The Leftovers: “Pilot” Review

When 140 million people disappear without a trace, what happens to the people they left behind?


Note: The following review goes into detail about the episode. SPOILER ALERT!

Imagine waking up to a world where 140 million people had just simply vanished without a trace. It’s a pretty far out there thing to envision but that’s exactly what the people of HBO’s The Leftovers are dealing with. It’s an incredibly interesting premise for a show, with the focus solely on how this event has affected the people left behind rather than attempting to actually discover the cause of this seeming “rapture.”

Justin Theroux stars as Kevin Garvey, the Chief of Police in the small suburban town of Mapleton. 100 residents of Mapleton disappeared three years ago during the event, and while no members of his family were among the 100, Kevin seems to have lost all of them in some way or another. Kevin’s family has been ripped apart, with only his troubled daughter Jill (Margaret Qualley) remaining in his life. Theroux does a wonderful job here playing the tortured Kevin, with several scenes highlighting what may be a very fragile mental state that we’ll assumedly be delving into as we go forward.

Having the show focus on Mapleton alone, instead of increasing the scale to worldwide, definitely worked for me. By showing us how the citizens of one small area are dealing with such an incredible event will only help us get invested in each of the individual stories we got introduced to here. There is a sense though that many of these stories will collide and intertwine over the course of the season, something which we get to see happen here already. The resident cult, “The Guilty Remnants” may be the fascinating tie that will bind many of these stories together as they have the largest amount of overflow between the various plot introduced in the pilot. Their pledge of silence and penchant for smoking cigarettes gives them an incredibly intriguing air of mystery, and we can’t even be certain of their intentions yet.


The Remnants pop up throughout the episode, with our biggest look at them coming from our time spent with Laurie, who just so happens to be Kevin’s wife. It seems that in the wake of the global disappearance, they began to band together and have grown into a decent sized group who owns several houses in Mapleton. Along with their silent, chain-smoking habits, they also rather creepily like to follow certain people around and just watch them. One of these people, Meg (Liv Tyler), eventually cracks under the pressure of these tactics and agrees to join the Remnants. Along with Laurie’s continuing story, Meg should provide us with a look at how the Remnants welcomes/indoctrinates their new members.

Kevin’s son Tom (Chris Zylka) seems to have also found himself wrapped up in a cult of sorts as we get a glimpse into the secret compound of the mysterious Wayne. This story feels the most cut off from all the rest, but it still managed to offer up plenty to keep it interesting. Wayne appears to be some sort of guru or faith healer, capable of “relieving people of their burdens,” people that include congressmen and other important figures. Judging by his conversation with Tom, along with Tom’s scars, Wayne might not be the most peaceful of leaders. Kevin’s other child Kim isn’t in a much better situation as we see her getting up to trouble in school and engaging in all sorts of destructive behavior at a late night party. Children can be the weak links in many television shows but I feel like we’ve seen enough of Tom and especially Kim to show that they can stand as compelling characters on their own.


The big Hero’s Day Parade that the episode was building to gave us a better idea of how the town as a whole was dealing with the “rapture.” Many important people from their lives disappeared without a trace and they’ve never gotten any closure at all, so understandably there are a lot of different reactions. Some people are willing to throw themselves fully behind the parade and honor their loved ones while others feel like it’s a waste of time. Kevin’s main concern was the Remnants turning the whole thing into a disaster and his fears were vindicated when the parade descended into a bloody riot. I have a feeling things will only escalate as the Remnants grow in size and influence.


This was a very strong pilot episode overall. Some pilots suffer when they try to overload us with all the important information we need, and the extra-long running time definitely helped here. I absolutely love a good mystery and The Leftovers has all the makings of a wonderful mystery packed with interesting and well fleshed out characters. There were several moments in the pilot that suggested other worldly events may still be occurring, or Kevin might just be on the way to losing his mind. Whichever proves to be the case, The Leftovers looks like it’ll be well worth watching to find out.

Were you hooked by ‘The Leftovers’ pilot? Which character of the Garvey family are you most interested in seeing more of? Stop wasting your breath and comment below?


We do not comment on anything relating to previews for the next episode and beyond.
About Michael Spring (159 Articles)
Michael Spring is a staff writer for If he's not playing Metal Gear or watching some excellent TV show, he's more than likely asleep. For some witty banter and the occasional rant about football, you can follow him @OldSnake24 on Twitter

1 Comment on The Leftovers: “Pilot” Review

  1. Hi. Good review. Kevin’s other daughter is named Jill, not Kim.

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