Remember “International Assassin”? This episode of The Leftovers season 2 remains the show’s strongest achievement, a story about grief, suffering, and identity like no other.
In that episode, Justin Theroux gave a tremendous performance as a man intent on taking down Patti Levin and stopping the ghost within his mind. This time around, Kevin Garvey became the President of the United States within this world … and then also his identical twin brother, who was also an assassin desperate to kill him. As if this wasn’t strange enough, there is also a machine that scans a certain part of the male anatomy in order to ensure that the right people enter a secure bunker.
Kevin entered this episode with a set of unique goals as assigned to him by his family. First, he had to track down Evie and Grace’s daughters, a move in order to assign them some element of closure for the darkness within their minds. There was not much of anything within these interactions that spelled that, other than Evie learning that her father loved her, something that she always knew on some level. The only difference here is between love and understanding. John never understood his daughter.
In going back into President Garvey, should it surprise anyone that Patti Levin was the Secretary of Defense? What about seeing the return of Liv Tyler’s Meg as the Vice-President? Meg didn’t last too long, as she was killed off by Assassin Kevin as he worked to achieve the final part of the mission: Finding Christopher Sunday, now the Prime Minister of Australia, in order to get the song needed for Kevin Senior to stop the rain. The problem here was that, in Christopher’s own words, there is no song. Even if there was, why would it really matter given that he doesn’t believe in it?
The big surprise
Who knew that Kevin had such an interest in becoming a romance novelist? Both iterations somehow managed to create a story that was effectively, a part of his own life. The real book of Kevin was a story of cowardice. It was about a man who acted out of fear rather than his own convictions. He didn’t allow himself to open up and show the truth about how he feels about Nora.
Has The Leftovers secretly been a love story this whole time? If nothing else, it’s a story about painful truths and learning to let go. Kevin realized that his love story was in the end a tragic one, and also that he didn’t ever want to venture into this universe again. That meant that President Garvey had to pull out of Assassin Kevin the one thing that kept allowing him to go back — and also the one thing that was going to allow Patti’s plan of ending the entire world to come to fruition. The Assassin was gone, and the President was the only Kevin that was left. He took out his suffering on everyone, and in this world fulfilled his plan. There was no more future, and there was only light.
Kevin finds his way back
Back in Australia, Kevin returns to find himself amidst a church with no walls, and with John sleeping in the corner. He’s made it back with his father sitting on the roof, waiting to know what’s next. Unfortunately, Kevin has no answer for him. It may not be the end of the world for him, but it may as well be. He knows that Nora was the tangible thing that he had (remember the happy bathtub scene at the beginning), and it is now lost.
There was no way that this episode would ever match “International Assassin,” one of the greatest episodes in recent memory. Yet, what it did was fairly outstanding in focusing this broad, intellectual, and crazy show on something so simple: Nora. One person to spend the apocalypse with. Grade: A-.
What’s coming in the series finale?
If you do want to get a little bit more in the way of information on what’s ahead, head over to the link here! (Photo: HBO.)