Remnant will disrupt Heroes Day and set off a powder keg of ill will.
The Guilty Remnant dress all in white, observe a vow of silence, chain smoke, and stalk the residents of Mapleton as part of their faith. Led by Patti (Ann Dowd) the local chapter has about 50 members living in a cul de sac of houses on the outskirts of town. One of those members Laurie (Amy Brennemen) has a connection to the Garvey family. There are several other important characters introduced in this first episode, Nora Durst (Carrie Coon) the keynote speaker of Heroes Day as well the poster child for survivors of October 14th, and Meg Abbott (Liv Tyler) a bride to be who finds herself constantly stalked by the Guilty Remnant.
This series looks to be an intriguing character study but since the show is not easily pegged as post-apocalyptic like the Walking Dead, supernatural like Lost or a police procedural like True Detective it’s difficult for audiences to know if this show is for them. I felt like it was a solid opening episode that kept some elements of things I knew from the source material but it was also different enough in good ways that I’m looking forward to episode 2.
– Mr. Khon