Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 7: Most Powerful Adversary

Kevin wakes up, handcuffed to the bed and with Hallucination!Patti telling him Nora has packed and left. Kevin goes into denial while Patti repeatedly insist that Nora has left him. He tries to get Jill to fetch tools to open the cuffs and she finds a note instead – and when Kevin refuses to tell her anything she opens it. The note says that Nora has left with the baby but not why

Jill is furious and storms out.

Kevin keeps calling Nora, insisting “he’s not crazy” while Patti offers reassurance. He goes to a locksmith to have the cuff removed but has problems because it’s police issue (and, therefore, the locksmith is leery of helping a felon) and because he keeps talking to (swearing at) Patti. She continues to troll and annoy Kevin – especially when he demands to know why she’s following him (turns out she doesn’t know either).

Jill goes to tell Michael all about how her dad is fucking up her family and he objects to her swearing in a church – so she screams “fuck” over and over. Because she is five. And, to be fair, with her knew family going through unpleasantness, has bigger things to worry about than whether an angry deity’s precious ears will be offended by the naught words. She tells him about her dad “losing his mind” and hearing voices. Michael asks how sure she is the voices are not there since he does.

This is not reassuring – she’s also quick to leap topics and take a stab at him refusing to have sex with her but still “fool around” because Jesus and then yelling at god for not talking to her. But Michael has a very sensible reason for not having sex – he doesn’t want to, they don’t know each other well enough yet.

Michael decides to join Kevin and reveal that he knows who Kevin is seeing because his grandfather told him (and he describes Patti). He wants to help Kevin de-Patti himself and off they go to see his grandfather (the man his mother hates), Virgil.

Apparently Kevin has been to Virgil’s house (a trailer in the park) when he sleep walked – he also talks about Patti as if he can see her. He recaps how Kevin came to visit him before (they had a whole conversation when Kevin was asleep – and it seems Kevin told him all about Patti).

Apparently the way to fight off Patti is to die – hence the whole trying to drown himself. Virgil thinks that the lake draining just as Kevin tried to kill himself is proof he has an awesome champion – or a powerful adversary; something he himself had which “made him do terrible things.”

Time for some revelation: John shot Virgil (his dad), repeatedly and nearly killed him (which is why John went to prison) and Virgil defeated his adversary came back and was a better man – he talks about how he “hurt” John and the fact he refers to his genitals as “infernal machinery” implies what that means. Now he wants to temporarily kill Kevin for his own good

Kevin says no. Shocking, really.

Kevin goes to confront Patti because Patti never mentioned going to Virgil. To which Patti’s response is:

“what would you have said if I’d told you the solution to all your problems is a magical Black man on the end of town. That’s borderline racist, that is.”

She then smacks him when he implies she’s afraid of the solution that will get rid of her – because she’s all ready to battle with him, oh yes. I want to say now that I’ve got twenty on Patti.

To complete Kevin’s day, Laurie appears at the visitor’s centre asking to see Kevin. She can’t be let in because Miracle is the special place of extreme rules that requires him to speak to her through a chain link fence. And yes, to his surprise, she talks. And she wants to speak to Tommy – revealing that she spoke to Nora because Kevin tells her he hasn’t seen or heard from Tommy.  Of course he also learns that Tommy was with Laurie and he’s in touch with Jill. Kevin is sufficiently on edge to worry Laurie. She leaves while he rants after her.

Kevin goes to see John for help removing the handcuff (more comfortable on passing it off as a sex game with John than he was in the locksmith) though he’s on edge because they are taking palm prints of volunteers to match with the palm print found on his car where Evie disappeared. Kevin’s palm print. Of course he can’t say no to offering his own print. And he doesn’t even get a his cuff removed

In another low point, Patti twists the knife a little more.

He goes home to Jill who wants to know how he will fix their family. He has no answers. Instead he goes to see Laurie and he tells her about the hallucination Patti. Laurie is much more patient as they talk smoking and what Patti wants him to do – she also makes the point that Patti never appears around Laurie because Laurie could prove she wasn’t real. Since Laurie knew Patti when she was alive, she could demand Patti tell Kevin things only she knew.

