Summary: A drone sends a missile to the GR in the Miracle Visitors Centre and kills all of them. A timeskip goes 3 years into the future where everything in Jarden is under control again. Tommy and Kevin are both working as cops. Jill is gone to college. Mary had a boy. John is working as a psychic with help rom is wife Laurie. Matt has written a book about Kevin which Kevin is pissed off about. At the end of the scene there is a flash-forward to an older Nora who goes by the name Sarah.
The Good: There was a lot to like about this and several scenes felt like classic The Leftovers.
First of all, The Leftovers once again wowed us by opening the season with a scene showing something completely different. Like last season's cavewoman sequence, this one didn't impact the plot as a whole but presented a theme for the season and also showed us an engaging story in the span of a few minutes. This time around the focus was on a woman and her family awaiting the end of the world via flood, but it never comes to pass. This explores the idea of devoting yourself to faith and giving everything for it, but to no avail. This will likely be explored a lot this season as the 7th anniversary of the departure is coming up and we will probably get to see the world bracing for something to happen, and yet the most likely outcome will be that nothing happens. And I'm very excited to see this story get told even if it does feel a little telegraphed early on.
I liked the change in pace from the timeskip, but not the whole thing (see: The Bad) as it will surely allow for the show to reinvent itself once more. It was good to see the changes in Jarden after the disaster from "I Live Here Now". If we are going to stay in Jarden this season too, it is good to see some change come to the town so it still feels like a fresh new setting.
Dean's return was very welcome and enjoyable. It's good to get some closure on an unresolved storyline from season 1. We got some confirmation that there was nothing wrong with the dogs and that Dean was just crazy all along as expected. I loved the conversation between Dean and Kevin too. We initially take him a bit seriously since it hasn't been confirmed that he's crazy yet, and the tension amps up slowly as Dean prepares to make his big reveal... the reveal that dogs are take human form. It's so ridiculous and makes for a great laugh as the viewers realized we were fooled into thinking that this man is actually sane.
I enjoyed a lot of the other developments too. John becoming a psychic was a nice bit of irony after his beliefs in season 2, but it does fit his character after he literally witnessed Kevin coming back to life. I'm not sure how I feel about him being with Laurie (see: The Bad) but I do think their operation together makes a lot of sense. It also shows how easy it could be to be a psychic and to con people, making it more possible that the psychics we have seen before weren't genuine. I also liked the idea behind Matt making a book about Kevin. It fits what we know about his character to want to write a book about what Kevin experienced, and it also sets up an easy conflict with Kevin who will obviously be against being treated as the second coming of Jesus.
The Bad: This episode seems to have suffered from the shortened season and there were quite a few things that didn't deliver.
I didn't like the destruction of the GR. It's not made clear who sent the order to destroy them, which made me a little confused when Kevin and Tommy were talking about it. It also removes the emotional effect this would have on someone like John since we don't know what he knows about the death of his daughter, and instead he seems to be hanging onto an implausible thread that Evie may still be alive. I also didn't like that an entire storyline was just destroyed in the opening moments of this episode. Meg's story became a huge focus in the previous few episodes and it feels a little cheap to just end thestory so suddenly.
The timeskip also caused a lot of flaws. We don't know what happened to Erika, John and Michael after they realized Evie was dead, which should have been the main focus because of the emotions it would explore. We also don't know what happened to Erika which takes away from her split with John since we don't actually get to see it happen. I also would have liked to see more on Michael and why he chose to stay with his father instead of going to wherever his mother went. It's also odd to see John and Laurie together and we can't care about their relationship since we don't know why they are together or what they see in each other.
The final flaw I had was also with the timeskip: we didn't get to see what characters were told information. For example it is implied that Matt knows about Kevin's return to life but we aren't told who else knows about this. Kevin resurrecting is a big deal and so we should know which characters are aware that he came back to life. It seemed that Laurie didn't know Kevin came back, but it's still not clear. This lack of information does take away from a lot of the character dialogue scenes.
The Unknown: We got quite a few questions as always, though there were less in this premiere than usual.
What will happen on the 7th anniversary? It seems likely that nothing will happen but it's possible that I'm wrong about that.
What happened to Lily?
Why does Nora have a cast?
Where is Kevin Sr. and what is he doing in Australia?
What did Matt put in Kevin's book?
That ending scene was huge. What did we see there? Was that Nora in the future? Why is she living alone in the countryside? What happened between her and Kevin? Was there another departure? Did it happen on the 7th anniversary.
Do dogpeople really exist? With this show you never know...
Best Moment: I will go with the standout opening sequence. Wonderful storytelling and themes.
Character of the Episode: I will go with Dean for returning and closing his storyline.
Conclusion: This was a decent premiere, but it had some rare flaws that we aren't used to seeing in The Leftovers. However, I do think that these flaws only happened because the season was shortened to 8 episode instead of 10, and that if there was more time we may have gotten more clarity on what happened before the timeskip.