Joe Reid: So, The Leftovers got a second season! I'm happy. Are you happy?
David Sims: I am happier than any of the characters on HBO's semi-hit show The Leftovers. But that is not much of a standard to judge happiness by.
Joe: I should hope not. (Though, honestly, smoke all day, stare all night, wear cute parkas — the life of a Guilty Remnant is not un-appealing.) But the point is: we've got at least one more season in store. So let's get right past the "Good for you, Damon Lindelof!" shoulder-patting and get to what the internet is best at: telling him how to make his show better. Because while I do like it, a good bit more than it seems like most people do, there are whole pockets of this show I could probably do without and be just fine.
David: Yes. The Leftovers began with one Sudden Departure, but it is in desperate need of another one, because this cast needs a serious trimming. No quality show veers more wildly in what it gives the audience week to week, and that's mostly because a lot of these characters' stories are just not worth caring about.
Joe: Which makes it a lot like Lost, as reluctant as I am to keep bringing the "L" word into conversations about this show. But you've hit upon a good idea. Maybe this season ends with Rapture Part Deux and we get rid of another swath of humanity. The first Rapture cleared off 2% of Earth's population. I feel like we can afford to kick things up a notch. Let's say we get rid of 50% — not of the whole Earth, just of the current Leftovers cast. Deal?
David: Deal. Then we can deal with the rest of the Earth later.
Joe: Okay, I'm pulling out the cast list. Kevin Garvey: Stay or Go?
David: Gotta keep Kevin, right? Justin Theroux is a pretty great leading man, provides some serious eye candy, and Kevin's internal strife is one of the show's mysteries that I am invested in both emotionally and from a plotting sense. Is he going nuts? Is he just bummed out? Will he and Nora make it work? Can he maybe stop bringing animals into his kitchen while in some kind of fugue state?
Joe: I'm with you halfway. Love Justin Theroux, love the sweatpants, I think he's an important character in that he pulls a bunch of other characters together. But I do not care for this is-he-or-isn't-he-crazy business. Do not care for. If I never see one more hazy, dreamy scene of him wandering an empty street, staring warily at the guy who shoots the dogs, wondering if his dad is a lunatic or prophetic. Those scenes scare the shit out of me, because we are a stiff breeze away from Damon Lindelof telling is that Kevin himself is a prophet, and this show needs to stay plausibly non-ecclesiastical for as long as possible. But, yeah, fine, keep him. Just put a leash on that puppy.
David: Okay, what about Laurie? Kevin's ex-wife was a fascinating entree into the Guilty Remnant, and Amy Brenneman has been doing good emo-smoking acting, but is there more for us to learn from this character if she just sits around being grumpy and silent?
Joe: YES. All Guilty Remnant can stay. I honestly am forever on the precipice of declaring that The Leftovers should be only about the Guilty Remnant, and thus should be television's only completely mute program. Laurie is maybe not the MOST interesting GR, but of all the characters of whom you can say we've barely scratched the surface, I think she goes the deepest. Plus after years of watching her flail around on Private Practice, I'm happy watching Amy Brenneman be good in something again.
David: I agree. Amy Brenneman is a great actress (Judging Amy 4evah), and she's doing great work. She stays!
Joe: Good. Okay, next on the chopping block ... uh boy ... Jill Garvey. I have a bad feeling about this.
David: Why? I love Jill! It's her friends I can't stand. Maybe don't get into a fridge next time you're hanging out in the woods though, kiddo.
Joe: What is there to love about Jill? All the mopiness of her mother and father, but no cool ethos or actual mental illness to justify it.
David: I ... I can't make a super-strong case for Jill. I guess she's just all that keeps me going in the scenes with the teenagers, since she's actual capable of playing emotion and is once in a while called on to do it, especially when confronting her mother's abandonment of the family. But I don't think I could really go to the mat for her. She's still my favorite #LeftoverTeen though.
Joe: I would probably take one of the cute doofy twins over her, but not both. But in general, the Leftover Teens can all go as far as I'm concerned. Rapture all teens. Now, I feel like I already know your answer on poor Tommy. Poor loyal, noble Tommy. Poor loyal, noble, squinty, fit Tommy. Poor loyal, noble, squinty, fit, kinda dreamy if you can get past all the snoozy aimlessness Tommy.
David: Goodbye, Tommy. Please throw away your walkie-talkie cellphone and exit stage left.
Joe: We probably need to mention that Tommy is Kevin's son and currently shepherding a pregnant young lady at Holy Wayne's sketchy whim. That's Tommy. That's the Tommy we're rapturing.
David: The fact that we need to explain this is why Tommy has got to go. Apart from screaming in the pool that one time, he's never done anything I found remotely interesting. And that includes killing an FBI agent.
Joe: Okay, done. Next: Reverend Matt. He got a whole episode! He said that really mean thing to his sister about how her husband was cheating on her, just to win an argument! He got a rock thrown at his head and lost his church! I think IRL I would hate Reverend Matt. But I think he still serves a purpose in Leftoverland.
David: Yeah, Reverend Matt has to stay. That's a pretty electrifying performance from Christopher Eccleston when he has any significant screentime, and he's a real window into the issues of faith and abandonment by god that Lindelof and Perotta are exploring. Plus, that'd just be super-harsh to Nora for her to lose another family member.
Joe: I like the spirituality that we get with the Rev Matt storylines more than some of the other spirituality, I think, because with Reverend Matt, that kind of yearning for a higher purpose is just that. Yearning. There's maybe nothing else beyond that, and that's the Leftovers ambiguity I like.
