In ‘The Leftovers’ recap, Kevin travels back to purgatory with a mission to stop the end of the world…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
It all comes down to this.
Next week ‘The Leftovers’ will wrap up three season on HBO with the last episode and the show has given us a clear indication of how things will end but it really has nothing to do with the Sudden Departure outside of how the characters on the series reacted after such a catastrophic event.
Kevin Garvey — the centerpiece of ‘The Leftovers’ since day one — is on a mission to reconnect with the woman he loves after being too cowardly to stand by her side when things started to fall apart. It’s a recurring theme with Kevin because the exact same thing happened with his first marriage when he tried to implode it all by cheating on his wife only to have the woman he was sleeping with disappear during the departure.
This week in the penultimate episode, Kevin traveled back to the purgatory world for the third time in an attempt to collect a song from Christopher Sunday that would supposedly help to stop the oncoming apocalypse. Kevin was also traveling to the other side to deliver messages to the dearly departed for his friend John and the Australian lady who killed a local chief of police thinking he was the deity in charge rather than the cop who happened to be visiting from the United States.
Of course this entire mission ended with a much more personal story unfolding for Kevin before he returned to the real world where everything was still standing despite his father’s promise that it was all about to be washed away in a great flood.
With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘The Leftovers’ titled ‘The Most Powerful Man in the World (And His Identical Twin Brother)’….
The International Assassin Part 2
Kevin dreams of a day he spent with Nora in happier times when they shared a bath together while baby Lily slept in another room nearby. The two of them sudsed it up while conversing about how they would deal with their bodies after they were gone, implying that they would be together from now until death. Nora wanted to be cremated while Kevin insisted on being stuffed — you know like taxidermy. It’s here that Nora gave him the idea to grow out a beard because if she’s going to have sex with this grotesque mannequin then she wants it to look as good as possible.
A moment later we see Kevin’s father waking up from his drug induced slumber thanks to Laurie dosing everybody at dinner the night before. When Kevin Sr. realizes that they’ve slept through to the next day — the seventh anniversary of the Sudden Departure — he knows time is running out to stop the apocalypse. At first, Kevin Sr. believes that his son has bolted on them and given up on his responsibilities as savior. Instead, Kevin Sr. finds Kevin Jr. already dunked into the water on Grace’s teeter-totter of death, drowning himself to complete the mission with which he was tasked.
Kevin Sr. pulls him out and Kevin Jr. spits up water, breathing back to life while wondering why they just dragged him out of the near abyss where he would visit the purgatory world where all the dead people go. Kevin Sr. has no better excuse than to say he wanted to share this moment with his son before Kevin Jr. once again relays his mission on the other side.
He needs to track down Evie Murphy and tell her that she was loved. He needs to track down Grace’s children and ask where their shoes are hidden. Finally and most importantly, Kevin has to find Christopher Sunday and get the final aboriginal song from him so Kevin Sr. can sing it and stop the oncoming flood that will destroy the world.
Makes total sense, right?
Kevin gets strapped back down onto the board before he is dunked back under and his lungs fill up with water. When he awakens, Kevin is naked on a beach — rather than a bathtub from his previous travels to this same world — and he’s greeted by a rather large Russian assassin tasked to kill him. Thankfully a sniper takes out the Russian to save Kevin’s life and that’s when we are reunited with Dean — the dog killing crazy who died earlier this season when he was trying to get Kevin to go along with his plan that animals were morphing into humans and then being placed into powerful positions in government.
Dean explains to Kevin, who has no beard as of now, that he’s an assassin tasked with killing the President of the United States, who plans to unleash an unsanctioned nuclear attack on Russia that will bring about the end of the world. Dean implores Kevin not to look into any reflective surfaces before connecting him to the boss of this whole outfit so he can ask some necessary questions about the mission.
The boss in this case is David Burton aka God from that boat bound for Australia aka the man on the bridge who led Kevin to murder Patti Levin in his last trip to the other side aka the man leading the karaoke bar when Kevin revisited the world a second time and had to sing “Homeward Bound” by Simon and Garfunkel to escape.
Burton asks Kevin if he remembers what he whispered in his ear when they had their first encounter on that bridge.
“You said I was the most powerful man in the world”
“Goddamn right you are”
Burton tells Kevin to look into the mirror — the one thing he was specifically told not to do — so he can get where he’s going. When Kevin stares into the reflective glass, he sees himself on the other side except it’s the version from this season where he’s got a beard. A second later, Kevin has suddenly transported into the other version of himself from this reality. This Kevin is the President of the United States of America and he’s about to give an important speech.
