The Leftovers took a strange and wonderful trip this week with “International Assassin” as Kevin Garvey experienced something that could be described as purgatory/the afterlife or even a drug induced descent into his psyche. There is no one definitive answer – on this show that is a rare – and your interpretation will vary depending on whether you think Kevin is experiencing a psychotic break or if Patti really is there talking to him. It is an incredibly trippy episode and these kinds of dream state outings can be divisive with some seeing it as an easy way to explore the inner workings of a character/story. I tend to like an existential journey if it is done well and The Leftovers hits all the right notes with their exploration of everything Kevin has been experiencing since this version of Patti came into his life.
Waking up naked in a bathtub essentially being spat up by the water we see Kevin surviving another near drowning. There are also rebirth connotations and the hotel room location further disorientates both Kevin and us as it is nondescript and could essentially be anywhere. The first test Kevin must face is picking an outfit or rather picking an identity with the closet offering up a riddle of sorts “Know first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.” It all sounds very biblical and the presence of religious garb is not surprising, nor is Kevin’s immediate dismissal of this ensemble. Next comes the all white Guilty Remnant signature look and this gets a mere glance; I can see Kevin in the purple robes before he would ever contemplate wearing GR material.
More time is spent perusing the uniform he used to wear, but this is not who he is anymore and he left that version of himself back in Mapleton. Kevin was always the reluctant police chief and while he is drawn toward this idea of order it is not the right look for wherever this place is.
It is also not very incognito and there are responsibilities that come with wearing this uniform; one of those isn’t killing the woman who has been plaguing your earthy existence. The black suit doesn’t come with the same set of pre-conceived notions, even if Kevin later finds out that it makes him the international assassin of the episode title (*drink*). It could mean one of many things and people wear black suits for various reasons; the other three outfits have specific roles and right now Kevin is pretty lost other than the mission at hand to vanquish his tormentor. Because Kevin isn’t privy to the secrets of this universe we are thrust into this same level of bewilderment as he is and Justin Theroux is nailing the desperation of these many WTF moments in what continues to be new and devastating ways; it isn’t just down to his magical and super expressive eyebrows either.
There is another Damon Lindelof show that springs to mind where this episode is concerned and that protagonist was wearing something very similar when we first met him; Jack Shephard is no international assassin.
He picked well and luckily this is a very quick drying suit after he took a swim to save what turned out to be a young Patti. Bonus points for being the perfect fit and woah does Jack’s suit look 90s level of baggy in comparison.
Overall it is probably best he didn’t go for his old uniform as things don’t look so good for this person (maybe the version of Kevin who went for the police chief look) who walked by Kevin later in the episode.
And for those (like me) who were slightly disappointed that Kevin didn’t take a walk down clothing memory lane this is for you.
At least those aviators have made the leap from Mapleton to Jarden.
Earlier this season I wrote about Nora’s change of look, while Kevin pretty much stayed the same other than losing his uniform and along with it some of his power/control. Not that this uniform protected him from the crazy back home – remember the dry cleaning incident and all of his shirts hanging in the woods?! In fact his handcuffs are now part of his daily routine to stop his sleepwalking rather than being part of his job. Plus he has put himself in danger thanks to the handcuffs when he stopped by the fire station to get them removed; now John (the self appointed man in charge) has his hand print which will place him at the scene of his daughter’s disappearance and there is no way John is going to believe any of Kevin’s sleepwalking reasoning.
Patti dies for a second time with Kevin at her side and unlike the first version where she took her own life and he embraced her as she died, the embrace comes first and is followed by Kevin drowning her at the bottom of the well. It is all he can do to save himself and complete his mission (the suit did the trick), but what we don’t know is what got whispered in his ear Lost in Translation style on the bridge. What it comes down to is not killing an enemy, but understanding who Patti was and why the sudden departure gave her a twisted new lease of life. Who knew a story about Jeopardy could be this devastating and explain so much about a character’s journey.
The warning that he will be forever changed is incredibly foreboding and no matter whether this is all in Kevin’s head or if he has experienced a version of the afterlife he is going to have a hard time explaining exactly what he has been through. Especially as we definitely saw him clawing his way out of the very real Jarden ground.