We’re also reminded that Laurie was a therapist before all this happened – and that she used to be Patti’s therapist (and broke client confidentiality – which Kevin forgot – which is why Patti can tell Kevin all about hr messy break up). She also tells him the pitfall of belief when uncertain and traumatised (which pretty much encompasses the whole world after the Departure) – and how she and Tommy were using this to imitate Wayne (which eventually drove Tommy away). It’s why she joined a cult and it’s why Kevin hallucinates Patti – looking for a way to turn off all the guilt and fear and pain. She advises him to seek help

And Kevin asks her to come into town with him – since she still has his surname. This is such a bad idea. Jill is not going to be happy about this.

He gets home and Nora calls him – to tell him not to call her any more. He desperately tells her he loves her and wants to get rid of Patti and will. He just needs to know she’ll believe him when he says she’s gone. She says she’d believe him – and come back.

While he’s talking, Jill comes home. She’s not happy… but Kevin has left, driving off to see Virgil for his quick-fix suicide-with-guide cure.

Michael leaves as he arrives (looking upset). So they prepare to poison Kevin and bring him back and Patti speaks up, overtly labelling Virgil as a paedophile. When Kevin challenges her, she says she wants him to do it. And when he drinks the poison she yells at him to stop… too late

Kevin collapses, seizing until he goes still. Virgil does nothing, pouring away the epinephrine he was supposed to use to revive him – then shooting himself in the head. Ooooookay. Not according to plan.

Which is when Michael comes in and drags Kevin out

While I can understand Kevin trying to win Nora back, what is the point of telling Nora you have a problem and then calling and saying “you’re not crazy”? No, far better is “yes, I am clearly having mental health issues I want to seek help with.” That is the point of disclosure I would have hoped

And while I can understand Kevin, the man with said mental health issues (or possibly being haunted because it’s Leftovers and who the hell knows?!) having problems and even being tormented – but I think the episode kind of expects us to agree with the idea that Nora is perfectly reasonable shunning him (while she was quite happy to swallow the whole kidnapping + watching Patti commit suicide honest, totally what happened thing) and taking the baby with him. Jill accepts that, even Kevin. There is no push back from this. There’s a denial of mental illness, not “yes, I am mentally ill. Yes I need help. No, that doesn’t mean I’m dangerous.”

What I do love is Laurie’s simple break down of him needing help in very sensible, rational, reasonable terms.

There’s still a good chance that she’s woo-woo related

Or not – because we’re getting a secondary theme rising over and over: people are so desperate and lost and confused and frightened after the Departure that they’ll believe anything, cling to anything. Especially in Miracle, the town that was “spared.” There we have seen all kinds of desperate, odd behaviours and Laurie really nicely underlined it this episode with Laurie’s comment’s on belief. When faced with something so extreme and unknowable, people are desperately reaching for any explanation or foundation. Whether that’s overt religiosity, random goat sacrifices, wearing a wedding dress every day- or hallucinating dead Guilty Remnant members. And haven't we seen this in history? Look at the extreme acts people have turned to when faced with then unknowable horrors like plague?

So how much is true? How much is real? How much of the potential woo-woo is just various characters desperately trying to find meaning/connection/explanation/power from anything around them? From that we have John’s own crusade – and what underpins it? Does he see a town drowning in nonsense and goat blood and people on towers and a line of desperate tourists that have reduced his home into an armed police state that he wants to save? Is it an elaborate distraction for him? Is he actually afraid that one of them may be right?

In some ways this may be the first Mystery show to use the eternal Mystery in the correct way - the whole point of the show is NOT KNOWING, not EVER KNOWING

It is interesting and even forward thinking to have Michael say he doesn’t want sex simply because he doesn’t want to have sex. But then we have Virgil and Michael spending time together, and Virgil’s history and… I think they’re going to develop that storyline to bad places

The “borderline racist” magic Black man comment was an on point statement – but it remains to be seen if Virgil is exactly what she called out