“You have to believe we are magicNothin’ can stand in our wayYou have to believe we are magicDon’t let your aim ever strayAnd if all your hopes surviveDestiny will arriveI’ll bring all your dreams aliveFor you.” — “Magic,” Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu
Justin Theroux has a unique gift: When Kevin Garvey is completely clueless about what is real or imagined, the actor can transform his face into one of boyish befuddlement, as if his brain is about 12 seconds slower than his eyes. It’s a look of WTF-edness that pops up in almost every episode of The Leftovers, but in “International Assassin,” he aims it right into the camera as Kevin stares at himself in the hotel bathroom mirror.
It may as well be our faces now. Because The Leftovers just got real.
Ever have one of those mornings when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Or more precisely, you wake up handcuffed to the bed and your lover has left you, taking your baby with her, and the imaginary woman in your head just won’t shut up about it?
“Gonna be a hard day, buddy,” Patti tells Kevin after he reads Nora’s Dear John letter. (“Mary and the baby are with me. Don’t call.”)
People in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks.
That is one of the themes in “Lens,” the first episode since episode 2, “A Matter of Geography,” co-scripted by author Tom Perrotta, who’s clearly invested in Nora’s story in season 2. She’s impulsive, as we know from her spontaneous purchase of the house in Miracle, and she holds a grudge, too. Early one morning, before the neighborhood is awake, she calmly walks next door and chucks a rock through the Murphys’ window. Oh, did we forget that John Murphy banished her brother, Matt, to carny-degenerate tent-city?
One of the best episodes from the first season of The Leftovers was “Two Boats and a Helicopter,” which delved into Matt’s backstory, the accident that cost him his wife Mary’s health, his futile effort to save his Church from foreclosure, and his brutal encounter with a smug thief who tries to steal his casino winnings.
What do you get for the man who has everything?
If you’re Ellen DeGeneres, and the man in question is Justin Theroux — the Leftovers star, newlywed, and motorcycle enthusiast — you apparently get him a life-size dummy made up to (sorta) look like his wife, Jennifer Aniston.
In the season 2 premiere of The Leftovers, Mapleton, New York, seemed far, far away. There were new characters in a new town, and the Garveys didn’t even appear until the last chapter, dropping out of the sky to move into a new house in the seemingly blessed town of Miracle, Texas. How did the Garveys get so fortunate to buy this house in a locked-down town where desperate tourists are looking for answers to the Sudden Departure? How much time has passed, and has Kevin’s reconstituted family brought him some peace?
If there was any doubt that season 2 of The Leftovers would have a very different vibe than last season, which faithfully mined Tom Perrotta’s dark 2011 novel, look no further than the new opening credits. Gone are the anguish-of-the-damned paintings and strings-heavy orchestral music.
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