Road trip! Season 2 of HBO's post-Rapture drama The Leftovers begins with the Garveys on the move. Kevin, his daughter Jill, his crush Nora Durst, and the baby they found on their porch have officially left Mapleton — and its marauding dogs, brooding teenagers, and annoying cults — behind for greener pastures. Those greener pastures are a veritable garden of Eden to those seeking solace from a world ravaged by the Sudden Departure... or a "Jarden of Eden," to be more specific. That's just one of the many nicknames bestowed upon the town of Jarden, Texas — the only town in the world that suffered zero Departures on Oct. 14, 2011.
In a town of 9,000 people, at least 180 of them should have vanished on that fateful day, and yet not a single soul within the city limits departed. That's why Jarden has been rechristened Miracle National Park and has become a mecca for pilgrims seeking a sense of safety in a world that no longer makes sense. But, while Miracle may seem safe from the outside looking in, we got to spend an hour-long episode looking at it from the inside... and not everything is what it's cracked up to be.
Here are just a few of the things that seem off about Jarden, TX:
- There's a hobo living on top of a pillar in the middle of the town square.
- There's a woman watering her lawn in a bridal gown.
- There's a man slaughtering goats in a crowded diner.
- There's a bird living inside a box buried in the ground.
- There's a psychic reading people's futures in their handprints.
- There are firefighters who start fires.
- There are teenagers running naked through the woods.
- There are mysterious earthquakes.
- There are young girls vanishing into thin air.
At least some of these are readily explicable — if still downright weird. My best guest about the woman in the wedding dress is that's what she was wearing on the day of the Sudden Departure, and she continues to wear it to preserve her good fortune. The man slaughtering goats is an extension of this idea, offering a sacrifice to god (or the gods, plural?) in exchange for continued protection. The townspeople at least seem to think the earthquakes are the result of nearby fracking. (Whether or not this assumption is true is TBD.)
The psychic clearly lives within the same magical-realism context as Season 1's Holy Wayne — and, like Wayne, the question of whether or not his powers are real are pretty much moot in the face of the fact that he's been proven right by the end of the episode. And John Murphy (Kevin Carroll), one of the new central characters we met in this premiere, clearly has a habit of burning down the homes of people who threaten the peace and safety of his community; people who he views as "charlatans" exploiting the fears of the masses flocking to Miracle.
But, what about the hobo in the tower? Is he just there to increase the Twin Peaks-y vibe of Jarden, or is his presence significant somehow? What's up with the bird that Erika Murphy (Regina King) dug up out of the ground, and how did it survive being buried alive? Why was Evie Murphy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) streaking through the forest with her friend? And, most importantly, where did she and her friend disappear to — and where on earth did all the water in the lake go?
Miracle National Park may have a reputation of being the safest place in the world, but it's clear that reputation won't last long if young girls keep vanishing into the night. Something's rotten in the Jarden of Eden... and I, for one, can't wait to find out what it is.
Images: Van Redin/HBO (3)