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Review: Things keep getting stranger in ‘The Leftovers’

Tom Long
The Detroit News

Midway through the second episode of the new season of HBO’s “The Leftovers,” one character turns to another and asks, “What the (bleep) was that all about?”

It’s a question that bears asking over and over again as the second season of this supernatural thriller unspools. The fear is that creator Damon Lindelof, a veteran of “Lost,” is once again simply throwing outrageous moments on the screen with no clear plan as to where they’re headed.

But the thing is, most of those dizzy moments — including the first episode’s epic opening, which seems tethered to nothing else — are as entertaining as they are mystifying.

The first season of “The Leftovers” at least had Tom Perrotta’s fine source novel to serve as guide; the second is plowing new ground. The universe, though, is the same. Two percent of the world’s population suddenly, inexplicably disappeared one day, leaving behind millions of confused mourners.

The first season was centered in Mapleton, New York, where a vague cult called The Guilty Remnant — dressed all in white with everyone silently chain-smoking — has popped up. In the second season, Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux), Mapleton’s former chief of police, has moved his family to Miracle, Texas, the one town on earth where no one disappeared.

Which is supposed to offer safe haven, but Miracle — which has become a tourist attraction — is even more bizarre than Mapleton. The fire department starts fires, there’s some sort of prophet perched atop a tower in the town square, and that’s just the beginning.

As the season progresses, Mapleton re-emerges and it becomes a tale of two deeply weird cities. It may all be a tease, but give “The Leftovers” this: It is the strangest show on television.

‘The Leftovers’


9 p.m. Sunday