The Leftovers Season 3 Episode 7 Recap: The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)

Welcome to our weekly recap of the third and final season of the Leftovers. The end is almost near (only one episode left!) and tonight’s episode offered some important answers to many of our questions. The episode, like International Assassin in season 2, took place mostly in “the other world.” Kevin dies (again) and becomes once more an international assassin, although his mission this time is to stop the end of the world. Does he succeed? Does Kevin really have an identical twin? What’s up with that romance novel? What is the Fisher Protocol? And what does it all mean?!?!?!? If this is not enough, the episode includes some old beloved (well, not really loved) characters, and a pretty funny joke about Justin Theroux’s penis.

You can also read my recaps for The Book of Kevin (Ep 1), Don’t Be Ridiculous (Ep 2), Crazy Whitefella Thinking (Ep 3), “G’Day Melbourne,”  (Ep. 4), “It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World.” (Ep. 5), and “Certified” (Ep. 6).

Recap of my Recap: A Quick Take

Before getting into the details of the episode, let me give you a quick take on it. This was an episode about dualities: there were two books (the Book of Kevin, and Kevin’s romance novel), there were two Kevin (International Assassin, and President of the United States), and there were two worlds (our world, and “the other place”). The Sudden Departure was this event that opened a rift in our universe, it split it in half, with our world on the one end, and this other, larger universe that we don’t understand on the other. The same happened to Kevin, who after the Departure, also became two Kevins, the cop who wanted to pretend that nothing happened, and the Kevin who was suddenly able to hear voices and visit this other world. As the series concludes, this episode offers an attempt to solve that duality that is splitting the world, and Kevin apart.

The episode also revealed that the show is not only about religion, faith, and the mysteries of the universe. It is also about narratives, about the stories we are told and about the stories we tell ourselves. As shown in the two very different narratives about Kevin in this episode (a scripture that depicts him as a savior written by others, or a sappy romance novel written by him) we need to choose the world we want to want to live in, and the life we want to live, we need to be the writers of our own narrative.

Finally, the final scene of the episode revealed that the great question of The Leftovers, is not what happens when the end of the world is coming, but what do we do when it doesn’t.

Opening Credits: The Leftovers score by Max Richter

This episode, unlike the others this season, does not have a prologue, and the music for the opening credits is the haunting Max Richter score for the series.

I Wanna Be Stuffed

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Set up for the episode: It is not really about “the other place,” but about Kevin and Nora

In the opening scene, we see Kevin and Nora taking a bath together. The scene takes place in Jarden, and while they still have Lily. The conversation deals with what they want the other to do with their bodies when they die. Nora wants to be cremated, Kevin, jokingly says he wants to be stuffed. The main point of the scene though is to set up the episode (and I would argue the series) in the context of the relationship between Kevin and Nora. The stakes of the series are high, mainly, the end of the world, but the real stakes here are the relationship between them. Lindelof has already said that, ultimately, The Leftovers is a love story, and this scene points out at that. In many ways, this is something that we also saw in Lost. While the intriguing mystery was about the Island, and what it all meant, the main message of the show was that what really matters are the relationships we make during the short amount of time we have in this world. The rest is meaningless. I think Lindelof is making a similar point here.

Wake Up! Wake Up! Wake Up!

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Here we go again…

Kevin Sr. wakes up after being drugged by Laurie and wakes up the rest in order to proceed with the ritual sacrifice of Kevin. They find that he has already began without them and pulls him out of the water. As Kevin Sr. tells him “I thought we were going to do this together.” Before Kevin is drown again in order to go to “the other place,” everyone around him requests a personal favor: John wants Kevin to tell Evie that she was loved, Grace wants him to find out why her kids did not have shoes when they were found dead, and Kevin Sr. wants Kevin to find Christopher Sunday and learn the final song for the sanguine that will allow him (or so he thinks), to stop the Great Flood that is going to destroy the world that very day. Everyone wants closure, we saw this in the previous episode with the story of Laurie and, in a smaller measure, of Nora, and now we see it with the rest of the characters. Once everyone gets their request Kevin is drowns, dying in this world, so he can be born in the other.

