Summary: The Murphy family lives in Miracle, Texas a place where the entire population of a town was spared from the Sudden Departure. Kevin, Nora and Jill move in next door to the Murphys. The daughter of the Murphy family Evie, mysteriously vanishes when going for a swim along with several friends.
The Good: This was a very good premier that set up the season very nicely.
First of all, this episode was very ambitious and set up the season in a bold and unpredictable way. By sticking with a family who we are not acquainted with at all we get to see the show with fresh eyes and open up the season with a total blank slate, instead of treating it as a continuation of season 1's story. This is unique and very risky and yet it somehow works and makes this episode a very fun experience. It introduces a new setting and batch of characters in an almost flawless way.
The opening scene was another example of this risky and bold approach. The focus goes to a very random cave woman from many years ago. It sets up the story well and asks several questions about the significance of the scene (see: The Unknown), as well as providing a wonderful short story that contains a similar theme to the one being examined in The Leftovers as a whole. The cavewoman lost everything important to her in an unexplained tragedy (the earthquake) and is forced to continue on with her grief, but even with new life (her child) she can't leave her past behind (the cave). It's an excellent example of symbolism, and it works to open up this season by reminding us of the overall theme and tone of the show.
One of the best things this episode does is that it makes you care for 4 new characters and a family as a whole in the span of a single episode. It's really impressively done and also shows that the writers learned from showing "The Garveys at their Best" so late in the first season. Now we are set up to watch this family in suffering after the surprise ending and we will care because we understand how each member of the family functions and what their relationships are with each other.
Of all the characters we saw, John stood out the most. Each character's storyline raised plenty of questions, but John's story did have some emotion and tension. His confrontation with Isaac did have some emotion since it's hard to see a man get evicted out of his house. And Isaac's prediction that something bad will happen did loom over the episode and provided a really tense moment when John was reaching into the garbage disposal. And of course everything came full circle at the end of the episode when it seemed like Evie just vanished into thin air along with her friends and the town's springwater.
I also really liked the comedy with Mark Linn-Baker faking his departure and being discovered. Of course there would be at least somebody who would fake their departure.
I really like the new intro. It has less of a serious vibe but still has a bit of a sad and eerie take to it with the shadow figures representing those who departed. The song of "Let the Mystery be" was an excellent choice as it reinforced that we won't get a concrete answer and that we just have to let it be.
The Bad: As much as I liked this episode for being very bold, it still does kind of suck to hardly see any familiar faces. At least we did get to see Kevin's family a little bit and the appearance from Matt was also very welcome.
The Unknown: What was the significance of the cavewoman in the first scene? Did she in some way make Miracle the special place it appears to be? Is Miracle even special or just lucky?
What does the cricket symbolize? Does it have any significance in the story?
What were those cracks in the road that were blocked off? Was it caused by another earthquake?
Who was the woman with the wedding dress? Why is she wearing it?
Who was the man on the pillar and why is he there? What was the significance of the letter to David Burton in Australia?
Is Isaac a genuine psychic because he predicted something bad would happen? Or is he a fake like John thinks? It seems like Isaac has become the new Holy Wayne.
Why does John make it his job to expose frauds? Who did John attempt to kill? John says the Murphys have no friends, is that true? John's work may have alienated the town.
What was the significance of the bird in the box that Erika dug up?
Why was Matt in Miracle? He seemed to imply that something magical happened to him? What was it?
Who was the man who killed the goat and why did he kill the goat? Why was nobody bothered by it?
Who was the man Michael went to visit on the outskirts of town?
Who gave John the pie?
Why did the Garveys move to Miracle? A fresh start? Where are Laurie and Tommy?
What was Kevin's head wound? what happened? Why did he stare at the couch? Is he still a little crazy?
Did Evie's seizures have any significance? How about her and her friends streaking in the forest? Where did she and her friends go? Were they in the water and it made them vanish somewhere? Did they depart? Will there be more of these departures?
Why is the water gone? Was it something supernatural or did the earthquake cause it?
Best Moment: Michael biking through Miracle was an excellent moment. It set up the new setting in a brilliant way and some expertly ordered shots, we got to understand the significance of the location and what was so special about it.
Character of the Episode: John for standing out the most out of all the new family members.
Conclusion: This was a unique and bold premier but it worked and set up the season very well. I am looking forward to seeing where the story goes and I hope it can hit the emotion highs of next season. Some answers would be very nice as well.