Season 1 of HBO's drama The Leftovers found its characters confronting a mystery so big it defied answers: Where did 146 million people disappear to? That's how many people vanished into thin air on Oct. 14, 2011, during the Sudden Departure that claimed two percent of the 7.3 billion souls on the planet. By comparison, Season 2 starts off with a mystery on a much, much smaller scale. This time, the driving mystery of the season is: Where did Evie Murphy disappear to?
It seems much more likely that we'll get an answer to the whereabouts of one teenage girl than we will to what caused the Sudden Departure in the first place — but that doesn't mean the answer will be easy to come by. The circumstances around Evie's disappearance are baffling to say the least. After an earthquake rattles the Murphy home late at night, John and Erika go to check on their daughter, only to find her missing from her bed. Eventually, John and Evie's brother Michael track her car down to a lake where she liked to go swimming with her friends... except where the lake used to be, there's no just a giant hole in the ground.
What happened to Evie? Here are four possibilities:
1. It's The Sudden Departure All Over Again
Obviously, everyone's first (and worst) fear will be that the Sudden Departure is happening again. Nobody in Jarden disappeared the first time it happened — but does that guarantee everyone's safety the second time around? Miracle National Park has become a mecca in the year since the Departure, with the town building its reputation on being the safest place in the world. What will happen to that reputation when Miracle's pilgrims find out a young girl has gone missing?
2. It's The Fracking
The earthquake that took place just before Evie vanished wasn't the first — it was just the worst. Such tremors have apparently been occurring semi-frequently, which some citizens have written off as the result of nearby fracking. If so, maybe Evie's disappearance is just a horrible accident. It appeared as though a giant crack had opened in the bottom of the lake. Perhaps the fracking lead to a seismic event so intense that the water — and Evie along with it — was simply sucked the chasm.
3. She's Been Abducted
No, not by aliens. Perhaps the cause of Evie's disappearance isn't natural — or supernatural — but rather the work of mortal humans. Earlier in the premiere, we witnessed her father burn down a man's house because the man claimed to have psychic powers. (In retrospect, it looks like those powers were real, since he warned John something terrible was about to happen to him.) Assuming this wasn't the first time John has burned down somebody's home, there are likely several people in Jarden who are holding a grudge against the fireman. Could someone be getting back at him by kidnapping his daughter?
4. She Ran Away
Of course, the simplest explanation is often the correct one. Maybe Evie and her friend just ran away from home. If she found out what her dad had been up to, might she have been mad enough to leave town? Then again, there are too many holes in this theory for it to stand up to much scrutiny: Why would her friend have run away with her? Why were Evie and her friend streaking through the woods earlier that day if they were planning on running away later? And, if they were leaving town, why didn't they take the car? It seems much more likely that, whatever happened to Evie, she didn't vanish of her own volition.
Hopefully we'll get more clues on Evie's disappearance in next week's episode. And, hopefully this is one mystery on the show we'll actually get a definitive and satisfying answer to. Don't leave us hanging, Leftovers!
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