The third and final season of The Leftovers is set to premiere April 16, smack in the middle of a very, very busy television month. We’ve seen trailers, and teasers, and artwork, and all the usual promotional bric-a-brac. Today, in the surest sign so far that the season is actually coming, for real, no jokesies, the first seven of the season’s eight episodes were released to critics. Which, admittedly, means very little to 99 percent of the show’s fan base. The only reason to even mention it is because the screeners were accompanied by a letter from showrunner Damon Lindelof. It’s a pretty good letter. Lindelof starts out by discussing the perils of binge-watching, then talks spoilers, and then — in nice little Lindelof twist — cops to being a binge-mad lunatic like the rest of the world.
You should read it. It’s fun.
Dear Critical Community,
G’day! Welcome to the third and final season of THE LEFTOVERS. On behalf of our entire team, I just wanted to say one thing before you embark on the journey.
Bingeing is bad.
I am old school. And not just because I agree with Joss Whedon about everything. Never before in the history of the English language has “binge” been associated with something healthy or productive. Just because there is an entire can of Pringles in front of you does not mean you should eat them all in one sitting. Every time I have done this, I feel sad and guilty, and then mad at The Pringles Corporation. Which is probably not even a thing. But I also must acknowledge times have changed. I must acknowledge there is not just too much television, but too much good television (“Fleek TV?”) and in order to make any kind of dent, we folks who produce it have to get out of our rocking chairs and get hip to the times. Which probably includes not ever saying “hip” again. Anyhoo…
We’re providing you with seven of our eight episodes. Watch them however you see fit. Review them however you see fit. It’s not my place to suggest how to do your jobs. I’d rather you not spoil some stuff, but I ultimately think it’s ridiculous to list that stuff, as it would seem completely arbitrary. All I ask is that if you were surprised by something that happens on the show (either positively or negatively), it would be cool to maintain that same surprise for the audience. For example, when Liv Tyler shoots lasers out of her eyes in Episode 4, we want that to be as shocking for them as it was for you.
Liv Tyler does not shoot lasers out of her eyes in Episode 4.
It’s Episode 6, actually.
But aren’t you bummed that I told you?
You get it. You’re pros. The point is, I’ve never sent out this many episodes in advance and I feel scared and I am trying to mitigate that fear by controlling things, but the way I’m controlling them is by trying to convince you that I’m okay with not controlling them. I also ate an entire can of Pringles last night while watching the entire first season of FLEABAG until three in the morning, so y’know, hypocrite.
And if it ended there, it would’ve been great. But here’s the kicker.
One last thing. Please do not reveal the year this season takes place nor the new architectural design of STERLING, COOPER, PRYCE, GARVEY & JAMISON.
Okay, so this is extremely inside baseball, but that is an A+ Mad Men, Matthew Weiner burn. A good natured and fun, for sure, just a little playful ribbing between showrunners, but still great. Weiner waged a near-legendary battle against spoilers when his show was on, which played out in public in the comically vague cable descriptions and teasers that accompanied each episode, but also in private, in letters to critics just like this one. Here’s an old letter Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson dug up:
With that context, this letter is really, really funny. Especially when you consider how bleak and heavy The Leftovers is most of the time. Does that make this the biggest gulf in humor between notes from showrunners and actual product of any show on television? I don’t know. The Leftovers is surprisingly funny at times. Something to discuss, I guess. Probably.