The Leftovers: International Assassin
November 23, 2015 3:46 PM - Season 2, Episode 8 - Subscribe

The aftermath of last week's shock ending. Spoilers inside.

From the opening seconds when Kevin poured, naked, from a bathtub like a newborn baby sliding out of his mother, to the final "Holy shit ..." this episode was compelling, game-changing TV.

Kevin finds himself in limbo, with a task to carry out before he can go back. Several threads from previous episodes were tied into what happened in the Hotel from Hell - Holy Wayne, Gladys, the bird, Mary Jamison in her own limbo.

The introduction of the child Patti was a stroke of genius. That final scene with her and Kevin was heartbreaking... "Would it help if I closed my eyes? Would it help if -" Then the final act of mercy/survival with adult Patti.

And who was the man on the bridge and what did he say to Kevin? Nothing in this show, no matter how meaningless it seems, is without purpose. Maybe what he said will be some clue to finding the missing girls.

Fantastic performances in this episode, from Justin Theroux and Ann Dowd (who played three characters - Senator Patti, Body-Double Patti and Down The Well Patti).

I'm distraught we only have two more episodes left. I really, really hope Kevin smiles before the final credits roll. He's surely the most anguished character on TV.
posted by essexjan (16 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'll need to rewatch, but at the end was Virgil in the background, sitting outside his trailer?
posted by essexjan at 4:00 PM on November 23, 2015

This might be one of the best episodes of television I've ever seen. So tense and also funny and then what Kevin does for Patti at the end. I just loved it.
posted by betsybetsy at 7:42 PM on November 23, 2015 [5 favorites]

The introduction of the child Patti was a stroke of genius.

It really was. I've been edging towards annoyed by Patti's presence this season, and this brought her character right back into a sharper, more sympathetic focus.

If you're going to have an episode ostensibly set in the afterlife with a character called Virgil, you'd better do it right, and I think this really lived up to its billing. I can't believe there are only two episodes left.
posted by gladly at 7:49 PM on November 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

This show is amazing. I tell people to watch it but it is hard to find the words to condence it. Absolutely brilliant episode. Fantastic series so far.
posted by futz at 11:45 PM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't remember essexjan!

I need to watch it again just to make sure that I caught everything..
posted by futz at 11:52 PM on November 23, 2015

I'm really interested in the meaning of Mary's presence in this world and it's relationship to Kevin's father's location in a parallel hotel in Perth. Both suggest some kind of folding mechanism between layers of reality, where intersections can occur, e.g., how Kevin's father's antics were causing the fire alarms to go off, and people can get stuck, thereby appearing not to have all of their faculties. But when Holy Wayne, who died in a bathroom stall, shows up here on a toilet, it made me wonder if the whole thing was happening in Kevin's head, right up until the end, when it seems like the show decided to affirm the existence of a supernatural realm, kind of like happened in Twin Peaks. We did not see any of the Departed, though, correct? Or the girls or the cave woman?

Speaking of layers, the aesthetics of the hotel reminded me of the one used in Inception (that lobby was actually played by the CAA building in LA) and that got me thinking about the use of hotels as real and metaphorical in-between worlds. For example, Lost in Translation and the Kevin (!) Finnerty Sopranos episode, which are also steel, marble and glass confections, count but so too do the hotels in The Shining. and Groundhog Day, and even, because of the story-telling approach, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Hotel as an insulated world with dynamics between the permanent (staff) and the transient (guests) is pretty common (see also: Saving Sarah Marshall, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel franchise and hey, here's a list of films and I'll even count The Love Boat and Fantasy Island). But I digress.

Justin Theroux also got to play more than one role, e.g., international assassin Kevin Harvey. I wonder what would have happened if he'd chosen to wear the police jacket or the religious garb. Didn't we see people go by wearing that stuff?
posted by carmicha at 7:37 AM on November 24, 2015 [5 favorites]

I wonder what would have happened if he'd chosen to wear the police jacket or the religious garb. Didn't we see people go by wearing that stuff?

