If you just watched episode 4 of Season 2 of “The Leftovers,” you’ve probably got a lot of questions. Plotlines were advanced, new mysteries sprung up and one major character was even shot.
You also just saw a heck of a performance from stage veteran Kevin Carroll, a strong addition to the new season as desperate, distrusting neighbor John Murphy. To help keep fans on track, Carroll was eager to walk Zap2it through the episode entitled “Orange Sticker.”
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
“There’s nothing more dangerous,” says Isaac (Darius McCrary), “than a man who don’t believe in nothing.” And according to Carroll, that statement can refer to both John and Kevin Garvey, who spend much of the episode as a two-person vigilante team.
“We’re still on the journey of discovering what John’s beliefs are,” Carroll explains. “The Murphy family live in a safe place. There are no departures from here yet, but John realizes nobody is perfect; he knows that even though there have been no departures, everything is not well in Miracle.”
“John is skeptical about religion, but he does have a curiosity to understand how the world works,” says the actor. “He knows [departures] can happen to people. I don’t know if that means he’s spiritual, but not religious. If John can’t see it, it’s hard for him to buy into it. But the notion that John would even consider buying into what Isaac told him, that we see him consider putting his hand in that garbage disposal, or eating the pie — now there are considerations. John is becoming torn with the idea of spirituality.”
Unfortunately, this move towards the acknowledgement of spirituality manifests itself in wanting to destroy the man who tried to warn him. “I absolutely love the notion of Kevin trying to work it out and get to a place where he can make sense of what happened,” Carroll says of the two men driving around in the truck together. “While John is simultaneously being thrown in the absolute wrong direction, and is now going to settle a wrong with someone who has nothing to do with anything.”
Carroll says that ultimately the episode is about two men who have a lot in common, including their sense of helplessness. “You decide as a father, as a protector, as a head of household, where and how you’re going to live in the world and approach the world,” Carroll says of the decisions that fuel Kevin and John. “Right or wrongly, they have made some decisions on the way they’re going to participate in the world. And therein lies the rub.”
For much of the episode, you’re not sure whether Murphy is Kevin’s new best friend, or whether he’s going to try to kill him. “Kevin is holding a secret,” Carroll says of his near-drowning the night Murphy’s daughter vanished. “He’s not being forthcoming with information, and for good reason. These two, they know each other. But Kevin also knows he’s dealing with a huge problem in his own life that he hasn’t been able to solve yet. We know Kevin has an issue with the sleepwalking.”
“When there’s a problem, everybody looks at dad to solve it,” he says of their similarities as heads of a household. “Some dads realize they can’t solve it, others try to solve it, maybe to their detriment.”
And although John will survive his gunshot wound, Murphy says that his mental state is still quite wounded. “As any father would know, the loss of a child would be devastating. So what we have is John on a dire search for his daughter,” Carroll says. “All he knows is that Isaac told him something bad would happen to him. Isaac is a friend he’s known since the 3rd grade, and he claims he can tell people their future; John doesn’t necessarily believe in that. Since John went and burned down his house for selling a bill of bad goods to people, he thinks Isaac has something to do with Evie missing. He recruits Kevin to tag along, convinced he’s going to settle this problem and do it his way — John’s way.”
Where do things go from here? Carroll says he enjoyed last week’s episode that focused on the Guilty Remnant, and hopes that eventually his storyline will cross with Amy Brenneman, Liv Tyler and those other actors.
“However the opportunity plays out to make it the most interesting show, that’s what I’m hoping happens,” he says before conceding: “I’ll run through some scenarios that I think would be interesting [to get us all together], but that’s better served leaving it in the writer’s hands and letting them go nuts. I certainly hope we all end up getting to play with and off each other. Because I love watching them.”
“To be able to inhabit a whole person in this kind of world is such a gift to me as an actor,” Carroll says of his experience thus far on the show. “I’m hoping these stories weave, intersect and come together.”