HBO's newest drama, The Leftovers , is just as cringeworthy (the violence! The weird teenage sexcapades! The mute-by-choice cult) and addictive as you'd expect. The pilot premiered tonight after months of teasers and trailers meant to entice the Game of Thrones audience. [Warning: Spoilers ahead.]
In case you've missed every last one of the thousand or so spots HBO has run for The Leftovers, the premise dances around the Rapture. In one of the most prominent spots, a mother is talking on her cellphone and getting into her car as her baby cries in the back seat. Suddenly, the crying stops and when the mother looks back, she realizes that the baby is gone. But it's not just her baby. Two percent of the world's population disappears simultaneously and completely mysteriously. After a brief prologue (yes, with the baby from the ads disappearing), the show picks up three years after the disappearance. But don't think that means people have made sense of anything or even really come to terms with it. Quite the opposite, actually. Here are five questions raised by the pilot that will have you tuning in weekly (unless, of course, you have no curiosity).
1. What is up with the cult? One of the most mysterious and intriguing things about the series (so far) is the cult. In the wake of the mass disappearance, people have dealt with their confusion in different ways. One of the surprisingly popular options has been to join a strange cult. All we know about cult is that they wear all white, smoke cigarettes, menacingly follow around terrified citizens of the town, live in a compound of homes they bought up at the end of a cul de sac and have zero reverence for those who disappeared. Oh, and on top of that, they don't speak (except when welcoming new members to the cult). The pilot sets them up as the antagonists but it's too soon to tell, well, anything about them at all.
2. Why did our protagonist's wife, Laurie, abandon her family to join said cult. Our protagonist, at least seemingly, is Kevin Garvey, the town's police chief and a struggling single dad. It's easy to infer that his wife went missing during the great disappearance. By the end of the pilot, however, we learn that she actually abandoned her family (Kevin, plus their two children – more on them later) to join the creeptastic cult. WHA…?
3. Did Kevin's daughter, Jill, kill her stoner classmate? Much of the episode centers on how the members of the Garvey family are dealing with the disappearance. We know that Kevin is trying to live his life and Laurie said eff all and joined a cult, but what about their two kids? Their daughter, JillI, seems to be having a tough time adjusting. She makes inappropriate jokes (miming hanging herself to flirt with a boy she likes) and lashes out in anger (breaking the nose of a girl who picks on her on the field hockey team). At a party, she plays a very intense, cellphone app-based game of spin the bottle and is chosen by fate to choke one of her classmates, a stoner type who wants to masturbate while she does her part of the deed. She agrees, but when she leaves the room, he's slumped over the side of the bed in the background and never heard from again in the episode. I know it's probably bad to hope that she's starting out at Arya Stark-levels of psychopath, but I totally do.
4. What is happening with Tom Garvey? And rounding out the last member of the Garvey family is Tom, who is…doing something. He's definitely doing something. I'm just not sure exactly what. He drives powerful people to get questionable care from the mysterious figurehead ("guru," according to Wikipedia) for whom he works. We also know that he doesn't like to answer calls from his dad. But that's really about it.
5. What's going on with the dogs in the town? For all of the weird and twisted moments in the Leftovers pilot, the weirdest, saddest and most twisted bookend the episode. At the beginning of the episode, Kevin is going for a run when he spots a stray dog. He tried to coax the dog over to him to read his tags and return him to his owner when, all of the sudden, BAM – the dog is shot dead by a mysterious man in a pickup truck. By the end of the episode (after a huge, riotous fight at a memorial festival, trouble with his kids and a violent confrontation with the cult while trying to get Laurie to come home), he's helping pickup truck man shoot dogs. It's worth mentioning that they're rumored to have gone crazy upon witnessing the disappearance and are in the process of attacking and eating a deer at the time. But still…RIP PUPPIES.