Can The Departed Come Back On 'The Leftovers'? Perhaps The "Rapture" Isn't So Permanent
If there's one thing that's been drilled into our heads while watching HBO's bleak new drama The Leftovers , it's that life in Mapleton, New York really really sucks... and if there are two things, the second is that The Departed are never coming back. So, being the savvy television viewer that I am, I can't help but wonder: What if they did come back?
That would, after all, be the ultimate twist. It would be a twist for the characters, it would be a twist for viewers of the show, and it would be a twist for readers of the book, since no such event occurs in the course of Tom Perrotta's novel. But since the book ends after only some 300-odd pages, it makes sense that showrunner Damon Lindelof would have to come up with something to keep his series going. And what would be a more shocking cliffhanger for the first season than the reappearance of one or more of the people who inexplicably vanished three years ago?
Of course, the idea of The Departed returning has plenty of pros and cons. So before we decide whether such an event would be a good idea or not, let's examine some of these points:
CON: It would be very The Returned-esque.
There's already a glut of shows on the air about dead people coming back to life, and this turn of events would just add The Leftovers to the list. And no, I'm not talking about The Walking Dead. First there was the popular French series Les Revenants, which aired in the United States on the Sundance Channel as The Returned. Then there was the American series Resurrection, which airs on ABC. And next up there will be the American remake of The Returned, which will air on A&E. Do we really need another series that centers around long lost loved ones returning to their homes?
PRO: The show might already be hinting at it.
In the third episode, when we first entered Nora's house, the camera quickly passed by her refrigerator, plastered with family photos. Sharp-eyed viewers might have noticed that the man in a photo with her — presumably her husband — was actually actor Sebastian Arcelus (aka Lucas from Netflix's House Of Cards). They obviously wouldn't cast a real actor as a stand-in for a photo, so he must actually appear on the show at some point. Sure, it could just be for a few quick flashback scenes, but I wouldn't put it past Lindelof to be dropping a massive hint here...
CON: It would demand answers.
Right now, the mystery of where the Departed went is pretty much on the bottom of the list of questions the show is concerned with answering. That's as it should be; just like in Perrotta's novel, the Sudden Departure is just an inciting incident to get all the characters coping with loss at the same time. The Leftovers has never been about the "why," but rather the "what now?" However, if the Departed started coming back, that would imply that they'd been somewhere, rather than having simply vanished into nonexistence. And if they'd been somewhere, then we'd need to know where. And there's simply no answer to such a question that would please everyone.
PRO: It would make for some juicy drama.
Bringing the Departed back to Mapleton would undeniably create some very juicy drama. Would any of them even recognize their town anymore? How would they feel about the actions of their loved ones while they were gone? It would throw into even harsher focus all the ways in which people had been coping: who had moved on, who hadn't, who'd run away, who'd joined a cult? In fact, the whole Guilty Remnant would look pretty silly if the world suddenly returned to normal, wouldn't it?
CON: It would render the title moot.
Of course, the most obvious reason that the Departed can't return is because it would make the very title of the show redundant. Nobody would be "leftover" anymore. The series has always been about the people left behind, and if you take that fundamental aspect of the show away, then it no longer has any identity at all.
Nora Durst might disagree with me, but the show is almost certainly better off without the sudden return of that missing two percent. After all, The Leftovers is not a sci-fi show about a series of mysterious events, but a drama about grief and all of the various ways in which humanity deals with that emotion. So let's hope that the Departed stay departed.
Images: HBO (2); Giphy (3); Getty Images