Recap: The Leftovers 2.8 "International Assassin"

Nov 24, 2015 by Sarah Moffatt

I had to watch this episode a couple of times in order to articulate some sort of cohesive thought about what happened, and I’m still not sure I succeeded.

This episode gave us a few answers, and it found a way to bring Kevin back to life without totally ruining the credibility of the show, which is really a credit the writing and complexity of the show to begin with.

I’ve been talking about the significance of water all season and it’s importance to our character’s story. Well, we’ve got our answer – at least part of it, for sure.

As it usually seems to do, water marked rebirth for Kevin, much like a baptism. When you decide to be baptized, it usually means you’ve accepted Christ into your heart and you’re ready to clean yourself of sin. When you rise from the water, the idea is to be cleansed of your past life and rise with a clean slate as a child of God. The first shot of this episode is Kevin literally rising from the water as though he has been dunked. Though I didn’t find this to be a direct analog to a baptism, Kevin does emerge to grab clothes out of a wardrobe labeled “Know who you are first, then adorn yourself accordingly.” He passes over preacher robes, the GR uniform, and his old Mapleton Police Department uniform in favor of a suit that made him an international assassin. A fitting choice, seeing as he’s now killed Patti across two realities.

In his flurry of confusion, Kevin heads down towards the front desk of the hotel to find out where he is, but he sees a little girl drowning in the pool, so he jumps, saves her, and CPRs her back to life – another rebirth. When Kevin makes his way to the concierge, he realizes it’s Virgil. After they find a nice place to talk in the parking garage, Virgil tells Kevin not to drink the water, but never explains why. After Virgil ends up drinking the water because he was “so thirsty,” we learn that the water actually cleanses your mind, making you forget your past lives. This makes total sense after Gladys (the GR from season 1 who was stoned to death by her own people) sees and speaks to Kevin without recognizing him. Anyway, a rebirth of the mind.

So that’s why Virgil shot himself: Kevin needed a guide in the after-world. He told Kevin before the double suicide went down he would need a guide in the afterlife, but for some reason I didn’t realize that meant he had to die, too. Once Kevin realizes they both died, he asks Virgil what he’s doing in that world, too, to which he replies: Atoning.

Atonement refers to the forgiving and cleansing of sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which makes forgiveness between God and mankind possible.

That, my friends, sums up the entire meaning of this episode.

We learn through Virgil that Kevin is temporarily a part of a world designed by Patti to test him. After Kevin has assassinated Senator Patti Levin, who is running for President, and he thinks he’s finally free of Patti, we learn via her ex-husband Neil that she is actually the small child Kevin saved from drowning at the beginning of the episode. So, naturally, he kills Neil and takes Patti.

Kevin and little Patti head to the well (like his father told him to do through the TV). When they arrive at the bridge, a stranger gives Kevin a choice: kill himself, or kill the child. Kevin continues with Patti on foot to the well. After running through a list of why she deserves it and Kevin crying his eyes out, he shoves the little girl down the well. Again, he’s pretty sure he’s done with her. Then, we hear Patti calling up to him. He hops down (or falls, whatever), has a tender moment with Patti, holding her before drowning her in the well.

Next we see Kevin climbing out of his grave – the “holy s–t” we talked about last week. So, he’s alive in the real world and presumably Patti-less.

Of course, I do have a few lingering questions:

Why is Mary there? We see her standing and talking (it appears) when she takes the balloons from the delivery man. Is she in the underworld because her mind is gone though her body still lives?

Can we assume this is where the Departed went? The showrunners have said time and again we will never find out for sure, but can they allude to it? I suppose we would have to assume they’re dead if that’s the case.

How did Kevin’s dad come through on the static TV in this world if he’s in Perth, Australia? How did he know to reach Kevin there and what advice to give him?

What was the significance of the bird? It was alive and flying around the hotel before Virgil drank the water and killed it. Did the bird represent Patti?

As frustrated and addicted as I am to this show, I’m pretty sure I will never watch Lost, you know, that other show for which David Lindelof is responsible.

Watch The Leftovers at 9pm ET Sundays on HBO or catch up On Demand.

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