It wasn't a random choice. The '80s-'90s sitcom had been referenced before -- since all four lead actors were said to have Departed in the mysterious Sudden Departure, until it was later revealed that actor Mark-Linn Baker (Cousin Larry) had faked his Departure. This time, HBO show dove deep into that mystery, bringing in Mark Linn-Baker himself for a fantastic, emotional, fully committed guest role. Emmys all around this week, starting with Carrie Coon (Nora Durst), who shared Baker's big hotel room scene.
"The Leftovers" executive producer Damon Lindelof told TVLine the idea to bring in Linn-Baker came from plotting out the idea that Nora learns there's a device that can reunite people with their Departed loved ones. "The idea was so ludicrous, we were like, 'Who should present it to Nora? Maybe the messenger should be as ridiculous as the idea itself?'"
The scene didn't come across as ridiculous, despite the show entering a bizarre pop culture Twilight Zone. Mark and Nora had somewhat similar stories: He felt left behind as the only series regular from "Perfect Strangers" who didn't Depart, and Nora has been struggling to cope with being the only member of her family to not Depart. Nora has it much worse, but they bonded over that anger and the need to take action.
"The Leftovers" fans are quicker to accept the ridiculous than most, and they loved it:
Everybody checking Wikipedia tonight and learning Cousin Larry from Perfect Strangers really does have 2 degrees from Yale. #theleftovers— Denny Watkins (@dennywatkins) April 24, 2017
Only on "The Leftovers" would two grieving mothers therapy-trampoline-jumping to Wu-Tang Clan be the most normal thing to happen all night.
"The Leftovers" Season 3 continues Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.
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