The Leftovers season 3, episode 7 recap: ‘The Most Powerful Man in the World’


Kevin faces his identical twin in The Leftovers’ sequel to last season’s “International Assassin” episode.

We’ve been heading towards the seventh anniversary of the Sudden Departure all season as The Leftovers approaches its final episode. Kevin Sr. believes a massive flood will bring about the apocalypse to mark the day. Matt wanted to ensure that Kevin Jr. was in Miracle as he believes that he’s the second coming of Christ, traveling all the way to Australia to retrieve him. Nora unwittingly used the occasion to locate a device that may transport her to where her family departed. Meanwhile, as usual, Kevin Jr. just wanted to get away.

Much of the penultimate episode of The Leftovers, entitled “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother),” explores just why it is that Kevin is so eager to delve back into the underworld. He’s tasked with delivering a message to Evie, asking Grace’s kids where their shoes are, and contacting Christopher Sunday to receive the last song needed to stop the flood. But it’s unclear what Kevin’s exact motivations are.

Towards the end of “Certified,” Kevin expressed to Laurie that he felt no fear in dying again. In fact, he says that he’s never felt more alive than when he’s traveled to the other side twice before.

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Episode 7 of the final season of The Leftovers returns to the season one theme song for the opening credits, foreshadowing that various characters from the past will be returning in this latest installment.

“The Most Powerful Man in the World” opens with a flashback scene featuring Kevin and Nora sitting in a bathtub contemplating how they would each like to be disposed of after they die. Nora would like to be cremated (which may happen sooner rather than later if the device reduces her to ashes), while Kevin would prefer to be stuffed. Lily is heard crying over the baby monitor, giving the moment a more specific time frame. Nora agrees to stuff Kevin as long he’s given a beard.

Nora submerges Kevin underwater as the tender scene cuts to a bearded Kevin being drowned on the seesaw that Grace used to mistakenly kill the Australian police chief named Kevin in “Don’t Be Ridiculous.” We then see Kevin Sr., John and his son Michael awaken from their drug-induced sleep. Kevin Sr. believes that Laurie successfully convinced his son not to partake in his mission, but he quickly spots him outside in the water.

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“I thought we would do it together,” he says to a confused Kevin Jr. after he brings him back to the surface. Kevin Jr. confirms all of his assignments before being drowned again.

A clean shaven and bare-assed Kevin resurfaces on the beach where he’s attacked by a large Russian man until his old friend/dog killer Dean saves him. Dean leads him to a nearby hut where he’s been writing a romance novel and informs him that “Kevin Harvey” the assassin is tasked with killing the president, who’s about to start an unsanctioned nuclear war. Kevin agrees to do it in exchange for speaking with Grace’s children, Evie and Christopher Sunday, who’s Prime Minister of Australia in this universe.

Dean also smashes all reflective surfaces and demands that he not look into any of them or else “they” will find him. Kevin also spots a scar over his heart while getting dressed.

Once Dean leaves, Kevin hears the voice of the man he met on the bridge last season in his earpiece. He also happens to look identical to David Burton (or “God”), the man Matt tussled with in episode 5 earlier this season. The man demands that he look into a shard of glass, which transports the now-bearded Kevin before a large crowd dressed all in white.

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It turns out that the Guilty Remnant has ascended to power with Kevin as their leader. In this latest version of the underworld, Kevin is tasked with hunting and killing another version of himself, confirming the man in his earpiece’s previous assertion that he’s the most powerful man in the world a.k.a the President of the United States, though this could also describe his alleged position as a messianic figure who will save the world from destruction.

Kevin slowly recites a speech off a teleprompter where he denounces marriage and the family unit. He soon meets Grace’s kids, who instead of looking for their parents, reject the idea of family in this bizarro world, and refuse to tell Kevin where their shoes are after he informs them that someone close to them wants to know. Additionally, Evie appears as a protester who’s angry that her entire family has been killed by a drone, the same method by which she died.

Meanwhile, Kevin’s secret service agents — led by the Australian police chief who shares his name — informs him that Ukrainian separatists have seized control of a submarine. They then lead him to a bunker which Kevin must gain access to using his “unique biometrics.”

