HBO's The Leftovers easily could have ended after season 1, having completed the story laid out in the novel upon which it was based. Instead, it continued on for a second season that was arguably even better than the first.
Season 2 ended this past Sunday, and Screen Rant liked it a lot. As with the season 1 finale, it wrapped up the story arc in a way that would have been just fine as an end to the series as a whole, and indeed there was no indication one way or the other if the series would continue after that.
Now, however, official word comes from HBO that The Leftovers has been picked up for season 3. There is a downside to that news though: the third season will also be the last. The press release included high praise for the show from the president of HBO Programming, Michael Lombardo:
"It is with great enthusiasm that we welcome back Damon Lindelof, Tom Perrotta and the extraordinary talent behind THE LEFTOVERS for its third and final season. This show has proven to be one of the most distinctive HBO series and we are extremely proud of its unrivaled originality, which has resulted in such a passionate following by our HBO viewers. We admire and fully support Damon’s artistic vision and respect his decision to bring the show to its conclusion next season."
The Leftovers tells the story of the Sudden Departure, a mysterious event in which two percent of the world's population vanished. Or rather, it tells the story of the survivors of that event. The first season, based on the novel by series co-creator Tom Perrotta, took place in the fictional town of Mapleton, New York. The second season, which took place after the events of the novel, relocated the action to Jarden, Texas, the only place in the country with no reported departures. That creative change also introduced a number of new actors, like Regina King, Kevin Carroll, and Jovan Adepo, who brought new depth and perspective to the series with depiction of the troubled Murphy clan.
So far there is no indication as to whether season 3 will continue the story in Jarden or take the show to yet another new location. Regardless of the locale, though, it's likely those who like stories wrapped up all nice and tidy will be as frustrated by the conclusion of the show as they were by the conclusion of Lindelof's previous creation, Lost. According to Lindelof:
"With our beginning and middle complete, the most exciting thing for us as storytellers would be to bring THE LEFTOVERS to a definitive end. And by ‘definitive,’ we mean ‘wildly ambiguous but hopefully mega-emotional,’ as all things related to this show are destined to be."
No doubt season 3 will introduce all sorts of new questions while evading answers to old ones, but as long as the show can continue the emotional intensity of the first two seasons, it will continue to be worthwhile viewing for fans of strong, character-based storytelling.