Knowing that HBO’s newest series The Leftovers comes from one of the masterminds behind Lost, Damon Lindelof, you might be wondering if we can ever expect any real answers – especially after where tonight’s pilot episode leaves off. With traditional tellings of the The Rapture, we’re lead to believe that only people that have accepted God into their lives and hearts will “disappear” – however in tonight’s episode we’re teased with little tidbits that show that wasn’t really what happened in this case. Was it even The Rapture? I mean if we want to get technical about it – aren’t all children under 7 supposed to disappear? That alone would be more than 2% of the world’s population.
So many questions. Not really any answers…. so we took a look at what Tom Perrotta had to say about the series his book is based off of – he’s also the co-creator and executive producer of the series.
“I think some readers who like their loose ends to be tied up might be a little frustrated with a book like this.” Perrotta commented. “There’s an open-ended quality to the story that TV viewers might be more patient with, because a series will keep going, while a novel will close down. I thought TV might be the way to go because I felt I wasn’t really done with that world when I finished the novel.”
“I spent a lot of time reading and thinking about contemporary evangelical culture, and kept running into the fact that The Rapture isn’t a metaphor for some people. It’s something they believe in deeply and expect to happen. I tried to take the idea of The Rapture seriously, and imagine what the world might feel like in the wake of a mass disappearance. In evangelical theology, The Rapture is a reward for the people who are taken away from this world, and a rebuke to those left behind. It leaves out the grief and confusion of the people left behind. In a way I didn’t fully understand at first, “The Leftovers” became an examination of collective grief, and I realized I was writing about a search for meaning in the wake of a terrible mystery. What would an authentic contemporary American religious upheaval look like?” Perrotta continued. “I think one of the reasons the Western world is so secular right now is that we have a certain amount of control over our lives. We expect that we will live a long time and that things will make sense. The moment we lose control is when we start grasping for explanations. The book is really about the birth of religion as a response to trauma.”
Damon Lindelof (showrunner, co-creator, and executive producer) also commented on what he hopes that viewers will take away from the series, and the areas they hope to explore with it. “My hope is that the show taps into something emotional and personal for them. I think all of us have had some kind of experience with loss, or the fear of loss. We’ve all had some experience with the search for meaning and trying to understand why things happen.” Lindelof explained. “I think this world forces the characters, and therefore us, in a way, to think about the meaning of life and the existence of God. There’s certain existential questions that we can believe we know the answers to, but there’s no defined proof. There are certainly characters in this show who are very interested in discovering the answers to the mystery of what “The Sudden Departure” meant and where they went, but I had to take this job knowing that there was a possibility that this show might never want to answer those questions, much in the same way that the mystery of life is that we don’t know what happens when we die.”
So there is a possibility that this show will never answer the questions that you have after tonight’s pilot. Was it The Rapture? Why did both good and bad people “disappear”? Is there really an end game in mind – or will they all have been dead the whole time… like another series we invested 6 years in? Who are the GR? Why do “they smoke to show their faith”? Who is Wayne? What does he do to people? I could keep going… but I digress.
We invite you to share your theories and thoughts on tonight’s pilot episode below. We may be clueless after the pilot, but at least we’ll be clueless together!
Photo Credit: HBO