But Kevin is brought back into the real world before he can proceed due to the storm that is consuming Grace’s property. He informs Grace and John that he made contact with their loved ones, though he withholds the details. But Kevin Sr. is unhappy to hear that he wasn’t able to come in contact with Christopher Sunday since that was the point of the whole adventure. He decides to submerge him in the bathtub over the protestations of John, while Michael questions why Kevin Jr. wants to return.

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Back on the other side, Kevin must undergo a series of tests to confirm his identity before entering the bunker, including a penis scanner, since face identification won’t suffice. This moment provides some much-needed levity as a loud clunk sound is heard and the secret service agents casually sneak a peek at the president’s member (Apparently, this was a way for Leftovers co-creator Damon Lindelof to tease Justin Theroux about his infamous jogging scene).

The final question asks who his Secretary of Defense is, and Kevin rightly answers Patti Levin, which grants him access to the bunker. Once inside, he’s greeted by the senator, who quickly leads him to the situation room where she asks him to take them to DEFCON 1 to arm the device and strike first, but Kevin is more concerned with making the phone call to the Australian Prime Minister.

Patti angrily chastises him over his hesitancy until the vice president arrives, who turns out to be fellow Guilty Remnant member Meg. She susses out that the entire story has been made up. Patti confirms that the whole thing is a ruse to vaporize the entire world before the anniversary of the Sudden Departure.

“We give them what they want. And they want to die,” she says.

Meg maintains that that can’t happen since the nuclear launch key has been embedded into the heart of a volunteer, meaning the president would have to murder them in order to extract the key. It’s then that Kevin realizes that the volunteer is the assassin version of himself or his “identical twin brother,” who will be able to pass through security given their shared characteristics.

At Patti’s insistence, Kevin verbally takes them to DEFCON 1 but realizes that he’s no longer able to make his phone call, so he transports back to assassin Kevin using Patti’s glasses.

Once inside, he’s saved from the security guards by Meg, who gives him directions to the comms room where he can make his phone call. She’s assisting him in reaching the president and the secretary of defense so he can kill them, and therefore save the world since she’s recently fallen in love with “God,” who speaks in Kevin’s earpiece. After shooting Meg, he finally talks to Christopher Sunday, who informs him that there is no song.

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While fighting off more security guards, Kevin switches back to being president using a broken computer screen. Kevin angrily breaks Patti’s glasses to pieces as she explains that she’s there to help him in exchange for what he did for her last season. But she too questions what he ultimately wants out of this situation, asking him if he truly wants to go home since he keeps coming backing to the underworld.

Secret service agents then bring assassin Kevin into the situation room where the two Kevins stare at each other across the table. Patti then hands the president the scalpel to retrieve the key from his twin’s heart.

Kevin refuses her request at first, prompting her to read from their shared romance novel. The final page tells of a man who sailed the ocean to escape the woman he loved, describing him as “a coward dressed in the uniform of a brave man.” The passage is interspersed with images of Kevin and Nora. Both men weep as they realize that Kevin screwed up in the handling of their relationship.

“Take this thing out of me,” assassin Kevin says. “So we can’t ever come back here again.”

It’s then that Kevin realizes that he must kill his former self, and destroy this world so he may never return. The president takes the scalpel and makes the incision so he can open his heart and fix what’s inside of him. “God Only Knows” plays over the sequence, perfectly describing Kevin and Nora’s dysfunctional relationship.

After retrieving the key, Patti and Kevin are seen standing hand in hand as they watch the world be destroyed in front of them until it reaches where they are. Kevin then wakes up back in Australia after the storm has passed. He joins his father on the roof confused as to what happens next, similar to the woman waiting for a rapture that never comes in the 1800s that were

seen in the season 3 premiere.

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Next: Jimmy Kimmel pranks Justin Theroux with The Leftovers Emmy campaign

Lindelof has indicated that at its core, The Leftovers is a love story. Ahead of its conclusion, the relationship between Kevin and Nora is the most relevant to the story, as the missions of most of the other characters have fallen by the wayside. But it remains to be seen whether Nora will go through with using the device, and how it connects to her appearance in the season opener as an aged version of herself named Sarah who denies knowing Kevin.

The Leftovers series finale airs next Sunday, June 4th at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.