Not a hotel this time, but we traveled with Kevin back to a wider view of the “other place” this week. Apologies for a bloated synopsis this week. The Leftovers 307 lent itself to a farewell tour full of guest appearances atmosphere and the details interested us more this week than usual.
Ago, in Jarden
The episode starts with a beardless Kevin and a longer-haired Nora enjoying a bath together in their home in Jarden. The two engage in a teasing, yet morbid discussion of what should be done with each other’s bodies when they die. Nora would like to be cremated, while Kevin would prefer to be stuffed.
Grace Playford’s Ranch
Kevin takes the initiative in his mission (remember, three of his companions had tasks for him to complete) to the “other place” by dunking himself in the pond. His slumbering support staff of his father, John and Michael Murphy, and Grace Playford, wakes up once Kevin Sr. starts yelling his head off. They rush out and un-dunk Kevin from the pond. After a short review of the mission, everybody decides to dunk him again.
The “Other Place”
A large, Russian wearing a track suit hauls Beardless Kevin out of the ocean, drags him onto a beach, and starts beating him up. A familiarly placed head-shot brings the Russian down and we acquaint ourselves with Dean-the-dog-killer’s “other place” avatar. Here, he’s left catering behind for the fast-paced life of a secret agent. He delivers to Beardless Kevin (Kevin Harvey, here) his mission, a new suit, a radio earpiece, and a warning against being around any reflective surfaces. His mission: assassinate the President of the United States before he blows everything up. When Beardless Kevin puts in his earpiece, we find David Burton/God on the other side and we learn what he whispered into Kevin’s ear last season on the bridge. He told him he was “the most powerful man in the world,” a term often applied to both the President of the United States and Jesus. Despite Dean’s warning against reflective surfaces, Beardless Kevin stares into a shard and his Point-Of-View (POV) transfers.
He transfers into his twin’s body, who also happens to be his target: The President of the United States. While delivering an anti-marriage speech in a Guilty Remnant inspired white suit, President Kevin meets Grace’s kids. None of them know where their shoes are and don’t understand why he’s asking. Evie Murphy breaks up that exchange with her rendition of “Love Will Keep Us Together” over a bullhorn. Her disturbance breaks up the rally at the same time the security team (headed by Australian Chief Kevin played by Damien Garvey(!)) needs to escort President Kevin to a secure location. Kevin insists the team find Evie and the two talk in his Limo.
The “Other Place” grants Evie a “bizarro” version of her life among the living. Instead of membership in the GR, she busts up their rallies. Instead of being killed in a drone strike, she says her family was killed in that way. President Kevin delivers John’s message to Evie, but his friends’ need to revive him in the real world cuts their meeting short.
Back Among the Living
The flood Kevin Sr. predicted begins to cut off Kevin’s supporters’ access to Kevin, so they decide to bring him inside. He tells Grace about seeing her kids before Kevin Sr. sends him back to the “Other Place” via drowning in a tub.
The Secure Location
President Kevin passes both a biometric scan and another scan of dubious legitimacy before gaining entry. Once inside, we learn that Patti Levin has done well for herself in the “Other Place” and has become President Kevin’s Secretary of Defense. Inside the situation room, President Kevin receives the “Nuclear Football” and Patti pushes him to lower the Defense Condition (DEFCON) to confront a pending nuclear threat. Patti places a second mysterious case out of the way. When Kevin asks to talk to Chris Sunday, the Australian PM in the “Other Place”, Patti reveals that she and President Kevin have had a plan to end the world in action for some time and it’s too late to change things.
Vice President Meg breaks up Patti’s exposition and refutes the cover story (Ukrainians with nukes). President Kevin insists Patti tell Meg the plan. She says they will engage with Russia in a scheme of mutually assured destruction to kill everybody on the planet as a way to give the people what they want on the seventh anniversary of the Sudden Departure. Instead of rejecting the plan on any moral stand, Meg brings up the difficulty of the plan thanks to something called the Fisher Protocol. The Fisher Protocol requires the President to retrieve the nuclear launch key from the inside of a volunteer’s body, murdering them in the process. In this case, the volunteer is President Kevin’s twin brother.
At Patti’s insistence, Kevin lowers to DEFCON 1 (enabling the Nuclear Football), thus cutting off the phones in the situation room. This act prevents him from call PM Chris Sunday. Using the reflection in Patti’s glasses, President Kevin transfers his POV.
