Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta’s The Leftovers is never going to solve its central mystery — the question of where 2 percent of the world’s population disappeared to on the October 14th event known as the Sudden Departure. The point of the show is following those left behind as they struggle to make sense of their world. That being said, the existential HBO drama has addressed a great deal of smaller puzzles that have surfaced along the way.
Recall the beginning of Season 2, when Evie Murphy and her friends had a strangely naked run through the woods, a silent car ride, and then mysteriously disappeared. These events were head-scratching — yet as Season 2 unfolded it didn’t simply “let the mystery be,” as its theme song proclaims. In revealing how Evie and her friends joined the Guilty Remnant, the show answered its own questions in a satisfying way. It also circled back to address Meg’s motivations in her sinister Guilty Remnant takeover, and in “International Assassin” it even brought back minor characters like Holy Wayne, Patti’s often referenced ex-husband, and poor Gladys.
As the third and final season approaches — promising to relocate the Garvey family to Australia while another apocalyptic event looms on the horizon — there are a number of lingering questions Season 1 and Season 2 have left. Here’s a few that demand answers.
1. Is Kevin Garvey Death-Proof?
Season 2 of The Leftovers revealed that Justin Theroux’s Kevin Garvey is a little bit death-proof. He dies twice — once in “International Assassin” and once in the season finale “I Live Here Now.” Although each episode presented his death and return in ways that made sense, the fact that it happened twice must have some larger story significance beyond generating surprisingly emotional karaoke scenes. Is it specific to his location in the mystical Departure-free town of Jardin, or can he do it anywhere?
2. What’s the Deal With Wildlife?
Rogue wildlife has been a recurring theme in The Leftovers. In Season 1, Kevin joined the bald and somewhat crazy Dean on nighttime dog shooting expeditions, because dogs went wild after the Departure. There was also a memorable sequence in which a rogue deer got loose inside the school, and prior to the Departure in “The Garveys at Their Best,” we learn that Kevin cheated on Laurie with a woman who had just hit a deer with her car. In Season 2, Kevin had to quarantine his dog upon reaching Jardin, and dogs once again ran rampant after the Guilty Remnant wreaked havoc, and the town dissolved into chaos. There was also a repeated motif in which a man would bring a goat into the local diner and slit its throat every week. So what’s their larger significance?
3. Are Lensing and Demonology Legitimate Concepts?
Although The Leftovers creators have stated their intent to never answer the show’s central mystery, that doesn’t stop its characters from attempting. Two of the most intriguing propositions in Season 2 were the concept of lensing and demonology in the form of the demon Azrael. Will these concepts turn up again and prove to be significant?
4. Is Geographic Location Important?
At the beginning of Season 2, a group of scientists purchase Nora’s house in order to study it, since it’s the site of an unusual concentration of departures. The Texas town of Jardin has an entire cult following based around the fact that no departures occurred. Repeated references to Australia crop up often enough to be a mere coincidence. Clearly, geography is significant on The Leftovers — but to what end? Now that the Garvey clan is relocating to Australia in Season 3, answers could be forthcoming.
5. Why Does National Geographic Magazine From May 1972 Keep Coming Up?
Back in Season 1, when it was revealed that Kevin Garvey Senior also heard voices and was considered to be mentally unstable, he placed great importance on an issue of National Geographic Magazine from May 1972. That magazine kept coming up — it’s shown behind Virgil in Season 2, Episode 7, and aspects of its contents are recurring plot points, like Cairo, and even a story about a lost civilization that disappeared after an earthquake in a similar manner to the Season 2 opening. As Season 3 is the final season, it’s time for the show to reveal once and for all what the deal is with this specific magazine issue.
6. What’s the Deal With Skype by Magical Fire?
In the show’s tour de force episode, “International Assassin,” Kevin Garvey visits an afterlife dimension that resembles a hotel. There, he briefly communicates with his father Kevin Senior through what appears to be a Skype-like video feed connected to the television. Only, instead of wifi, Kevin Senior is using magical fire. Please explain, Leftovers.
7. Are Kevin and Kevin Senior insane or magical?
The longest running issue The Leftovers has toyed with has been the question of the Garvey men’s sanity. Kevin Senior spent Season 1 hearing voices in his head, but they might in fact be enlightening him about the mysterious and unexplained events — even though everyone thinks he’s insane. Kevin spent Season 2 hallucinating Patti Levin, but he banished her on a visit to the afterlife that was unquestionably real and powerful. The show has always danced on the knife’s edge between the scientific and the magical; the surreal and the grounded. But as it reaches its end, it’s going to have to come to a definitive conclusion regarding the mental state of the two Kevins.
The Leftovers Season 3 premieres on April 16, 2017 on HBO.