It seems Kevin is not only President, but he’s a version of himself who has adopted all the thoughts and ideals of the Guilty Remnant. He’s outlawed marriage because it’s an archaic tool meant to control people and he’s instilled all sorts of other wacky plans in an effort to destroy the idea of family all together. He even reads a speech that sounds identical to the one Patti Levin practiced when he visited purgatory previously and had to stop her from assuming power. It seems he failed except now Kevin is the President spouting off this radical ideology.
During his speech, Kevin runs into Liam — one of Grace’s children, who is there to read an essay on how he doesn’t need mommy or daddy in his life. Kevin realizes this is his moment to quiz the child, who isn’t wearing any shoes, so he can complete one plank of his mission. Unfortunately the kid has no idea what happened to his shoes.
A moment later, Evie pops up in the crowd singing “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain and Tenille while wearing a shirt that says “I Remember” before the crowd is dispersed and Kevin is rushed away to his awaiting limousine. Before he goes, Kevin tells his lead bodyguard — played by the other Kevin from Australia who was accidentally murdered — to retrieve Evie from the crowd and put her in the car with him.
In the car, Kevin passes along the message from John to Evie, even though this incarnation is the exact opposite of the one from his world. In this reality, Evie is speaking out against the ideals of the Guilty Remnant and she’s against the President because he ordered a drone strike that killed her entire family. In other words exactly the opposite of what happened in the real world when a drone strike wiped out the members of the Guilty Remnant who had invaded Jarden, Texas.
As Kevin is talking to Evie, he begins spouting up water uncontrollably before he finally wakes up back in the real world after his father, John and Michael pulled him from the murky water. They all got scared that he wasn’t going to come back so they pulled him out too soon. Kevin tells John and Grace that he passed along their messages but he didn’t have a chance to get to Christopher Sunday yet.
Back inside the house, John, Michael and Grace seem satisfied and would prefer not to put Kevin in danger again, but his father knows this can’t be the end. So the two of them go into the bathroom, lock the door and Kevin Sr. holds his son underwater until he crosses back over into purgatory again.
The End of the World As We Know It
When Kevin arrives back into the other world, he’s standing at the bunker where he’s expected to launch a counter attack after learning that a Ukrainian submarine has gone rogue and has control of a nuclear arsenal. After going through a series of exhaustive tests including a penis scan and answering three questions — including finding out that his father film is ‘Godfather 2’ — Kevin makes it into the bunker where he’s reunited with his Secretary of Defense — none other than Patti Levin.
Kevin insists that he needs to speak to Christopher Sunday, who in this world is the Prime Minister of Australia, but Patti is much more concerned about raising the threat level to DEFCON 1 so they can arm the nuclear weapons to fire back at Russia.
Before Patti can get the President to do anything, his vice president shows up to offer him a warning. The vice president is Meg — the former leader of the Guilty Remnant — who is now crossed over into this world after she was incinerated as part of that drone strike on Jarden, Texas. Meg tells Kevin that everything he’s being told is a lie. The Ukrainians don’t have control of a nuclear sub and this is all an elaborate rouse set up by Patti so he’ll launch missiles at Russia and then they’ll counter attack.
Patti finally comes clean by admitted that’s exactly what she wants. This is a planned Armageddon because the seventh anniversary of the Sudden Departure is coming soon and the world expects something terrible to happen. Since nothing is actually going to happen, Patti has put forth a plan to guarantee it all comes to an end.
“It’s the seventh anniversary of the Departure and there is reasonable expectation out there that the world’s gonna end. So we’re going to fire our nukes at the Russians and then they’re going to retaliate and then that’s it. We’re all torched. No one wakes up tomorrow disappointed that nothing fucking happened. We give the people what they’re too chicken shit to do themselves.”
Meg then questions the president about the Fisher Protocol — a safety measure put in place where the other key for the nuclear football is surgically implanted into a volunteer and the President has to kill him to get it out, thus proving he’s really ready to launch the weapons. That’s when Kevin remembers that his other self — the twin brother who is an assassin — had a scar on his chest. Kevin knows that he has to kill himself if he wants to launch this attack.
Meg leaves and Kevin finally agrees to move the threat level to DEFCON 1 so he can make his call to Christopher Sunday but then the truth comes out. Patti lied because an order to DEFCON 1 means that the entire building is on lockdown and he can’t call out to anyone.
In a panic, Kevin grabs Patti’s glasses and looks through the reflection before transporting himself back into the other version of himself stationed outside the bunker with a sniper rifle. He’s going to complete this mission one way or another.
