The Leftovers’ latest episode, “A Most Powerful Adversary,” focused on the battle Kevin’s been fighting with Patti—who is either a manifestation of his troubled mind, or a visitor from another dimension that only he can see. Depends on who you ask. Better not ask Kevin, though.
After last week’s mother-centric dramas, we turn our attention almost entirely to Kevin, who’s long since blown any chance of ever winning Father of the Year. After hearing Kevin confess that he’s been having visions of Patti, Nora grabs baby Lily and comatose Mary and gets the hell out of the house, leaving Kevin handcuffed to the bed. Jill is even angrier than usual at this new development, though pious Michael tries to calm her down (he’s not helpful, though, especially when he says he won’t sleep with her because “I don’t know if I love you yet”).
Meanwhile, Kevin—symbolic/literal cuffs still dangling from his wrist—continues his slide toward completely cracking up. Patti, who specifically warned him not to tell Nora about her, informs him that she killed herself to find peace, and is none too thrilled about being stuck following Kevin around instead.
Michael tries to help, telling Kevin he should consult his grandfather—aha! Virgil is his grandfather!—again. Wait, again? It’s the first we’ve heard of it, and Kevin doesn’t remember it either, but apparently Kevin went to see Virgil the night Evie vanished. Turns out he did it while sleepwalking, and the reason he tried to drown himself was because Virgil told him it’d be the only way he could shake Patti. “She ain’t in you,” Virgil reminds him. “She’s on you.”
But the earthquake saved him, and fate or worse made it so he was in the vicinity of Evie’s mysterious disappearance. “You’ve either got someone looking out for you, or you’ve got yourself a most powerful adversary.” And Virgil knows from experience; we learn that the man John went to prison for assaulting was Virgil, after Virgil was exposed as a pedophile who’d been victimizing his own grandkids—though he was driven to do evil by a Patti-like figure that ordered him to do it. (At least, that was my interpretation ...)
Kevin needs some time to think about whether he’s going to take up Virgil’s offer of helping him die, then returning to life free of his Patti parasite. Patti is skeptical of Virgil (and raises a valid point: “A magical black man sittin’ on the edge of town? That’s borderline racist!”), but she’s all for dying. Again.
But first, a phone call. Laurie, of all people, is at the Miracle gates, looking for Tommy; he’s gone AWOL after becoming disillusioned with the whole “hug guru” lifestyle. (Anyone else wonder if Meg might know where he is?) Kevin says he hasn’t spoken to Tommy in ages, and he’s not pleased by Laurie’s sudden appearance. But his initial shock at seeing Laurie dissolves when she hits him with some therapy #realtalk.
Laurie, of course, was Patti’s therapist before the great departure, and she also knows first-hand how emotional distress can make someone “susceptible to false beliefs.” Laurie joined Patti’s cult to deal with her distress; Kevin is now seeing Patti, much like his own father claimed to see people who weren’t there. But “there’s no Patti, Kevin. There’s only you,” Laurie says. She points out that Patti won’t ever appear when Laurie’s around, because Laurie knows all kinds of inside dirt about her, and she can prove that the Patti that Kevin is seeing isn’t the real Patti.
But Kevin’s got problems that have nothing to do with ol’ Patti. Hoping to get those damn handcuffs off, he swings by the fire station, only to encounter John (who always looks like he’s just about to explode, even when he’s smiling). He insists—in a friendly way, sorta—that Kevin have his palm print taken. You know, just to rule him out of having any part in Evie’s disappearance. Sweaty, sweaty Kevin has no choice, so he does it. And Miracle’s fire department can’t even help with the cuffs. “You went there to get free, and you got caught,” Patti snarks.
To get some Patti relief, Kevin brings Laurie with him when he returns home. (Jill. Is. Unthrilled.) But he decides he’ll need a more permanent and drastic solution when he finally gets through to Nora, who’s been dodging his calls since she left. She agrees to try again with their relationship if he can convince her he doesn’t see Patti anymore. So it’s off to Virgil’s, where the old man gives him a cup of poison and shows him the epinephrine he’ll use to revive him.
After a brief hesitation (is it really Patti’s doing, or is it Kevin who doesn’t truly trust Virgil?), he downs the glass, ready to briefly die, do battle on the other side, and return a free man. But as Kevin lies twitching and foaming at the mouth, Virgil squirts out the epinephrine syringe, then takes out a gun and shoots himself.
OH YES HE DID.
As the minutes tick by and Kevin lurches ever-closer to permanent death, Michael suddenly appears. Did he just happen to be lurking outside? Was he in on this plan, since he generally seems to know a lot more about what’s going on than he lets on? Where is he dragging Kevin’s limp, soon-to-be-corpse? Will we get a glimpse of Kevin’s time in poison-induced purgatory? Will Patti be there ... and will she still be around when (and if) he wakes up? And if he wakes up, how’s he gonna escape being killed again immediately when John realizes his palm print is a match?
We won’t know until next week, because that’s the end of the episode. And there are only three to go after this.