No Reflective Surfaces… That’s How They Find You

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We are not in Kansas anymore

Once Kevin emerges in “the other place,” he does it by appearing on a beach where he is attacked by another assassin but saved at the last second by Dean, the dog shooter from season one who made a brief appearance in this season’s first episode. Dean operates as a guide (like Virgil in the Divine Comedy) during his first moments in this unfamiliar place. Lots of things are going on in this scene, so let me break them down:

  • Dean suggests that Kevin should not look into any reflective surfaces (no mirrors, glasses, etc), “that’s how they find you.” As we will see, looking into reflective surfaces will allow Kevin to switch bodies between him and “his identical twin” (more on that later). The idea of mirrors as portals to alternative realities is something that Lindelof seems to have taken from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, and here Kevin is very much like a tormented Alice wandering in Wonderland.
  • Dean goes with Kevin to his beach hut on the beach (it seems that Kevin was in some sort of beach resort in this “other place.”) There, Dean finds that Kevin is writing a book, a love story of sorts. One of the things we realize in this episode is that this “other place” reflects in a distorted way the reality of our world. Kevin is a police officer in our world, but an international assassin in the other. In our world, Matt is writing a scripture around the life and deeds of Kevin as a Messiah, in this “other place,” Kevin is writing a romance novel based on his own love story with Nora. Also, if in our world Kevin is the Messiah, in this world he is “the most powerful man in the world,” the President of the United States.
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Kevin’s other book
  • “Let’s get assassinating:” Dean tells him that his mission is, indeed, to kill the President of the United States, who “wants to start an unsanctioned nuclear world.” Before he commits to do anything, Kevin tells Dean that he needs to find some people (Evie, Grace’s kids, Christopher Sunday), to which Dean responds that he will need to talk to “the boss,” through the earpiece he gives him in order to coordinate the operation. “The boss,” is none other than our old friend David Burton, who played God in the episode “It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World.” We also see in a flashback that the voice also corresponds to the person who met him at the bridge in the episode International Assassin, and the one who asked him to sing in the season 2 finale in order to scape “the other place.” Kevin also makes a joke about him being God later in the episode, so God or not with capital G, it does operate as a god of sorts in the series.
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Kevin recognizes in a flashback the voice coming through the ear piece: Man on the Bridge and in the karaoke bar/David Burton/God?
  • There is an interesting flashback to International Assassin that answers the question of what God tells him at that bridge: “you are the most powerful man in the world.” What is Kevin supposed to do with that?

The Most Powerful Man In The World

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The Guilty Remnant Leader now President of the United States

Kevin follows “God’s” instructions and looks into a reflective surface (contradicting Dean’s instructions), and now we see him as the President of the United States. He is wearing a white suit, and is giving a speech in Melbourne. It becomes obvious that, in this reality, Kevin is the leader of the Guilty Remnant and has become President of the United States, and leader of the free world (as Lila Byock, one of the writers on the show has tweeted, the episode is in our current political context “eerily prescient”!). The use of doubles and twins reflects the duality lived by Kevin: he is seen as the Messiah in our world by some, as the only one who can stop the end of times, but he is the leader of the Guilty Remnant in the other, the one who wants to end it. Kevin, as an assassin wears black, while as president and leader of the Guilty Remnant wears white. This is the duality within the world and within himself that Kevin needs to solve. The two sides of himself are tearing him apart, and he is going to have to integrate them or to destroy one of them.

 

As the President of the United States he starts giving a speech that reflects the clear nihilism of the Guilty Remnant. In the speech, he says old traditions of the Guilty Remnant have been abolished for being stupid (not talking and smoking cigarettes), but new ones are being created, among them abolishing marriage and the idea of family. The ultimate goal is to abolish humanity by stoping its reproduction, something very similar to the argument of detective Rust Cole (Matthew McConaughey) in the first season of True Detective (this argument has been called “anti-natalist nihilism,” and it has been defended by thinkers such as Jim Crawford.

