Damon Lindelof Says 'The Leftovers' Season Three Is "Going To Be Something Else Entirely"

After some fans worried season two was the end of The Leftovers, HBO gave them an early Christmas gift by renewing the drama for season three. The Leftovers finale ended on a poignant and satisfying note, but there's still plenty left to explore in this world, and showrunner Damon Lindelof and all involved are getting another chance to return to these characters.

After the jump, read Lindelof's comments on The Leftovers season three. (Beware spoilers for the first two seasons.)

If HBO didn't renew The Leftovers season three, the show would've had an ending; it wouldn't have been Carnivále all over again. The show, based on Tom Perrotta's book, had closure, for both the characters and Jarden, Texas. Not all questions were answered, but on a show like The Leftovers, that's okay — and kind of a part of the point. Speaking with Lindelof, he told us he never thought of the season two finale as a potential ending:

I'll be honest with you, that idea — this could be the end — was never articulated. I think we want to design every season of The Leftovers as a novel, as opposed to a piece in a trilogy. After the first season ended, I really felt like that was it. I thought, Okay, we've now adapted Tom's novel, and we ended it the exact same way Tom's novel did. I kind of get the sense that Nora is there, holding the baby in her arms, and Laurie is probably going to leave the Guilty Remnant, even if that's not definitive, and, at the very least, she's reunited with Tom, and Kevin has saved Jill's life. Kevin and Jill are all there, smiling, staring at Nora and the baby, and I could extrapolate what happens next, and I was cool with that being the ending. All these characters were in turmoil when I first met them, but now they've found each other.

There's more pressure on season three compared to season one and two. Not only because it's the final chapter, but because last season raised the bar so high. Lindelof is very aware of these expectations:

When the finale aired I started getting even positive reviews saying, 'I don't want there to be anymore.' I thought, Oh, shitbut I kind of do want there to be one more season. I have to look under the hood of what they're saying and translate it and accept it at its most base ideology: you're going to undo this season by doing a season that's not as good. It's sort of, like, why push your luck? That's not the way I look at it. Am I still compelled to tell stories in this world about these people? Yes, and that's why it was important when HBO called and said they wanted to pick up the show for a third season, I said, 'We should also announce this is going to be the last season.' HBO was like, 'Let's keep it open. We don't have to do that.' I said, 'I think it's important that we do. The critical community — and that's the voice of the audience I keep hearing, because I'm not on Twitter or in people's living rooms — has done a good job voicing what the audience is thinking. If the critical audience is thinking season two is enough, then if we're going to do more, we're not going to do much more.'

The ball is just beginning to roll on season three, so obviously Lindelof can't say too much about the future end of the show, but he knows The Leftovers can't repeat itself:

The big thing we gotta figure out for season three is: Where are we going to end it? What's the last episode of this series going to be? We'll design the entire season basically building up to that moment. I think there was a very purposeful circularity between seasons one and two, with the 'wherever you go, there you are' theme of it all. We decided to end the second season very similar to the first season. The Garveys felt like they could pickup and go to this place the Departure didn't happen, but lo and behold, the same exact thing happened. The only safe place is the place you're surrounded by the people you love. We can't do that again, and not just because the audience is expecting it, but because we were telling a story about geography in season two, while season three is going to be something else entirely.

Lindelof treats the show like a novel, with each chapter affording him and his collaborators new places to go. He has the option to throw out the formula and revamp The Leftovers. Season two went through some changes, and it all worked out for the best.