This The Leftovers review contains spoilers.
The Leftovers Season 2 Episode 7
“This is going to be a hard review to write, buddy.”
That’s what my own little antagonistic Patti Levin voice said as Michael Murphy dragged Kevin’s lifeless body out of Virgil’s trailer, with Virgil’s own dead body looming in the corner, brains on the wall behind him. This scene further adds to the unexpected, epic nature of The Leftovers season 2, and if I wasn’t already hooked, now I’m actively anticipating the next installment, something that would have felt impossible during season one’s interesting, but bleak first outing. I’ve always liked the show, but I never ached for it, like say a Breaking Bad, but right now I could watch the next three episodes all in one sitting.
Is Kevin Garvey dead? Could Damon Lindelof have the balls to dispatch his protagonist in such a controversial manner or is this just another Jon Snow? Personally, I don’t think that he is, or maybe that’s just what I’m hoping. I’m expecting Kevin to return, and even Virgil as well. Gunshots couldn’t kill Virgil in his past when John shot him and was sent to jail as a result and Virgil did say that Kevin would need a guide once he crossed over, so of course he would need to kill himself as well to serve that role. Also, had the episode ended with Kevin convulsing on the floor alone, I might feel different, but the inclusion of Michael shows that there’s more at play here.
Basically, this episode’s main dilemma sums up a lot of Leftovers stories; it’s practicality vs. mysticism. When tragedy strikes, there are those pragmatists that force themselves to confront their issues with real-world solutions and then there are those that throw up their hands and surrender to a higher power. Laurie reappears in this episode as a voice of reason. She tells Kevin that he’s having a psychotic break, that there is no Patti, and that medication and treatment are the only things that can help him overcome his hallucinations. All of that might be true, but for Kevin, it’s easier to go along with the supernatural than accept that he’s crazy.
The best part about The Leftovers is that it’s never decides which of these ways of thinking is superior. Holy Wayne was presented to us as both an inexplicable power and a scheming con man, the Guilty Remnant was a silly cult and also a means of coping, and Miracle is “saved” until three girls disappear and then it isn’t. It all comes back to “letting the mystery be,” not coming to conclusions and taking everything as it comes. Even if Kevin isn’t dead, things are going to be tough if he comes back. Jill is not going to take kindly to being left with Laurie, Nora is still gone, and John now has the handprint that connects Kevin to Evie’s disappearance. These are real world problems that don’t have a magical fix.
The performances in this episode are just fantastic. Justin Theroux doesn’t get enough credit for playing Kevin, but he’s so believably unhinged and exhausted. Kevin has always had an edge to him, but here the edge is gone, just look at the way he exasperatedly asks for help and how he just surrenders himself to the whim’s of a man he doesn’t know. Margaret Qualley deserves a shout out too, showing the pain that older children go through when their parents are noticeably unstable and constantly pushing other people in their lives away. She doesn’t have the choice to leave like Nora, she has to stick it out with her Dad, and as she points out, “this is twice now.”
There’s much that’s left to be discovered this season and with just three episodes left, I’d expect the coming episodes to match this one in terms of intensity. Last year, The Leftovers solidified itself as a drama to watch in its last two episodes, so perhaps they’ll repeat the trend and knock us out with the last two hours once again. I expect a lot of things, but answers aren’t one of them, and somehow I’m ok with that.