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Scott D. Pierce: HBO's 'The Leftovers' is weird, confusing

Published June 25, 2014 2:10 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I don't trust Damon Lindelof. This makes it hard to trust his new HBO series, "The Leftovers."

You know the saying — fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Well, Lindelof fooled me for six years, continually claiming that he knew where "Lost" was going and that, before it was over, he and the other producers and writers would provide answers to the questions they'd raised.

That didn't seem to be the case. Clearly, Lindelof & Co. had no idea where "Lost" was going. Few of the questions raised were answered. And the Big Answer — that the characters on "Lost" had been dead all along — was the laziest, most slapped-together series finale imaginable.

Lindelof admits there is a certain similarity between "Lost" and "The Leftovers."

The new HBO series, which premieres Sunday at 10 p.m., is set in a small town three years after 2 percent of the world's population suddenly disappeared. Literally disappeared, without explanation.

So, like "Lost" before it, "The Leftovers" is about a small group of people dealing with a big mystery.

There are differences, of course. "The Leftovers" is based on the novel by Tom Perrotta, who is also a writer/exeutive producer on the series. So, presumably, Lindelof has a road map this time around.

The characters on "Lost" were "actively engaged in determining why it happened and how,"Lindelof said. The characters in "The Leftovers," on the other hand, "are not actively searching for what happened in the departure. They're actively searching for what they're supposed to do in their lives."

There are, however, mysteries galore in "The Leftovers." The series centers on small-town police chief Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux), a father of two teens. He's among those struggling to move on with life, which isn't easy given that someone close to him is involved with a cultish group known as the Guilty Remnant; his son is involved with another cult leader; and the town's dogs have gone crazy.

Sunday's premiere episode is intriguing and engaging, albeit confusing. It raises a lot of questions and answers one. Sort of.

Lindelof, not surprisingly, is still making promises.

"I think that by the time you've seen the first three or four episodes, you'll get a much better sense of what the series is going to be," he said.

After watching four episodes, I still have very little idea what's going on and I'm less interested in "The Leftovers."

Apparently, that's my fault.

"I'm sure that there will be people who say that they don't like it and it's just way too depressing and intense and confusing," Lindelof said. "And other people who were completely and totally captivated by it. So I guess it really depends on the individual."

This individual is skeptical.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.