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"Axis Mundi" is the first episode of Season 2, and overall the eleventh produced hour of The Leftovers. It originally aired on October 4, 2015.

Analysis Edit

Recurring Themes Edit

  • Animals: The Woman sees a hawk multiple times: right before the earthquake/rockslide that kills her tribe and destroys her cave, as she holds her newborn (inspiring her to try to steal eggs from the hawk’s nest), and as she lays dying holding her baby. As she robs the hawk’s nest, a snake attacks the Woman’s baby and bites the Woman, ultimately killing her. John repeatedly searches for a cricket in the Murphy house; in the episode’s final scene, the cricket chirps again following Evie’s seeming departure. Erika retrieves a bird buried in a box during her run. Jerry sacrifices a goat in the diner.
  • The Bible: Michael reads from 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15 in church. Banners in the church quote Ecclesiasticus 39:22 and Acts 8:38, both notably referencing water, given the episode’s ending.
  • National Geographic: The Garveys move to a national park. The cover story of the May 1972 National Geographic is about the 100 year anniversary of the world’s first national park, Yellowstone.

Cultural References Edit

Trivia Edit

  • The concept of Miracle originated in the first season, when the writers planned to have Tom and Christine visit a town where no one had departed during their road trip. However, Tom and Christine’s storyline became less of a focus as the season progressed, and that story was dropped.[5][6]
  • Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta had not discussed any ideas about season 2 when they accepted HBO’s pickup for a second season, as Lindelof’s experience on Lost made him insistent on focusing only on the season at hand during production of season 1. When they began discussing the  second season, they realized that Nora’s letter about her reasons for leaving town in the first season finale still applied despite finding the baby, so they decided to move the characters to a new locale. That then connected to the idea of a town where no one departed.[5][6]
  • Another shift in season 2 was the decision, influenced by the positive reception of the Matt and Nora POV episodes in season 1, to limit the number of POV characters in any given episode, providing greater focus in the storytelling.[5]
  • The title is Latin for “world axis.” It refers to the concept of a geographical point where heaven and Earth meet. This is presumably how many people in the show’s world view Jarden.
  • The opening cavewoman sequence was inspired by ideas from consulting producer / religious expert Reza Aslan, including him saying that the earliest religions were people in caves looking up at birds in the sky.[7]
  • Damon Lindelof has also joked that the opening cavewoman sequence was designed to "piss off" television critic Andy Greenwald, who notoriously hated the first season of the show.[8] [9] Greenwald did indeed dislike the opening sequence, but went on to praise the remainder of seasons 2 and 3.[10][11]
  • In tongue in cheek fashion, the script for this episode starts, "And so, let us begin in the most obvious place to begin -- INT. CAVE - NIGHT (N1)."[12] Tom Perrotta jokingly referred to the sequence as "Previously, on The Leftovers," and the writers also called the sequence, "Previously, on Earth."[9][13][14]
  • Tourist/souvenir stands in Miracle include Audio Tours, Miracle Bees, God’s Path (with Christian memorabilia), Miracle Tobacco, and Sacred Mission Baptist Church.
  • Michael’s stand is number 121. In “Guest,” the DSD is concerned because Nora has a 100% positive response to question 121.
  • Isaac’s house number is 711.
  • Darius McCrary, who plays Isaac, is arguably best known for playing Eddie Winslow on the sitcom Family Matters, which began as a spinoff of Perfect Strangers.
  • The DVD/Blu Ray box depicts a still that might be a deleted scene from this episode, showing Isaac in his living room holding a white object (possibly a rolled-up piece of paper) as white smoke rises. This does not appear to be from the scene when John burns his house down, as daylight is seen through the window.
  • Mark Linn-Baker auditioned to play Nora's DSD supervisor in "Guest," but was rejected because the writers had already determined that the departure of the real-world Linn-Baker and his cast-mates would be a plot point.[15][16]
  • The Loved Ones commercial from “Two Boats and a Helicopter” is heard again.
  • The DSD seal seen posted on the Garveys’ new house says “Manus dei,” Latin for “hand of God,” reflecting the breakdown between government and religion that was first hinted at in the Pilot
  • Kevin brings Heisenbrau Lager to the Murphys’, the same beer he buys in “Gladys.”
  • The song playing in the girls' car after their seeming departure has apparently never been released. Songwriter Jonny Pakfar is credited on IMDb with writing the song, entitled "C'est La Vie," and it has apparently also appeared on several other series. When the song appeared on the series Are You the One?, MTV credited the track to Shane Eli & Campfire, and critic Alan Sepinwall also attributed the track to Campfire in his review of this episode.