All For Her
Kevin the assassin makes his way into the building where he meets the sleeper agent that God/David Burton had planted inside. It’s Meg Abbott, the vice president, and she helps Kevin kill the security detail before rushing him inside. Of course, Kevin is more concerned about making this call to Christopher Sunday but he questions Meg about why she’s changed from her belief in the Guilty Remnant to now as she’s trying to stop the apocalypse from happening. Meg explains that she fell in love with God — the man on the other end of his earpiece — and that’s when Kevin has heard enough. He shoots her dead and drops the earpiece out of his ear before going to the communications room.
Kevin finally connects with Christopher Sunday where he asks him about the final song that will stop the rain to prevent the flood that will destroy the world. That’s when Christopher explains that there is no song to stop the rain and he told Kevin Sr. that on the other side. He then asks Kevin if he truly believes that a song could stop a flood meant to destroy the entire world. Kevin answers no so Christopher wonders what he’s doing here in the first place?
See, Kevin has spent the better part of three seasons being the man everyone else wanted him to be. This season he even accepted his role as savior after battling against Matt Jamison when he suggested such a thing in the first episode. Kevin is realizing that no song is going to stop the apocalypse and that’s assuming that a flood is actually going to wipe out the world in the first place. Remember what Patti said — on the seventh anniversary of the Sudden Departure, everyone will just believe the world is going to end. In reality, nothing is going to happen so she’s taking that choice away from them.
Kevin is then captured and brought into the bunker where he comes face to face with his twin, who is the President of the United States. Patti tells the President he needs to kill his brother, retrieve the key and then launch the nukes so they can destroy the world. Of course, Kevin the assassin counters that he didn’t come there to hand over the key but instead wanted to kill his twin brother to stop this planned apocalypse. Patti then wonders if Kevin the assassin knew that the key inside his chest was the only way to launch the weapons, why did he come here in the first place?
Patti believes that Kevin — both of them — want this to happen and that’s why they both ended up here.
When they protest, Patti breaks out her final weapon — an untitled romantic novel that Kevin has been working on lately. The book looks just like the one Matt Jamison wrote except this version is by Kevin and he reads the last page of the novel out loud so everyone can hear.
The passage reads like a cryptic version of Kevin’s own life from Mapleton until now. The long and short of the story is that Kevin was too much of a coward to stick by Nora through thick and thin and he’d rather travel over to this alternate reality where he could run away from all his problems in the real world. Kevin pretended to be an important man but really he was just a coward. He should have stayed by Nora but instead he ran away to stop the apocalypse, which wasn’t actually happening anyways.
Finally, Kevin the President and Kevin the assassin agree that it’s time to put an end to all of this. Kevin cuts open his other self, digs out the key — all set to a soundtrack provided by “God Only Knows’ by the Beach Boys. Finally, Kevin (the assassin) admits the hard truth.
“We fucked up with Nora”
Kevin pulls the key out of his chest before placing it into the nuclear suitcase to launch the weapons. He then goes hand-in-hand with Patti out to watch the bombs explode. Kevin has finally said goodbye to this purgatory. Earlier in the episode, Kevin insisted that he needed to go home but Patti then wondered if that’s really what he wanted why does he always end up back here? Kevin has finally made a conscious decision to destroy this place and face reality. A reality where he’s in love with a woman named Nora in a world where two percent of the world’s population disappeared seven years ago with no explanation yet somehow there’s no deeper meaning to any of it.
After the bombs explode, Kevin wakes back up at Grace’s ranch and surprise — the world didn’t end after all. John and Michael are asleep and Kevin sees his father sitting on top of the roof. Kevin joins him there and Kevin Sr explains how he went up there when the rain started coming down so hard that it scared him. Eventually, the rain stopped and the waters receded, which was just proof that there was no apocalypse coming on the seventh anniversary of the Sudden Departure. It was just a storm like any other storm.
In truth, what I believe ‘The Leftovers’ just unveiled over the course of this episode is that for all the questions and all the mysticism that has surrounded this show for three seasons, what we finally discovered is that a bad thing happened with no explanation but that doesn’t mean the world is going to end much less that we should seek out that ending. The Sudden Departure blinked out two-percent of the world’s population without explanation and everybody — from Kevin to Matt to Nora to Kevin’s father — have spent the last seven years trying to understand why it happened and what it meant for the future.
The reality is there’s no reason behind it.
It just happened and everyone would have been better off just moving on with their lives rather than dwelling on the past or waiting for disaster to strike in the future. Just like Patti warned — everybody was expecting the world to end so she had to give it a push with those nuclear bombs going off. In reality, nothing was going to happen because the Sudden Departure was just a random event of chaos and there will never be an explanation as to why it happened but it certainly doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again.
Now Kevin is awake for the first time since that fateful day seven years ago and he’s got to go see about a girl.
‘The Leftovers’ series finale airs next Sunday night at 9pm ET on HBO.