The Leftovers: “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)” Season 3 Episode 7 Review

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“I want to go home.” “Do you?” Kevin has spent the entirety of The Leftovers running. Before the Sudden Departure, his home wasn’t enough, so he cheated on Laurie. In trying to build a new life with Nora, they ran to Jarden in hopes that they’re problems wouldn’t follow them. When they did, they went to Australia. And finally, when he left Nora, life wasn’t even enough for him. Kevin told Laurie last week about the rush being in the “other place” gave him. His fake life as an international assassin, in purgatory no less, is more rewarding than his real one. He’s so ready for more that he’ll risk dying just to get it.

This is all dark, heavy stuff, but as a spiritual sequel to “International Assassin” and parts of “I Live Here Now,” the penultimate episode of the series is high on humor and fun. This time, Kevin plays two roles in the netherworld, resuming his status as an assassin while also leading the free world as the president of the United States, elected from an evolved version of the Guilty Remnant. In a clever and quickly established bit of rule-making, Kevin can switch bodies between the two, distinguished by the beard, by looking into reflective surfaces. With the faces of the dead sprinkled throughout, and some prominent roles for some of the show’s most significant faces, “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)” also gets to serve as a brief reunion tour for fans of the show.

Thankfully, it’s Ann Dowd’s return as Patti Levin that gets the most screentime, as President Kevin’s Secretary of Defense. She’s once again twisting Kevin’s arm into doing things he might not want to do. Like end the world for instance. Having Liv Tyler back as Meg, President Kevin’s vice president, was fun as well, especially with how she and Pattie frequently found themselves at odds with each other over Kevin’s choices. They both embody two very different conflicts in Kevin’s life, but Patti ended up being more controlled than Meg, which is why it’s so delightful when Kevin just shoots Meg and tells God (who’s also back) essentially to “fuck off.” But Kevin isn’t here to revisit the dead that impacted his own life, he’s here to try and find some closure for his friends and father.

It’s telling that Kevin’s mission to go in and talk to the deceased the people back at the ranch asked him to talk to bears no fruit. As president, Kevin sees Grace’s children in the crowd, none of them wearing shoes just as they died. But when Kevin asks that for Grace, one of her sons merely replies “Why does it matter?” Grace’s quest for understanding this terrible moment in her life revolves around a mystery that, once solved, isn’t going to change how she feels. So naturally The Leftovers delivers a non-response. Kevin’s chat with Evie goes even worse, as she seems to believe the reverse that her family was all killed by a drone strike. The possible end of the world in the real world interrupts their interaction, again leaving him with nothing substantial to go back to John with. Finally, assassin Kevin finds a way to talk to Christopher Sunday, purgatory’s version of the Australian Prime Minister. He’s the only one to talk to Kevin directly, but he says there is no song, and wonder why Kevin is even there in the first place. Kevin even acknowledges that he doesn’t believe his father can stop the flood with the song. So why bother?

It’s another excuse to run.

But this time there’s no running. Kevin is coming head to head with himself for the climax of the series, as moderated by Patti Levin. The key to ending the world lies in back of assassin Kevin’s heart, and President Kevin must reach in and pull it out. In one of the best sequences of the series, the two Kevins, unafraid to throw profanities at each other and Patti, must find peace. The last passage of this romance novel one of them supposedly wrote—hilariously unclear which—brings it all back to Nora. In season one, Nora was a reason for Kevin to get better, to connect with his daughter, to keep living. For a while, she grounded him, until she became a partner to run away with. She gave him exactly what he needed until fear once again drove him away. Fear of being too much of a mess for her, fear of losing himself and hurting her, fear that he’ll be alone again no matter what. As one Kevin dies, uttering “We fucked up with Nora” as his last words, Kevin becomes whole again.

And so, he allows the world to end. The Leftovers delivers on its promise. Missiles slowly make their way across a beautiful sky, with Kevin and Patti hand-in-hand facing oblivion for all time. The world ends for Kevin, just not the one that was supposed to.

Kevin Sr.’s emptiness after the nasty rainstorm he mistook for the end of days is one of the most satisfying moments of the season. He’s sitting on a roof, like the pilgrim in the opening scene of the season, unrelenting in his faith, yet still somehow defeated. “What’s next?” he asks his probably immortal son. That’s the question The Leftovers has been asking since the beginning. How do we move on? What happens after it feels like the world has ended? The show has one more episode to try and answer these questions. But for Kevin, some semblance of peace—albeit brought out of great sorrow—has been achieved. He’s decided on the world of the living once and for all, destroying the world of the dead (at least in his own mind). Where does he go from here? Hopefully, home. Grade: A

By Matt Dougherty

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