On a side note, at the beginning of the speech he also starts by saying that this is not the first time that he has travel to the other side of the world, and every time he does, it’s becoming harder and harder to leave, which is a reference to his constant travels to the “other side” and its alluring power, which is making it more difficult for Kevin to find purpose and meaning in our world.

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Evie protesting President Kevin’s nihilistic policies by singing “Love will Keep Us Together”

After the speech we see Grace’s kids who don’t really have an answer for the question of why they were not wearing shoes, and we also see Evie, who has no idea of what Kevin is talking about when he tells her that her family loved her. The reality in this other place is not the same as in our world, there are resemblances, and similarities, but they are reversed and distorted images of each other. For example, in our world, Evie dies in a drone strike ordered by the government to destroy the Guilty Remnant, in this place, Evie’s family is killed by a drone strike ordered by Kevin’s Guilty Remnant administration. The only character besides Kevin who keeps a sense of continuity between both worlds is Christopher Sunday, who Kevin will meet later.

Why Are You Doing This?

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Why are you doing this?

Right as Kevin is talking to Evie in the other world, Kevin is pulled out from the pond where he has been ritually drawn because of flooding, which forces his premature return to our world. There is an interesting moment in this scene when Michael asks Kevin why is he doing this, because he is definitely not doing it because he believes in his father’s story of the song that will stop the flood. While Kevin has no answer, there is a flash to the initial scene of the episode of Kevin and Nora in the bathtub. That’s the answer. He is not doing it for them, or for their need for closure, or to save the world, he is doing it because of Nora.

Lay Your Penis In The Scanner Please (for real)

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Yeah, this is what you think it is

After Kevin is informed that a group of Ukraine separatists have taken control of a submarine, he is rushed to a bunker that can only be access with his unique biometrics. Here, Lindelof and the rest of the writers pull off one of the funniest jokes of the show, since the unique biometrics that allow Kevin as president to get into the bunker is his penis, which he has to put on a scanner. The joke, obviously has to do with all of the comments over the last few years about Theroux’s penis size, that evolved in popular memes and gifs on the internet. As his bodyguard says, due to the advances on plastic surgery, anyone could replicate his face, “but your penis, they are not gonna get it that length, sir.” Hilarious.

One of the many gifs about Theroux’s penis

Who Is Your Secretary of Defense?

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Look who’s back!

After Kevin enters the bunker, we find out that her Secretary of Defense is… Patti Levin! She is back! It becomes clear that Patti is behind the whole plan, she is the one who has designed the fake intel on the Ukrainian separatists that are an excuse for the United States to nuke the Russians who, in turn, will nuke the United States provoking the end of the world.

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Meg is back to, and with a new love interest… God

We also find out that, in this alternative reality, Meg Abbott (Liv Tyler) is Kevin’s vice-president, and she is actually a changed woman (unlike Patti). Although a member of the Guilty Remnant, she has discover God, and is actually helping the other Kevin (the international Assassin) undo Patti’s plan.

The Fisher Protocol and Kevin’s Identical Twin Brother

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President Kevin learns about the Fisher Protocol

In order for Patti to get the nuclear key that will unleash the end of the world, Patti informs Kevin that he will have to go through the Fisher Protocol, a very bizarre and gruesome procedure by which, Kevin needs to personally extract the key from the body of a volunteer (you are reading that right). The volunteer, obviously is the other Kevin, his identical twin.

This whole storyline is a very Lindelofian (I think I just invented that term) way of presenting the importance of the existential dilemma that Kevin will face: for one of the Kevins to live, the other one has to die, and so it goes for their respective worlds. 

Put Your Faith in Me Mr. Harvey

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Kevin getting ready to enter the bunker

We switch perspectives (President Kevin looks at a reflective surface) and we are back to international assassin Kevin. Since he is the identical twin of President Kevin, he also gets in the bunker (we see again the dick joke) with some help from Meg. There is also a funny joke here when Meg tells Kevin that she has discovered that she loves God, and from Kevin’s earpiece we hear “Tell her that I love her too.” Again, playing with the notion that that voice is God.

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“Tell her I love her too”

Kevin, though, tired of following instructions, even from God!, takes off the ear piece, kills Meg, and looks for the communications room in the bunker in order to talk to Cristopher Sunday.

