HBO's glum new series, The Leftovers ponders what would happen if two percent of the worlds population were to suddenly vanish... apparently, such an event would make everyone left in really, really bad moods for no less than three years. The new series is nothing short of a tidal wave of televised angst, a study in gloom and post-crisis nihilism, as the people left behind struggle to put everything back together after the rapture-like event tears their lives asunder. Showrunner Damon Lindelof fills his latest series with just as many twists, turns, and questions as his earlier series Lost. Here are the mysteries that have us scratching our heads after just the first hour. Warning: spoilers to follow!
What's with the cult?
Perhaps the most mysterious element of the pilot — you know, besides the whole people vaporizing into thin air thing — is the GR: a cult whose members spend their time staring at empty picture frames, eating regularly scheduled "sustenance," smoking like chimney stacks to "proclaim their faith," and mercilessly following specified targets. What's the end game here?
Why does Chief Garvey's wife join them?
We spent the premiere assuming that our main character, a police chief and father named Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) lost his wife on that fateful day three years past. But the final moments of the episode reveal that Kevin's wife Laurie didn't vanish in the event, but instead joined up with the GR. She doesn't seem entirely brainwashed by the cult, looking pretty heartbroken upon seeing her husband. So what's making her stay? Does she just like smoking wherever she wants without judgment?
And why does Liv Tyler ask to stay with them?
Right after she doles out a hostile slap to a pair of GR agents who follow her and her fiancé around town, she pays a visit to the cult's compound, asking to stay a couple days. Whatever their plan is, the recruiting tactics seem to work.
What's with the other cult?
What's worse than one cult? Two, obviously. While we have some sort of handle on what the GR are and what they might stand for (some sort of spiritual guidance in the wake of the "rapture"), we still have no idea who or what The Leftovers' second mysterious group, which works meditative miracles in the desert, is up to.
Who is Wayne?
We do know that their apparent leader, Wayne, is the "real deal." Whatever that means...
And what did he say to the congressman in that room?
Wayne continued to confuse by taking an uptight Texas congressmen into a room and somehow "unburdening" him. What did Wayne say to the guy to make him so chipper? It must have been more than just the cool British accent.
Why did Tom, Garvey's son, join this desert organization?
This rapture thing really hit the Garvey family hard. But Tom doesn't seem as mentally harangued as his poor mother.
And what's with the girls by the pool?
Tom has taken a liking to one of the girls at the compound he works for, but they seem to be under lock and key. Why are they being so strictly guarded?
Why won't Tom talk to his dad?
Maybe some lingering tensions from the mom going away?
And how did he get those scars?
Does it have to do with why everyone went missing?
What’s coming now that “grace period is over?”
Wayne's super ominous warning doesn't bode well for anyone. Now that three years have past, humanity is in a heap of trouble. Garvey isn't too thrilled that the mayor is bent on throwing a memorial parade to celebrate the lost.
Why can't the parade have clowns?
Clowns are fun and not creepy at all, right?
Is that Kathy Geiss?
Yup. Same actress who plays the perpetually silent, unicorn-obsessed interim head of NBC on 30 Rock is a cult member on The Leftovers.
Why the dogs are going crazy?
In genre fiction, dogs are often acute to the supernatural. There's definitely something coming, and it likely has something to do with "grace period" being over.
Are gummi worms really the preferred candy of the rapture?
We would have gone with Peach Os.
Where do I download that spin the bottle iPhone app?
And does it have Twitter integration?
Why did Gary Busey get taken?
And Shaq for that matter? Why them? And what is the world doing without them?!
What’s with the deer imagery?
I thought Hannibal had the market cornered on that.
What’s with that huge tattoo on Garvey's back?
The huge back piece seen on actor Theroux's character is a real tattoo, but we wonder why the series didn't bother digitally removing it? Will it figure into the story later on (like Jack's tats did on Lost), or was it just easier for the series to leave them be?
What the hell is up with Justin Theroux's hairline?
This is the biggest mystery of them all.