Yeah, when he was being taken to meet Senator Levin, a hooded man wearing the police uniform was led past. And afterwards when Kevin was going back up to his room, a weeping man in the priest outfit was in the elevator with him.
posted by essexjan at 10:22 AM on November 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

The show is about a world where people vanished - literally disappeared into thin air. One moment there, the next gone. This episode didn't introduce "supernatural TV bullshit" (whatever that is) to the show; it affirmed it.

Also, saying that a hallucination is a "wasted hour of television" would imply that every hallucination in the history of drama is wasted because it isn't moving forward some imaginary ball with the words "plot" scribbled in Sharpie upon it.
posted by incessant at 5:09 PM on November 25, 2015 [10 favorites]

Kevin's father's antics were causing the fire alarms to go off

aaaaaahh how did I not realize this??

Also, the water must be referencing the water from the lake? The one that everyone pays a fortune for a taste because it's magical. I love it that Limbo Virgil is all like "don't drink the water" and then he does, because IRL he's dead and he can be as thirsty as he can here.

All the other dead characters made this episode so much more enjoyable. Wayne and his "didn't the last time you saw me I was also on the toilet?"
posted by numaner at 11:43 AM on December 4, 2015

I loved this episode. Watching it all I could think was "how can TV this poignant be allowed to exist?". I also am kind of hating this show, it took me over a week to muster up the energy to watch it. It's brilliant but it's also depressing and bleak as fuck. Mostly I just want to watch fun stuff on the teevee, you know?

edeezy, I think if you're look for a show that makes sense and goes somewhere, you're going to be disappointed. The Leftovers is all about exploring raw uncomfortable emotion. Mostly alienation, also nihilism and outright misandry. These are not emotions that TV shows normally wallow in. And the show has no interest in going anywhere or revealing The Mystery. The whole thing about the departure is it's a MacGuffin, an excuse to create this emotional situation the show explores. I agree that a hallucination-within-the-show is a bit obnoxious, but it's within bounds for this kind of show, and I think well executed for it.

For me this show most strongly recalled Twin Peaks and Mulholland Drive. David Lynch dream logic. A bit too on the nose for that actually, I'd prefer to see the show do its own thing. But then it did in humanizing Patti.

This is the second time Kevin has crawled out of the watery ground this season.
posted by Nelson at 9:26 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think the afterworld was pretty resolutely unmagical, even as it went by its own surreal rules.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:51 AM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've been binge-watching this show over the past few days and I've really loved every episode, but not this one. All the in-jokes and references were fine, but there are really no stakes when your main character is dreaming or has slipped into the next world or whatever. I haven't been a big fan of ghost Patti all season. That the show would dedicate a whole episode to getting rid of her seems like a lot of real estate to waste.
posted by crossoverman at 7:03 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Late to the party, but despite loving this season in general, I really disliked this episode. I hated the Finnerty episode of the sopranos as well, this sort of thing is just not my cup of tea.
posted by skewed at 10:21 PM on August 31, 2018

Much much later to the party. I have been watching an episode or two a night for the last couple of weeks, with occasional pauses now and then for the insistent demands of Real Life. Such a pause occurred recently, so I came into this with a couple of days’ gap since the last one. I was pleasingly disoriented along with Kevin for the first little bit.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:35 PM on January 13, 2020

I definitely don't think it's a waste. It makes me think of the studies they're doing on using psychedelics to treat depression and other mental illness. People occasionally report encounters with dead family members during a trip, and even when they understand the experience wasn't real, actual psychological healing takes place as they're able to resolve issues they couldn't face in real life. Ie. just because the setting isn't real doesn't mean the characters can't experience growth as a result of it.
posted by antinomia at 3:39 PM on February 23, 2020

"Also known as the Ameles potamos (river of unmindfulness), the Lethe flowed around the cave of Hypnos and through the Underworld where all those who drank from it experienced complete forgetfulness."

-Wikipedia, "Lethe"
posted by mabelstreet at 11:49 PM on January 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

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