Damon Lindelof has had a turbulent online relationship with critics of his TV shows, eventually quitting Twitter entirely after deciding that engaging with his haters was “unhealthy.” But that doesn’t mean he’s entirely given up on trying to control the narrative around his shows. HBO today sent seven of the eight episodes in The Leftovers’ third and final season to critics, but that release was preceed by a note from Lindelof asking them to not rush through all seven back to back, and a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement that he might be micromanaging their release just a tad.
Lindelof’s missive, which is reprinted in full below, also tweaks the famously controlling letters sent out with screeners by Mad Men’s Matthew Weiner, which enjoined critics from revealing even the most minute details of his season premieres—by Mad Men’s final seasons, all that Weiner would allow anyone to see in advance. The Leftovers has done exceptionally well by critics, who have played a significant role in keeping the low-rated show alive and giving Lindelof and co. a chance to wrap up their story as they see fit—and Lindelof knows and is grateful for, that. But he’s still not going to send his baby out into the world without at least a note pinned to its backpack, and if anyone starts tweeting opinions on The Leftovers’ endgame seven hours from now, they can expect to hear from him again.
Here’s the letter.
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.