What a wonderful premiere.
Yes, a reset button has been pushed, and the end result is The Leftovers Season 2 Episode 1 delivered one of its best hours. It's fresh, mysterious and full of possibilities, with a decidedly wicked edge.
I was immediately drawn into this new world, and if someone had told me we'd never meet up with the characters we met in The Leftovers Season 1 ever again, after 40 minutes with the Murphys, it wouldn't have been upsetting in the least. They're a very intriguing family.
For some reason, the town of Jarden, Texas was left untouched by the Sudden Departure. That means nobody was swept up, but it was certainly not unaffected. We didn't have to spend very long there to realize that the place hasn't made out all that well after the Departures, after all.
Even though nobody was taken, people still go to local man, Isaac, to have their futures read, something John Murphy doesn't feel too keen about. But that's not why he set the fire that burned his house down is it? That's more likely to do with Isaac's decision to rent out a portion of his house.
There's a booming tourist industry in Jarden, but judging by the security and the way police treat potential trespassers, they don't want anybody staying past visiting hours.
We were treated to an in depth look at the origins of Miracle State Park and know that the tremors have nothing to do with fracking, despite residents' off-the-cuff comments to the contrary. Instead of fixing a crack in the road as a result of the quakes, they fit it with an acrylic box, protecting it. Who does that, and why?
While the town may not want new people coming into their home and do despicable things to ensure it remains that way, they also thank God for what they do have. We all eat Big Macs and drink diet sodas to call it even, right?
Somehow Matt Jamison received the calling to head to Jarden, but sharing his stories with parishioners about "before" his life in Jarden weren't welcome. The slight grimace he had on his face as he told John he felt safer than he ever had wasn't very reassuring.
The general feel of unease conveyed during the premiere continued as the Garveys finally made their way to town, moving in right next door to the Murphys. When Erika teased John that perhaps the pie left on their doorstep for his birthday was poisoned, he wasn't laughing, but it didn't stop him from giving the pie to the Garveys as a welcoming gift.
Beginning with the opening scene, who knows how long ago, we're given the impression that there is a mysticism or natural order of things in Jarden. It feels as if they could push it too far, against the odds of good fortune they have had on their side so far. After all, Isaac said something bad was coming to John. He had a bad feeling about the pie, his daughter had an epileptic fit, dropped his birthday cake and the pie was right back onto their table as they all shared dinner that night.
I bet he would have eaten that pie right out of the tin while standing on the front stoop if he could stop the events that unfolded later that night. Were Evie, Victoria and the entire lake victims of the latest Sudden Departure? It's one mystery that will be fun to poke around, even if it's never actually solved.
What else is out there just waiting under the surface to come to a boil? For how long has this community been hiding the flaws of their Jarden of Eden?
Have the Garveys made the right choice in moving to Jarden? Are they any safer than they were in Mapleton? They now live next door to a convicted felon who attempted murder and regularly burns down houses while putting out fires. It's their first night in town and two girls have gone missing. Is it a payback for missing the Sudden Departure? Did the Garveys bring bad luck with them? Will someone think they did?
There's no rhyme or reason to any of my suppositions, but that's the beauty of this series and the clean slate before us in The Leftovers Season 2. Anything can happen. Whether it's a philosophical discussion, spiritual, supernatural or something altogether different, I'm up for it.
The best part is that the morose feeling that washed over everyone in the first season seems to have lifted, leaving in its wake a slightly sinister feel. It's such a relief. Anger (and fear) is easier to swallow than so much grief. If each following episode continues with the strength of this premiere, then we're in for a helluva ride.
Hit the comments and talk about the new season. What do you think about the new location? What do you hope happens next?
The Leftovers Season 2 Episode 2 will check in with the Garveys and events that prompted their move to Texas while The Leftovers Season 2 Episode 3 circles back to Laurie and Tom Garvey and what's happening with the Guilty Remnant, and all of the stories intersect, so don't think about tuning out!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.