The Leftovers – A Most Powerful Adversary Review


Spoilers for The Leftovers episode “A Most Powerful Adversary” follow

It’s another tense set of circumstances in Jarden in this week’s The Leftovers. Kevin is back at the forefront of the story, and boy is there a lot going on in his life right now. When we saw Kevin last, he told Nora that he’s seeing the deceased Patty. That understandably caused her to take their adopted daughter and run like hell. On top of that, Kevin can’t stop sweating.

We got into the details of the Kevin-Patty relationship. Is Patty real? Is she not real? What does she want? How can Kevin get rid of her? We got answers to most of those questions this week, but the answers change depending on who you ask. Like last week, “A Most Powerful Adversary” explored people of different mindsets approaching the problems presented to them. Kevin is looking for a way to break free from Patty’s clutches. He received two solutions: one from his ex wife Laurie, and one from Virgil.

Virgil, who we learned is Michael Murphy’s grandfather and John Murphy’s father, tells Kevin that the solution is to “cross over” to Patty’s turf to battle her. Of course, that means that Kevin has to die and then come back from the dead. Laurie has a more scientific approach to Kevin’s visions. Since she’s a former psychiatrist, she tells Kevin that he’s having a psychotic breakdown, and that therapy and medication is the key.

Since the world of The Leftovers is full of supernatural phenomena, Kevin understandably goes with the former solution. The result is the most shocking ending in the entire series of The Leftovers. More on that later.

Patty is becoming a permanent fixture in Kevin’s life. She’s there when he talks to others. She’s there when he wakes up. She’s the reason Nora left him. What choice does he have than to go through desperate measures to rid his life of her. The only complication with that plan is his daughter Jill. How will Kevin’s choice affect Jill, who has been deserted by her mother? Kevin essentially has to kill himself. Jill deserves better parental guidance than she’s received up to this point.

Virgil is aware of Patty’s existence because Kevin visited him during one of his sleepwalking episodes. According to Virgil, Kevin acts exactly like he does when he sleepwalks as he does when he’s awake. Virgil told him of his solution back in episode two of season two when Kevin awoke at the bottom of the lake with a cinder block tied to his leg. He tried to kill himself in order to battle Patty.

Virgil is able to help because he’s been there. Remember that his son John went to jail for attempted murder? He helped his father “cross over.” In order to do that, John must have some sort of spiritual belief. That’s a quite different belief structure than we’ve seen from the realist John up to this point.

Laurie came back into the story when she shows up on the outskirts of Jarden looking for their son Tom. After a hard conversation through a fence reveals that neither of them know of Tom’s whereabouts, Kevin seeks Laurie later that night for helpful advice. That’s when Laurie explains her idea of an answer to Kevin’s problems.

Kevin convinced Laurie to come back to their home in Jarden, but that was all part of Kevin’s plan. His plan was to have Laurie watch over Jill so he could go talk to virgil about crossing over. Once he arrived at Virgil’s residence, events unfolded that nearly unhinged my jaw.

Virgil gives Kevin a poison beverage in order to kill him, and prepares a shot of adrenaline to bring him back Pulp Fiction style. Kevin has a brief conversation with Patty before throwing back the cup. Patty tells him she wants him to drink the poison before begging him to stop just before he drinks it. What could those mixed messages mean?

After Kevin spends a few moments convulsing on the floor, Virgil pulls the ultimate switcheroo. He empties the syringe of adrenaline onto the floor, puts a pistol in his mouth and pulls the trigger! A teary-eyed Michael, who knew what was going to transpire, enters to remove Kevin’s body. Roll credits.

An episode that gave us plenty of answers just added plenty more questions. Only three episodes left. What’s going to happen?!

HBO Binge Grade: A

Things you need to know + new questions:

John is testing every man’s hand print in Jarden. Kevin gave him his in tonight’s episode. That sure is a smoking gun, but it might not matter if Kevin doesn’t survive his poison cocktail.

Virgil said the man in the pillar in Jarden is a “living success story” of his answer to Kevin’s problems. So I guess that means the man on the pillar, Kevin and Virgil have all had other-worldly visitors.

If Michael knew of Virgil’s plan, why would he let him go through with it? What’s their angle?