HBO’s new summer show The Leftovers is off to a spooky start. We’ve seen some great book-to-TV adaptations from HBO, with Game of Thrones being the most lauded, so as big Tom Perrotta fans, we feel like we’re in good hands. Still, here are some things we’re hoping survive the transition from page to screen as the season goes on. Spoilerphobes beware!
Kevin’s struggle as a single father
Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux), the town sheriff whose wife has abandoned their family to join the Guilty Remnant, is left in a tough position with their teenage daughter Jill (Margaret Qualley). Kevin’s desperation to not fail her the way he feels he’s failed his wife Laurie (Amy Brenneman) and son Tom (Chris Zylka) is one of his strongest motivations throughout the novel. He’s a man who desperately wants his world, if not the world entire, to return to spinning on its regularly scheduled axis, and his continual attempts to reach his troubled daughter are a large part of that. We’d love to see more of the relationship between these two as the series unfolds.
The parallels between Laurie and Tom
Two members of the same family were both drawn into the two cults that sprung up in the wake of the Rapture. Laurie joined up with the silent Guilty Remnant, while Tom headed out to Holy Wayne’s terrifying desert compound. The book was a great meditation on what it is about these cults masquerading as religion that offers so many people hope in the face of uncertainty, and it’s interesting that both Laurie and Tom were drawn to that life, each of them dealing with it in an extreme way. Jill mourns for her mother, but Tom has the most in common with Laurie, and it would be great to see the similarities between mother and son expanded on.
Holy Wayne: Less ominous, more odious
To be honest, when we saw Brad Leland onscreen, for a minute we thought he’d be playing Holy Wayne. Instead, the charismatic cult leader’s shoes are being filled by Paterson Joseph. In the book, Holy Wayne was more of a dirty old man — a sexual predator, though his devout following never believed it — and Christine was simply one of his numerous wives. She was certainly no one he’d threaten Tom over. It’s an interesting choice to make Holy Wayne more of a threatening figure, but there was a certain merit in seeing him as a pathetic, egomaniacal cult leader who finally admitted his guilt in open court.
Keep it ambiguous
There were no easy answers about the mysterious worldwide mass disappearances in the novel, and that was one of the coolest things about it. The book was entirely about the aftermath: this happened, and now the world has to deal with it. Solving the mystery was never the point; it was about watching how people’s lives went on afterwards. Executive producer Damon Lindelof is a veteran of Lost, so we know developing a mystery is definitely his strong suit, but we’re hoping the focus stays on the lives of the citizens of Mapleton.
The Leftovers airs Sunday nights on HBO at 10 p.m.