Why Are You Here?

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Why are you here?

After finally reaching Christopher Sunday, who in this reality, is the Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin realizes that there is no song to stop the rain, that his father was wrong, and so was his narrative about what was happening (the end of the world) and how to stop it (learning an aboriginal songline). But, as Christopher Sunday points out to him (he is the only other character that retains a sense of continuity between both worlds), Kevin already knew that, which as Michael had already asked him, begs the question why is he there?

The interesting point here is that all of the narratives created in our world (Matt’s, Kevin Sr., etc.) failed when confronted with the mystery of this “other place.” No single narrative can capture the complexity and strangeness of that world. God, or the sacred, or the universe, doesn’t want to be reduced to a single narrative.

I Wanna Go Home

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Finally, the two Kevins meet

Finally, the two Kevins meet, and Patti tells President Kevin that he needs to kill Assassin Kevin to get the nuclear key out of him in order to end the world. Both Kevins refuse to be part of that plan, but then Patti brings out the book that President Kevin has been writing (the same that Assassin Kevin has been writing?). It is a sad love story, one in which Kevin acknowledges he has spent his life believing he is a brave man while, indeed, he is a coward, always running away to other places (Jarden, Australia), to other worlds (“the other place”) in order to avoid any sort of feeling and emotion. That’s when it hits both Kevins that this split personality/duality needs to end. Only one Kevin can survive if there is a chance for his happiness. This “other place” is there, it is real, and he has the ability to access it. He may be, indeed, “the most powerful man in the world,” but he doesn’t want to be that, he just wants to go back and be with Nora. That’s when both of them agree to go through with the Fisher protocol. They just want all of this to end.

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Kevin’s other book

What is also interesting in this scene is that The Leftovers is not only a show about religion and faith, but also about narratives. This has been made clear this season through the appearance of two books, both being two sides to Kevin’s story. One is being written by others and imposed on him (the Book of Kevin), the other is the one he wants to write for himself (the romance novel). Here, he has to make a decision about which narrative he wants to live, and he decides that he wants to go back to our world to finish his love story with Nora.

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I wanna go home

The World Is Really Ending, But Not The One You Expected

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The world really ends, but not the one you were expecting

After extracting the key, Patti and President Kevin go to the roof of the building and see the nuclear armageddon unfold. The world has ended, but it is this “other world” that Kevin has decided to end. He might have had the privilege to have accesss to it, but it also became a curse. He understands that he is not supposed to be there, he is not supposed to understand it. It does exist, yes, but maybe is not for humans to play in it and reduce it any form of unifying narrative

Now What?

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Now what?

The episode ends with Kevin coming back after destroying “the other place,” and meets with his father on the roof of Grace’s house. Kevin Sr. is scared (“I am not ready to come down”). He really thought the end of the world was coming, he thought he had a role to play in stopping it. The problem is, might have been wrong all along and is not ready to face the consequences of that. Everything he though he knew, now he realizes was wrong. He then asks his son, “what now?” That’s the great question of The Leftovers, the problem is not what happens when the end of the world is coming, but what do we do when it doesn’t.

You can also read my recaps for The Book of Kevin (Ep 1), Don’t Be Ridiculous (Ep 2), Crazy Whitefella Thinking (Ep 3), “G’Day Melbourne,”  (Ep. 4), “It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World.” (Ep. 5), and “Certified” (Ep. 6).

Next on The Leftovers (hint: Final Episode!!!)

 

 

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9 thoughts on “The Leftovers Season 3 Episode 7 Recap: The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)

    1. I loved it too, and I loved the idea that, for both Kevins the difficult part is not how to stop the end of the world, but what to do when it doesn’t happen.

      Like

  1. I totally agree with you about this show and the meaning is what are you going to do with your life? I have always felt that from the very start. ” this is tragic, is it an opportunity? or is it not?” Dare I say, ” shit happens?” and some messed up stuff too. I see how this happened in NYC after 9/11 – old conventions old ways of doing things changed, and some went back to old tales for comfort and some of us looked for opportunity…with our own lives.

    Liked by 1 person

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