The Leftovers Recap ‘Axis Mundi’: Heaven and Hell on Earth

In The Leftovers recap for the season two premiere, the Murphys from Miracle, Texas take center stage before the Garveys move to town…

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

The Leftovers is a show riddled with symbolism and the interpretation of those symbols is just a small part of the reason this was one of the most captivating new series in 2014. The show returned on Sunday night with a new location, a seemingly more upbeat feel although tinged with something sinister from underneath and a whole lot of new characters.

Before the new season really got underway, we first had to go through a history lesson of the spot on the mat that Miracle, Texas now occupies.

Miracle was once called Jerdan, Texas but the special thing about this place is the 9,261 people who lived there before the Great Departure are the same 9,261 people living there today. When two-percent of the world disappeared, this place was left untouched but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t soaked in tragedy as we saw at the open of this episode.

A cave woman was laying by a fire with her fellow tribesmen when she had to go to the bathroom. As soon as she stood up it was clear she was with child and after squatting on the rocks outside the cave, a great earthquake rumbled through the area and when the woman looked back at her dwelling, rocks had fallen and the entire place was sealed off tight and her tribe was dead.

Moments later she goes into labor and has her baby.

For the next few weeks, this new mother cares for her baby all alone with no one around to support her, but she finally spots a cascade of smoke coming from behind some trees and she decides to investigate to see if this is another settlement she could possibly join or at least help her with the baby. Unfortunately while she stops to get some food, a rattlesnake crawls over her baby’s bod and the mother fiercely protects her child by smashing the reptile against a tree but not before she took a nasty bite to the arm.

Days later, the mother lays on the ground with her arm infected and the poison has taken hold. She passes away with the baby still nestled in her breast until another woman shows up from out of nowhere, picks the baby up and carries it away.

So what’s the meaning to this story? Well it’s The Leftovers so really who knows but with the episode this week titled ‘Axis Mundi’, which is interpreted to be the ‘center of the world’ or the spot connecting heaven and Earth, it seems like this woman’s death is just an earlier version of what’s happening in Miracle today.

She just happened to escape the cave moments before an earthquake killed everybody inside and a few minutes later she gave birth to her baby. Then again the miracle that her baby was born might have robbed some celestial deity of a soul they were supposed to own so the numbers were evened out again when the woman died on the same rocks where she gave birth.

Either way fast forward thousands upon thousands of years later and that same area is still producing miracles and possibly deaths as we witnessed in the debut episode of The Leftovers season 2…

Who Are the Murphys?

3.Erika and John VR

 

The show has shifted this season from fictional Mapleton, New York to even more fictional Miracle, Texas — a town that boasts no departures but a national park theme where busloads of tourists are shipped in daily to partake in the place where no one was taken. People can buy any number of souvenirs, shirts, and even water that was bottled inside Miracle at the same spring we first saw at the opening of the episode.

Miracle is the kind of place where you make a home for your family and a crazy man will walk into a diner with a live goat, slit his throat on a piece of plastic and then drag it back out again and the people eating their patty melt don’t even really blink an eye.

The Murphys take center stage this episode and they all have their own special quirks that make them both special and weird in this new day and age.

The papa of the bunch is John Murphy, who is a volunteer firefighter who actually hunts down frauds across town and then burns their house to the ground rather than save them. The latest this episode comes from a man named Isaac, who has customer spread their hands in kid’s pain and make a print on a piece of paper. Isaac then reads the paper and gives the person their results. This time, however, he does a reading for Tom and the result isn’t good — actually it’s quite bad.

Something horrific is going to happen to John and while his paranoia may have gotten the better of him, the elder Murphy takes this as a hoax and the fire department burns the house where Isaac resides to the ground.

John is happy to appease the tourists with a place called Miracle, but from the look of things, he doesn’t want any true believers bilking the customers out of their hard earned money while professing to have some kind of special knowledge about how this place works — it just works.

John’s wife Erika appears to be the prototypical American mom — she cooks breakfast everyday, goes out for a run and even takes time to dig up a bird she buried by a tree. What?!?

Yep, Erika digs up a box with a baby bird inside except when she opens the ribbon tying the thing together, the bird bursts out and flies away. Maybe she buried a dead bird and it came back to life? Or maybe she buried a live bird just to see how long it would fight to stay that way?

The Murphy Kids

7.Michael Murphy VR

 

Michael Murphy is a teenage preacher who sells the ‘holy water’ to the tourists while actually handing out information on the church where he’s serving as a pastor from time to time. He brings food to a man who lives on top of a town marked ‘miracle’ and goes to visit an elderly gentleman living in nothing more than a hovel and it sure seems like he could be an estranged grandfather.

We’ll see how that plays out.

Meanwhile, Evie Murphy is a little bit more of a wildcard.

She likes to go swimming with her friends in the stream where the episode opened while also flirting with a scientist who is taking readings of the water nearby. Evie also sings in choir and suffers from epilepsy while losing her time when it happens and blacking out on what she actually did while going under.

She also likes to occasionally run through the woods naked with her friends and why that’s happening I have absolutely no clue but this is just the first episode of the season so plenty of time to theorize.

Mapleton Comes to Miracle

6.Nora Durst VR

 

At the local church, Michael preaches from the book of Thessalonians with a passage that asks evil not to be paid back with more evil (Thessalonians 5:15 to be exact) while keeping an eye on his father while saying all of this. It’s clear Michael Murphy is aware of what his dad does when he’s going out for service calls and it’s pretty clear he’s not putting out a lot of fires.

This week at church the main pastor is stepping down for a few weeks to travel but he has found a very suitable replacement to hold down the fort while he’s gone — and with that we welcome back Matt Jamison!

Matt moved to Miracle with his wife a few months ago and it seems like Mary is showing some kind of improvement form her vegetative state while being in Miracle, but as soon as he mentions it on the pulpit, the main pastor shuts him down and basically says to save that story for another day.

While Matt and his wife have been in Miracle for a few weeks, the Garvey family has just arrived.

They moved from New York to Texas and before they can even get settled in, John Murphy is at their doorstep. He’s delivering a homemade apple pie, but it wasn’t made in his home. See John woke up that morning and found the very same pie waiting outside his door with no note or indication where it came from. So rather than toss it away as potentially hazardous goods, John saves it for occasions just like this where he can pawn it off as a gift for the neighbors.

John also invites the Garveys over for a barbecue that night and when they arrive, Kevin and Nora are curious where all the other people are? John says bluntly that they have no friends.

The witty banter continues throughout dinner including a look at a cut that Kevin has on his head while John trumps all meal time conversation when he says he was in jail for six year for attempted murder. When Kevin (who was a cop remember) asks him what happened John replies ‘I didn’t try hard enough’.

The Garveys retire home but Evie decides to go out with her friends and her father sets a curfew for 11pm that night. But when 11pm comes and goes and Evie still isn’t in her own bed by 3am, her parents get rather concerned.

John goes searching for his daughter and finally runs into the car driven by her friend earlier that night, but there’s nothing inside except a few cell phones — one of them belonging to Evie — and a whole bunch of locked doors. John screams out for his daughter when Michael notices a very strange anomaly — the stream has completely dried up and the water that’s kept this town afloat for thousands of years is suddenly gone.

And here’s the music for the new intro for The Leftovers season 2 – “Let the Mystery Be” by Iris DeMent

What did you think of The Leftovers season 2 debut? The new episode returns next Sunday night at 9pm on HBO

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