Damon Lindelof ends season two of HBO’s hit The Leftovers in a very different place than the first season, and it must mean a renewal is on the way, at least I desperately hope so. “For me, the first season of The Leftovers was an intense, emotional struggle,” he said. “In the second season of The Leftovers, I really feel like it kind of broke through and became its own thing. I stopped dwelling on the past and allowed myself to be in the present.”
Now the ever-candid writer/producer awaits word on a third season, a decision that’s been complicated by the drama’s ratings, which are almost as bleak as the show itself. Viewership for the second-season drama, adapted from Tom Perrotta’s novel, has plummeted nearly 60 percent from season one, with the series averaging 670k viewers this year.
“If the show had been on par with season one, I think we would definitely be proceeding,” says Lindelof, while acknowledging that conversations are taking place with HBO. “There’s a sense of, ‘Where did everybody from season one go? Are they going to binge it? Are they coming back?’ … There’s all sorts of spin that you can attribute to it, but there is this mystifying aspect of, ‘Well, if everyone says that the second season was better, then where did everybody go?’”
“It just feels awesome and amazing. There’s a part of me that’s like, “Oh, but you know it’s going to go away again.” That’s certainly one way of looking at it. I’m just really trying to enjoy it and be in the moment. The validation is great. It’s not like we were able to execute the plan we put out there and then there was a tremendous amount of high-fiving, like, “Wait until everybody gets a load of this.” You just never know. Up until the moment that the premiere aired, I thought, “There are going to be people who just hate the cave woman sequence and there are going to be people who hate the fact that 85 percent of the first episode doesn’t have any of the characters that we told them to care about in the first season — but we really like this. We think that this is compelling storytelling and Kevin Carroll’s awesome and Jovan’s awesome and Regina’s awesome.” The fact that people embraced it was surprising — not because we didn’t hope that they would; it’s just that you just never know. So, the very short answer to your question is that it feels great and I don’t want to get off the rollercoaster,” Lindelof admits.
The only complaint I had about this season was the show’s opening title music. Who goes from the lush, elegance of Max Richter, to this hokey music that failed to embrace the story?
“The only reason we changed it this year was it felt like the opening title wasn’t accomplishing everything that we wanted it to. I kind of feel like the new opening does. I’m really in love with the title sequence and Iris’s music, but I also feel like the answer to your question is, first of all, can we afford it? Every time you change the opening title sequence, it’s costly. The other thing is don’t just do it to do it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I liked the title sequence the first year, but the minute that I said I wonder if we should change the title sequence, everyone said, “You should, you should.””
Please, change it back. Let’s hope we get to see more of the Garveys in 2016, and a return to Max Richter’s enchanting and haunting opening theme. Thank goodness we had some of the great music in the episodes this year, by the world’s more talented composer.