Book to Show Edit

  • The new main titles are reminiscent of the G.R.’s Christmas Day PowerPoint presentation in the book, in which Departed individuals have been “clumsily deleted” from photos, leaving a “pale gray blob.”
  • Jerry’s goat-killing ritual is inspired by a passage in the book that describes Nora passing a man ritualistically slicing a sheep’s throat during a “long, slightly freaky” stretch of her regular biking trail.
  • The baby being named Lily is reminiscent of Tom telling Christine to name her after “a flower or a bird or a month.”
  • Erika asks John if their new neighbors eat meat. In the book, Nora in fact does not eat meat; however, this does not seem to be the case in the show. She is seen with meat on her plate in several episodes (including this one), and she eats what appears to be a corn dog in "Don't Be Ridiculous."

Music Edit

  • "Let the Mystery Be" by Iris DeMent (main title; first appearance of new opening song)
  • La Traviata: Prelude to Act 1 composed by Giuseppe Verdi, performed by Bonn Classical Philharmonic & Heribert Beissel (the Woman gives birth)
  • "Departure (Reflection)" by Max Richter (the Woman dies; another woman takes her baby)
  • "Don't Worry" by Justine Skye (Evie and friends jump in the water)
  • "Loco Ono (Bassnectar & Stylust Beats Remix)" by Bassnectar (the girls say goodbye to Dr. Goodheart)
  • "Get on Up Mama" by the Sensations (playing in the Murphys' kitchen when Evie first arrives home)
  • "Miracle Anthem" by Jasmin Savoy Brown & cast (Evie and the choir sing)
  • "A Bird in a Box" by Max Richter (Michael rides his bike to town; Erika digs up the bird)
  • "Rockin' in the Same Old Boat" by Bobby "Blue" Band (plays at John's birthday party)
  • "Pop Off" by Foolish (ft. Icy Black & Mr. Mossberg) (in the car as Evie and friends drive away after the party)
  • "C'est La Vie" by Shane Eli & Campfire (the girls' car after their disappearance)
  • "Let Tomorrow Be" by Fern Jones (end credits)

References Edit

  1. Pilot Audio Commentary
  2. https://uproxx.com/sepinwall/the-leftovers-creators-damon-lindelof-tom-perrotta-on-their-dark-mysterious-hbo-series/
  3. https://uproxx.com/sepinwall/the-leftovers-finale-damon-lindelof-recap-review/6/
  4. https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/tv/ct-the-leftovers-damon-lindelof-20151130-story.html
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 https://uproxx.com/sepinwall/damon-lindelof-i-was-really-depressed-writing-leftovers-season-1/
  6. 6.0 6.1 http://www.watchingtheleftovers.com/blog/2015/9/30/co-creators-damon-lindelof-tom-perrotta-discuss-season-2
  7. https://variety.com/2015/tv/news/leftovers-season-2-finale-damon-lindelof-cavewoman-scene-1201649945/
  8. https://www.vulture.com/2017/05/leftovers-episode-inspired-by-matt-zoller-seitz.html
  9. 9.0 9.1 https://www.vulture.com/2015/10/leftovers-season-two-opening-scene-damon-lindelof.html
  10. https://grantland.com/hollywood-prospectus/the-leftovers-returns-for-its-second-season-much-improved-but-still-maddening/
  11. https://twitter.com/andygreenwald/status/940323136381190144
  12. http://www.watchingtheleftovers.com/blog/the-end-is-near-marathon-10-days-until-season-3
  13. https://deadline.com/2017/06/the-leftovers-damon-lindelof-tom-perrotta-emmys-interview-news-1202116225/
  14. https://deadline.com/2017/06/the-leftovers-damon-lindelof-tom-perrotta-emmys-interview-news-1202116225/
  15. https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/04/the-leftovers-mark-linn-baker-interview
  16. https://www.vulture.com/2014/07/leftovers-raptured-perfect-strangers-balki-cousin-larry.html
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