Reprinted from a post I authored on watchingtheleftovers.com.
After the finale of the first season of The Leftovers, you probably had to catch your breath. The Guilty Remnant’s grand gesture went beyond the scope of their previous hijinks to an inhuman level of cruelty. Kevin’s last-second rescue of Jill was in no way a sure thing. Tom’s abandonment of Wayne’s baby and her subsequent discovery by an escaping Nora gave viewers, at long last, something positive to carry them into the hiatus with some hope for the future.
Fast-forward to now. The second season is about to start and we’ve seen a teaser and two trailers. Last season left me wondering: How will our characters carry on? We’ve been given fleeting glimpses, but below I’m sharing some questions I’m looking forward to having answered about six of the main characters this coming season. For fun, I’ll even make wild, unsubstantiated guesses about what may come, based purely on the three minutes or so of footage I’ve seen thanks to the trailers. Remember, these are just guesses.
1. Is Nora Actually OK?
It wasn’t obvious at first why we should care about Nora. Yes, her situation was extra sad given the departure of her entire family, but it was how the departure had changed her which made her interesting. Her coping mechanism was to maintain her home exactly as it was on October 14. This fed into an emotional monotony, which forced her to extreme and generally unacceptable behavior in order to even register a feeling.
In the Nora-centric episode, “Guest,” Nora gets a power-hug from Hugmaster Extreme Holy Wayne, after which she seems OK. She moves on at home by buying only the food she needs and changing out the paper towel roll. She stops lurking around her husband’s girlfriend’s place of employment. She even changes her answering machine message and starts dating the local hot cop. Something starts eating at her, though, and she’s about to bolt for a completely fresh start when she finds freshly abandoned Little Waynette—that’s what I’m calling Holy Wayne’s baby.
From the trailers, we can see Nora and Kevin have grown together and taken the baby into the home they’ve made together. Nora even starts wearing what she must consider to be what all local Texan women wear, but what my Texas wife calls “prairie dresses”—indicating to me she is trying to become a completely new Nora Durst. An OK Nora Durst. I like Nora and want her to be OK, but I’m afraid for her. If any of the business they’ve shown us in the trailer amounts to losing any member of this new family unit, I fear she will break.
2. Is Jill Done Being “Bad Jill”?
Jill and her friends illustrated the depths humanity can sink to post-departure in Season 1. Their behavior went beyond the immature and reckless decisions the teens of our world make, into a realm in which they truly lived each moment as if it were their last. The Jill we get a glimpse of in episode 9 shows her potential for being a motivated, caring member of the family can look like. The departure, the exit of her mother, and then the introduction of Aimee to her life sent her on a significant detour, though.
With Kevin’s heroic rescue of Jill in the first season finale, I think the both of them left Laurie and the life they had behind—both physically and emotionally. Her father saving her from the situation her mother put her in was probably enough to start her down a new path. The trailers for Season 2 show a more conservatively dressed Jill who smiles and cares for Little Waynette like a member of the family. This all looks good, but there are also some scenes suggesting Jill finding new ways to make trouble with Jarden teens. I hope I’ve been manipulated through good editing, though. Personally, I’d like to see Jill make good.
3. Is Meg the New Patti?
By the end of the first season, Meg has shot up the ranks of the local Guilty Remnant chapter. With Patti unaccounted for, members looked to Laurie for direction and decision-making. When Jill entered the scene and started to distract Laurie from the plan, Meg stepped up and forced the Memorial Day grand gesture to happen.
Considering Laurie’s reunion with Tommy and scenes from the trailers of the pair together in regular clothing, it looks like she’s put herself on the GR’s inactive roster. The Mapleton GR members—the survivors of Memorial Day at any rate—were willing to follow Meg’s lead before and I bet they will again. The beauty of the GR, from a questionable leader’s perspective, is that it’s perfectly OK to lead them all into a riot, where they are beaten, burned, killed, whatever. Since those were the desired outcomes, Meg must make a pretty good leader.