David Burton\God tells Beardless Kevin to enter the Secure Location, unarmed. As President Kevin’s twin, he passes both the biometric scanner and the less conventional scanner to gain entry. President Kevin’s security team tries to intercept Beardless Kevin, but Vice President Meg comes around the corner and shoots them. Meg updates Beardless Kevin on what’s happening in the situation room, but before taking action, Kevin wants to call PM Chris Sunday. The “Other Place” has also granted Meg a “bizarro” life: she’s not the most devout GR member these days and is in love with God (by which she means David Burton). Upon learning the location of the comms room, Beardless Kevin shoots and kills Vice President Meg. He also decides to complete his mission without the David Burton (voice of God) earpiece.
An Air Force officer makes the connection and leaves the Comms Room. Unlike most people in the “Other Place” Christopher Sunday remembers what went on while he was alive and recalls discussing his song with Kevin Sr. When PM Chris Sunday pushes to know if Beardless Kevin believes in his father’s plan, Kevin reveals his lack of faith in the scheme. When the secret service breaks in, Beardless Kevin uses the reflection in a computer screen to transfer his POV.
President Kevin smashes Patti’s glasses and learns that when he was asked for his Secretary of Defense’s identity earlier, he effectively conjured up Patti into the role. She came as a favor for him having helped her in the past. The secret service brings Beardless Kevin into the situation room in a black bag. Patti un-bags him and initiates the Fisher Protocol. Initially, both Kevins resist the plan. Patti forces both sides of Kevin to confront the truth of their actions and how they contradict what they -say- they want. Then, she brings up the book.
Neither Kevin take responsibility for writing a book, characterized as a romance novel, but Patti produces a secret journal written by President Kevin. It looks like Matt’s book, unburned. Kevin reads the last page for the group. The story tells a tale of a man who fought for a woman’s love, but ultimately leaves her because he fears her and the love she returns to him. Beardless Kevin asks President Kevin to remove the launch key to prevent their ability to return to the “Other Place” (because they will have destroyed it).
President Kevin fishes the lamest looking launch key imaginable out of his split-self’s innards. Before Beardless Kevin dies, both Kevin’s agree that they “effed things up with Nora”.
Without hesitation, President Kevin authorizes nuclear war. Outside, hand-in-hand, Patti and President Kevin watch as the missiles destroy the world.
Kevin awakes in the chapel and finds Michael and John asleep nearby. Going outside, he joins his father sitting atop Grace’s house. After telling Kevin Jr. how he wound up on the roof and why he doesn’t want to leave it, he asks, “Now what?”
“The Other Place”
This is the third time we’ve been to the “Other Place”, but we believe Kevin visits on a regular basis. We believe the episodes of self-asphyxiation using the dry cleaning bags have enabled to move back and forth between our world and the “Other Place”. Several times this episode, characters allude to the frequency of his visits. Once he realizes he’s been using the “Other Place” to escape Nora’s love, he agrees to destroy his access to it.
The addition of Aboriginal history to the story, Christopher Sunday, and the move to Australia all but confirm that the “Other Place” and the Aboriginal concept of Dreamtime are, if not the same place, then they are analogous. Since the two worlds, the Physical and Dreamtime are linked, when Kevin and Patti effectively “reset” Dreamtime with nuclear devastation, they also initiate a new cycle’s beginning in the Physical world. Or, by blowing up the “Other Place”, Kevin stopped the flood and set the physical world on a new cycle.
Christopher Sunday’s role as Australian PM interests us as another embodiment of the “bizarro” effect in the “Other Place”. In the Physical World, he lived in poverty. In the “Other Place” he’s Prime Minister! Similar to how we believe Kevin has been making frequent trips to the “Other Place”, thus creating a certain measure of control over what happens there, we also believe Christopher Sunday regularly visits Dreamtime. The fact he becomes Prime Minister and still retains a connection to memories formed while living reinforce the idea that he travels between planes with purpose and often. Almost everyone else forgets who they were.
Baptism / Water Portal
Did anyone else flash back to the season opener when Michael baptizes Kevin in the spring during the scene when his father drowns him in the tub? In the first case Kevin lies, but attests to accepting a savior. In the second, he becomes one. One definition of baptism states: “a person’s initiation into a particular activity or role, typically one perceived as difficult.” Yeah, I think that fits.
