When The Leftovers began season 2, it ushered in a creative renewal that saw it become one of the best series on television that year. The move from the snowy fictional town of Mapleton, New York to Jarden, Texas (otherwise known as Miracle) was a boon for the show, ending on a resurrection-filled climax that could have easily functioned as an emotionally fulfilling conclusion to the series. But as was announced last year, series creator Damon Lindelof felt the series had one more season's worth of story in it to bring the whole thing to a close.
It has now been over a year since there was a new episode of The Leftovers, and only a few scant details have emerged about the upcoming season and how it plans to close out the story of Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) and his newly reunited clan. Before now, the most concrete information was that Kevin would, at some point, join up with his father Kevin Sr. (Scott Glenn) in Australia, since the land down under was heavily teased throughout season 2 as a focal point for the mystery of the Departure. Since then, though, news from the series has been almost nonexistent aside from a clever announcement from a Guilty Remnant-dressed Lindelof and writer-producer Tom Perrotta (whose novel of the same name the series is adapted from) informed fans when they could expect the series to return to HBO.
While the April 2017 season 3 premiere date is still a ways off, that hasn't stopped Lindelof from providing a little more information and a first-look image from the partially Australia-set storyline when he spoke with EW. The image offers confirmation that Kevin has joined his father down in Oz, and that he has also grown an impressive beard. There's not much else to go on other than Kevin Sr. likes to sit on the roof of (presumably) his house, and that someone has a pretty cute dog.
What the image lacks in firm details, however, Lindelof more than made up for by discussing the change in setting and what that means for the story as it approaches its conclusion. Lindelof said:
“Australia is the end of the world geographically and our show is about the end-of-the-world emotionally. And there’s also something about Australian cinema — it’s primal, ancient and spiritual — that felt like it fit The Leftovers, whether it’s Mad Max movies or Walkabout, or Waking Fright or Peter Weir movies.”
In referencing Peter Weir, it's likely that Lindelof means to draw a connection between the director's 1975 film Picnic at Hanging Rock, which also dealt with the aftermath of a group's unexplained disappearance. While it was nothing like the millions of people who went missing in The Leftovers, many of the thematic elements and existential ideas will no doubt be similar. And as Lindelof puts it, season 3 will explore plenty of those.
“Though there are some big crazy ideas in the third-and-final season, we wanted to feel like we were building toward something conclusive. I wanted to take full advantage of the fact that when the audience watches the first episode of season 3 that they know it’s the beginning of the end. You don’t want to feel like an epilogue, but a climax.”
But will that climax come with answers to the Departure? Well, from the very beginning, Lindelof and co. have been upfront about that question, stating that the purpose of The Leftovers was to explore the emotional aftermath of the world-changing event, not to explain it. And to hear Lindelof tell it, the series plans to stick to its convictions in that regard when it comes to the final season.
“It’s a very careful storytelling process because you don’t want to frustrate the audience. It’s one thing to say, ‘I’m giving you this box with a present inside and you’re never going to open it’ — who’s going to accept that gift? We’re constantly trying to modulate and fulfill the promises we’ve made. And it’s not enough to say that all we care about is the characters and not the mythology. But I do think with The Leftovers the word ‘mythology’ doesn’t necessarily apply the way it does to Lost or Westworld or Stranger Things or True Detective. Those shows have clearly defined mythologies. We don’t want to frustrate the audience but The Leftovers plays by its own set of rules and will continue to do so.”
After such a phenomenal second season, expectations for The Leftovers season 3 will be high. Here's hoping that the series can deliver as rewarding a season as it did the last go-round.
The Leftovers season 3 premieres in April 2017 on HBO.