“The Leftovers” may not premiere until April 16, but critics just received screeners for not one, not two, but seven of the eight total episodes in Season 3. And if you think I’m not racing home to watch them right now, well, you’re right — but only because Damon Lindelof asked me not to.
In a letter accompanying the screeners, Lindelof politely made his case against bingeing, starting off by saying, “Bingeing is bad,” and then invoking everything from fake spoilers — “Liv Tyler shoots lasers out of her eyes in Episode 4” — to over-indulging on Pringles as reasons not to plow through all seven episodes of “The Leftovers'” final season.
It’s not uncommon for showrunners to pen letters to critics before a new season. Often, we receive them accompanying the episodes for consideration, and they provide a brief introduction or polite framing of what’s to come. With highly anticipated shows, we’re regularly asked to avoid spoiling big twists. (Sometimes the specific twists are even listed in the letter, thus spoiling them for the critics so we do not spoil them for fans. T’is the cross we bear.)
But Lindelof’s message stood out not only because of his plea for an “old school” approach to watching TV and the well-placed humor accompanying it, but also because of his final statement:
“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.”
Read the entire letter below, and then decide for yourself, dear reader, how you choose to consume “The Leftovers” when Season 3 premieres April 16. To wait and binge, or to consume once a week — that is the question.
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.
One last thing. Please do not reveal the year this season takes place nor the new architectural design of STERLING, COOPER, PRYCE, GARVEY & JAMISON.