At this point, we believe that the personage of David Burton is in fact some facet of God. Since God is said to be everywhere and in everything, why couldn’t he have representations of himself? In this case, David Burton provides the voice of God straight into Beardless Kevin’s ear. Instead of working with God, going along with His plan, Kevin kills his girlfriend and removes the earpiece, thus rejecting God’s influence and direction.
We believe the secondary scanner at the Secure Location is the continuation and culmination of three seasons worth of pent up amusement on the part of the writer’s regarding the viewers’ fascination with the size of Justin Theroux’s… manhood. Remember last season in International Assassin when a security detail pats Kevin down prior to meeting Senator Patti? He pats Kevin’s inner thigh and offers congratulations. Why the writer’s decided to abandon subtlety in this case we can only assume to be a way to further tease the actor on an issue that dogs him about half of the interviews he gives. Sort of an addressing the elephant in the room kind of thing.
Door code 6969
Among a list of legendary, badly overused PINs and codes.
God Only Knows
For long-time HBO fans, this song should ring familiar as the theme song for the first several season of Big Love. For the it plays during this episode, it manages to express the necessity of the two Kevin’s reunification while contrasting the seriousness of the scene with its Beach Boy, bubble-gum pop-music melody. Pretty inspired choice.
Themes / Symbols
Dean the dog killer barges into Kevin’s oceanside hut and breaks any and all reflective surfaces he finds. His mission, to get Beardless Kevin to kill the President, requires no sitting and think – or one might say “reflection” on the task at hand. We believe Dean is well aware of the danger to his mission should Beardless Kevin begin to interface with President Kevin. From that single-minded perspective, Dean has good instincts: the more Beardless Kevin deals with his other self, the less likely the assassination becomes.
Beardless Kevin, the one who wrote a romance novel in his beach hut, likes the escape of the “Other Place” and, without thinking about it any more than that, would love to stop the president from it blowing up. After reflecting on the kind of man he’s become and what he’s put Nora through, he doesn’t want to be able to come back. He never would have reached that conclusion without reflection.
Two Sides of Oneself
This episode presents two versions of Kevin in the same plane of existence. One, Beardless Kevin, likes it there, comes there often, and engages in a mission to kill his other half when he learns about that half’s plan to destroy his refuge away from the physical world. The other, President Kevin, embodies a matured Guilty Remnant philosophy and has a plan to destroy the “Other Place”, with prodding from Patti Levin. When the two lay eyes on each other, Patti breaks out in the theme of the Patti Duke Show, choosing use the lyric about them being as different as night and day as her final statement on the matter.
The Book of Kevin
The Book of Kevin exists in both planes of existence. In our world, Matt wrote a book about Kevin and made it about the things about Kevin most important to him. In the “Other Place”, Kevin has likely been sneaking away from our world (using his dry cleaning bags) and spending some time in his beach hut, writing his “romance” novel, and other times he plays the part of the president writing in his journal. The existence of the book in both worlds shouldn’t be overlooked. We assume Dreamtime concerns itself only with the important stuff: people and significant artifacts.
Kevin vs Love
The location of the launch key behind Beardless Kevin’s heart is no accident. Combined with the realization Kevin comes to during the reading of the Book, Kevin literally wants his heart removed rather than continue feeling the way he does about Nora. He both loves her and can’t stand being with her. Thanks to that disparity, he put Nora through quite a lot of emotional turmoil and he can’t stand living with that feeling. Like he told Nora when they hooked up in Season 1, he’s a mess.
Location of the Incision
The location of the fifth of Christ’s wounds suffered during Crucifixion is not specified as to which side of the body the lance pierced – only that it was just under the rib cage. Since we’ve spent a whole season wondering if Kevin is a second coming of Jesus and here he’s dying so that the rest of the world may live, we’re not going to get caught up on exact placement. It’s close enough to agree with the rest of the symbolism.
“In the early days of our movement, it was mandatory that all members smoke cigarettes and refrain from speaking. But we realized those traditions were stupid.” – President Kevin
“The secure location can only be access by my exact biometrics.” – Real World Kevin
“Is that supposed to make sense to me?” – Kevin Sr.
“Doesn’t make sense to me.” – Real World Kevin
“Well, they’re not going to go to that length…” – Chief Kevin the secret service agent regarding plastic surgery and the additional biometric scanner
Kevin will try to find Nora.
Matt will not survive the finale.
Kevin Sr. will stay with Grace Playford.
John and Michael will make their way back to Jarden, maybe looking for Laurie on the way.
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