The Leftovers – Axis Mundi – Review

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Last year I waxed lyrical about how The Leftovers was my TV highlight of 2014, and if the premier episode of season two is anything to go by, I’m sure I’ll be mimicking my own words once again come the season finale. ‘Axis Mundi’ is powerful and riveting, full of visceral images and bold ideas.

It has been well publicised that half of the cast from season one wouldn’t be continuing into season two, but they aren’t missed at all. Like I’ve said previously, all of these characters are those which you never invested in anyway. But in their place we are greeted by the Murphy family, who seem just as mysterious as most of the characters from last year.

Kevin Carroll joins the cast as John Murphy, who is instantly likeable, but also somebody we shouldn’t trust one bit. He is very quick to turn, and a line said by his wife suggests that he yearns to know about everybody in the town to decide whether they can stay or not.

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It was his birthday, but he was ‘working’ as he invited the Garvey’s over for dinner, suggesting there is something dark beneath the surface. Well, there most definitely is, as he sets his friends house on fire, for reasons hitherto unknown.

Isaac, who is able to read palms, unnerves John, which suggests there is some credence to his ‘power’. Maybe he’ll be the new Holy Wayne.

His wife, Erika, has less focus in this opening episode. Instead the main focus is upon their daughter, Evie, who seems to have vanished come the closing moments.

Given that Jarden saw no departures during the ‘sudden departure’ this is very intriguing indeed, as it suggests something has changed. Evie frequently goes swimming in a riverbed which is hinted to have mystical powers, but the water has now gone from the bed – as has Evie.

I’ve said before that I doubt we’ll ever get answers about the ‘sudden departure’, but it certainly looks as though we’re going to get more mysteries about it.

Speaking of mysteries, the parallels between The Leftovers and Lost are still prominent this season. There is a strong focus on religion, as Matt Jamison travels to Jarden to help out at the church, and given that his wife, Mary, has been upgraded to the main cast, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see her healed somehow. That, of course, parallels with Lost’s John Locke. We also see a plume of black smoke during the opening segment, which was a main feature of Lost’s first season finale. If you liked Lost, you’ll love The Leftovers.

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I think it was a smart decision to focus the premiere episode on the Murphy’s, as it will make the viewers invest in them more. This is similar to the season one episodes ‘Two Boats and a Helicopter’ and ‘Guest’, which shifted the focus to a limited number of characters to give a more emotive and streamlines narrative.

This definitely worked here. By the time the Garvey’s turned up I was completely invested in John and his family. I want to know what is going on between them.

But that’s not to say I don’t care about the Garvey’s anymore, because I do. Hopefully we’ll get some answers about them next week. I just don’t see how Laurie and Tommy will figure into this season, given that there is no real need for them to come to Jarden, but I’m sure we’ll find out before long.

I’m going to finish with the opening segment, which completely mindfucked me – and I’m sure many other viewers. There is definitely something wrong with Jarden, something that has been wrong for quite some time. What is it with the earthquakes? Axis mundi, in certain beliefs, is a connection between Heaven and Earth, but the earthquakes suggests that hell is trying to break through to Jarden.

And yet the cavewoman was spared, whilst the rest of her tribe died in the cave collapse. Her baby being picked up by another is an allegory for Nora taking Christine’s baby, but the fact that the baby survives strengthens the notion of the waterbed being powerful. And now that that water has gone, I expect things to go very bad in Jarden, Texas.

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About Barry Quinn

Barry Quinn is an English Language and Literature graduate and a Creative Writer MA studier. He is an aspiring creative and professional writer and is currently in the process of writing his first novel. His writing blog can be viewed here: https://barrygjquinn.wordpress.com You can follow him on Twitter at: @mrbarryquinn