David: He stays! While we're on that family, you gotta want to stick with Nora, right? Her centric episode, the sixth, was the show's best so far.
Joe: A Leftovers without Nora is a Leftovers I would probably not watch. She absolutely had the best episode of the season so far, she manages to be incredibly tortured, maybe more than any other character, and still wildly likeable. Carrie Coon is making me think things like "I wonder if there will be any Emmy momentum for her in a year?" Nora for President of Leftover Earth.
David: Go Nora! Co-sign on everything!
Joe: I have a feeling the next one will be our most contentious: Megan Abbott, as played by one Ms. Elivabeth Tyler.
David: Bye Meg!
Joe: Okay, I disagree.
David: Liv Tyler is a bad actress, but it's not helping that Meg feels like a pretty unnecessary character after week three.
Joe: Here's my case, irrespective of Liv Tyler's acting abilities, which are not exactly abundant, but I think are better than you give her credit for. Meg hasn't had much to do since going Full GR a few weeks ago, sure. But it's not like she's sucking up a lot of screen time being boring either. She's been backgrounded, but I think she's still got a lot of story to give. Like why the Guilty Remnant was so into recruiting her in the first place. Any recognizable story arc dictates that the new recruit ultimately reforms or re-shapes the organization that brought her on. I want to see where that goes. Again: all Guilty Remnant, all the time.
David: She can be set aside for now, as we move over to Aimee, the sultry teen who's always making eyes at Kevin and encouraging general bad behavior.
Joe: GURL BYE. I like Emily Meade as an actress just fine. But UGH, the Mena Suvari American Beauty trope. No thank you.
David: Agreed. Can we toss all the teens out the window at once?
Joe: Yes. I'm serious about a blanket teen rapture, provided it can also include pregnant Christine.
David: Yeah, sure. I was vaguely interested in Christine (Annie Q) at the beginning and she at least gave a little spark to Kevin's otherwise dull scenes, but after last week's unnecessary shootout, I don't know how much I care anymore.
Joe: I say get rid of her before Lindelof gets any ideas about her birthing the second coming or a big ball of light or something.
David: Yes, Lindelof is not to be trusted around mysterious pregnancy sub-plots.
Joe: The all-teen rapture also includes twins Adam And Scott (Max and Charlie Carver) even though they are cute as buttons. Time to be cute as buttons in the great maybe-beyond-but-who-knows-maybe-it's-an-island. How about Mayor Lucy?
David: I mean, she can stay if she wants. Mayor Lucy isn't really dramatically messing with the order of things, at least not yet. Maybe we'll get a boring Mayor Lucy-centric week and I'll turn on her.
Joe: I feel like Lucy is a much needed oasis of normalcy, or at least a much-needed lack of a personality or mood disorder. I like "she can stay if she wants." Like, give her the option. Maybe Rapture is preferable to dealing with Kevin's shit.
David: Yeah, she's great at telling everyone to get real. And just stop worrying so much and walking around in a daze. Lucy's there to shake some sense into mopey old Kevin.
Joe: Next up is Patti (Ann Dowd). Seems pretty open and shut to me.
David: Love you, Patti!
Joe: Patti is the best. Patti might talk again soon, so you have to keep her for that reason if nothing else. I kinda want Patti to kill eve
ryone else? Is that weird to say? Did I just get too real?
David: That's a little dark. Patti doesn't need to kill anyone, just watch quietly and smoke as they all tear each other to pieces. (This show is dark).
Joe: How about Dog-Shooting Dean?
David: Yeah, I like Dean! I like Michael Gaston, I like that he's at least trying to DO SOMETHING about stuff rather than just wander around in a daze, and I want to know more about him. Considering his prominence in the pilot, we haven't got much Dean, but I'm confident there'll be more soon.
Joe: DIS! A! GREE! Get rid of him. Not for killing dogs, that's pretty whatever. But all he exists for is to be a walking symptom of Kevin's madness. In my Post-Rapture 2.0 universe, we're not bothering with that business anymore. Rapture Dean so fast.
David: DEAN MUST LIVE!
Joe: Put Dean's fate on the pile with Meg's, then. We can deal with them once we pass sentence on Holy Wayne.
David: Surely you don't want to get rid of Holy Wayne!? YOU WOULD ROB THIS SHOW OF ALL ITS ATMOSPHERE, JOE!
Joe: I agree that Holy Wayne should stay. But I want a social worker of some kind to be in the writers room during all scenes featuring Holy Wayne. Because he's exactly where this show could go bad. And I don't want it to go bad. So that's the 15 characters. Let us be generous men and say that eight can stay.
David: OK. So we have Tom, Laurie, Matt, Nora, Lucy, Patti and Wayne for sure. That's seven. So now we must decide between Meg and Dean.
Joe: Damn it. I was hoping it would not come to this. I can't imagine I'm going to have much success moving you on Meg.
David: I don't think so, but I admire your hatred of Dean. Maybe we should let them both go and petition for new characters.
Joe: Deal. Someone with a gun who gets recruited by the Guilty Remnant. Or a smoker with a dog. The possibilities are endless!
David: Goodbye, half of The Leftovers cast! It was not really a big deal knowing you!
The Remaining Un-Raptured:
Kevin (Justin Theroux)
Laurie (Amy Brenneman)
Matt (Christopher Eccleston)
Nora (Carrie Coon)
Lucy (Amanda Warren)
Patti (Ann Dowd)
Wayne (Paterson Joseph)
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.