The season two finale of The Leftovers airs on HBO, tonight at 9:00pm ET/PT. It remains to be seen if this is also The Leftovers‘ TV series finale. In a conversation with Variety‘s Maureen Ryan, co-creator Damon Lindelof discussed some of the differences between The Leftovers, and his Lost TV show, which aired for six seasons on ABC.
Along with Carlton Cuse, Lindelof famously negotiated an end date for Lost. The duo essentially asked for the series to be be cancelled three years ahead of time, for plotting purposes. Both have acknowledged that having an end date freed them creatively.
In his interview with Variety, Lindelof also seems to feel freed by writing a story that is not a mystery series. While no one knows why people disappeared in the “Sudden Departure,” The Leftovers is not about what caused it. It is about living with the effects.
During the conversation, which included mention of Lindelof’s decision to leave Twitter, Ryan observed that by its nature, The Leftovers is not a show about answers and payoffs, in the way Lost was. Lindelof, who agrees, replied:
Right. This is the area that I really want to mine. I do feel like this premise finds a way to talk about loss. To me, it’s not a Sept. 11 metaphor, it’s a death metaphor. When death happens, it’s shocking and it’s sudden and it’s permanent and you have no answers. You’re like, “Why did this happen to this person? Why did this happen to me? What am I supposed to do about it?”
Ryan said that while The Leftovers uses some of Lost‘s “storytelling moves,” it feels more open-ended. She asked Lindelof if that’s the sense he has when writing the series. Here is his answer, from Variety:
You know, “Lost,” by the very nature of what the premise was, you always had to be thinking about the future. Until we got the end date, we were in a very nebulous space in terms of how the show should be paced and how mysteries should be answered and how new characters should and should not be introduced. You had to be kind of talking about the long game, the entire game plan. For “The Leftovers” you can talk about it on a season by season basis the way Vince Gilligan talked about “Breaking Bad.” He would say, “Then we would have the scene where Walt opened up the trunk of his car and there’d be a gun in there and we had no idea what the payoff was going to be.” The audience would say, “Okay, we’re cool with that.”
I would read those interviews and I would be like, “Why aren’t they killing Vince Gilligan? How is he allowed to say that they’re making it up as they go along?” The answer to the question is, because Vince Gilligan’s not writing a mystery show. When you’re writing a mystery show, you have to know the answers to the mysteries that you are presenting to the audience. And if you don’t know the answers, they can smell it. That is the lesson that was learned. If you don’t know the answer to your mystery, the audience can smell it. They’re just way too smart.
As previously reported, book series author and co-creator of The Leftovers TV series, Tom Perrotta, says they’re still waiting to hear from HBO whether The Leftovers will be cancelled after two season, or renewed for season three. According to star, Justin Theroux, while he is hoping for a third season of The Leftovers, season two is a nice “bookend” to the show. There almost wasn’t a second season of The Leftovers. Early on, Lindelof thought of ending it with one season.
Were you a fan of Lost? Have you been watching The Leftovers? Do you expect it to be renewed for a third season, or cancelled after season two? If you’ve watched the season two finale, do you feel like it is enough of a bookend to the series? Please share your thoughts, in the comments.