I don’t know how big a role the leader of the Mapleton branch of the GR can play in a story that has moved to Texas, but she’s in the trailers. She’s not dressed in classic GR white but, rather, a white, flowy dress. Maybe it’s the leader’s prerogative on issues related to their own uniform? I can’t figure out what Meg’s role is going to be in Season 2, but I bet it will be foul. She turned into a character who acted as if she were trying to prove something to someone. People can be motivated to do pretty bad stuff when motivated that way, and I think we’ll see Meg take that concept to another level of nastiness.
4. Does Matt Have a Role in the Larger Story?
I think Matt believes himself to have been chosen to do something important. He thinks he has a role to play—on the same level as the Garvey men—in whatever the larger plot is. I don’t think he’s correct in this belief, but I think he can help them. The movement he started in Mapleton was initially meant to try and disprove the idea of the departure being the rapture. It later morphed into a tool and vehicle to try and “save” the members of GR, like Meg. After the church is taken away, Matt continued to command the loyalty of a small congregation but instead of bible study, he turned their efforts to helping publish the posters and flyers he used in his effort to “save” the GR. This role of “savior” is huge to Matt and guided what he did throughout Season 1.
The little bits we see of Season 2 suggest Matt is the first to get to Texas and entices Kevin’s new family to follow him—at least that’s my guess. There are some other clips suggesting the locals in Jarden don’t take Matt’s status as a man of the cloth into account when we see him bloodied and put into Puritan-esque stocks. Considering the rate Matt enrages people, if he has a role in the larger story, he may never get the chance to fulfill it.
5. Can Laurie Become a Normal Human Being Now?
The Season 2 trailers, as previously mentioned, depict Laurie clad in regular clothing and hanging out with Tommy. Being a member of the GR, forgetting your attachments, doing horrible things to strangers and former friends…those things are well and good, except when your daughter is burning alive because you’ve enraged the local populace to the point of murder and arson. Then you’re not so sure about all that stuff, are you, Laurie? Laurie came to the GR feeling broken, and I can’t imagine the events of Memorial Day “fixed” anything—other than feeling like she should leave the GR. Patti told Kevin the reason Laurie joined the GR was because the group could give her a purpose. Upon later review, the purpose they gave her nearly killed her daughter.
I can’t imagine Kevin and Jill wanting anything to do with her again, so she will need to get whatever familial love she can out of her relationship with Tommy. Will the love of her disillusioned son be enough? I doubt it. Season 1’s Episode 9 showed the Garveys at their best, after all, and she was a wreck. Now, she’s decidedly worse off. I’d put Laurie on suicide watch, if I were Tommy.
6. Is Kevin Crazy?
A little yes, but mostly no…I think. From Season 1, we know his sleep is terrible. He seemed to wake up with no memory of going to sleep where he was when he opened his eyes. He took a lot of pills just to get to sleep. He dreamed of crazy stuff and local dog-killing entities. He also got out of bed and did stuff he can’t remember. Sometimes the stuff was weird, but mostly it was harmless, like nailing his shirts to trees out in the woods. Other times, he abducted local cult leaders.
In scenes from the Season 2 trailers, it’s suggested Patti has become Kevin’s own Obi-Wan Kenobi or Jiminy Cricket by becoming a ghostly adviser only Kevin can see/hear. Given Patti’s new plane of existence—introduced by Kevin Sr. in the Chief’s insane asylum dream—I have to imagine this is very similar to Kevin Sr.’s problem with unseen speakers and voices in his head. Does this make Kevin crazy? If we were watching A Beautiful Mind, then yes, it does. This is not that world though. This is a world where 2 percent of the world’s population has disappeared for no reason. Why should we limit ourselves to the Sudden Departure being the only supernatural event or situation the show is going to present us with? I don’t think we can. Some kind of supernatural sensitivity—raw, uncontrolled, but still present—would go a long way to explaining what’s going with Kevin. I will be looking for more evidence of this theory as Season 2 progresses, because I’d rather believe in ghosts than Kevin just being a nutcase.