‘The Leftovers’ Review: “The Book of Kevin”

It’s so wonderful to have The Leftovers back.

The third and final season premiere, “The Book of Kevin”, opens with a flashback scene. It serves a similar purpose to last season’s Cavewoman sequence. It sets the tone thematically for the weeks to come. We’re placed in the 1800’s, following a woman and her family as they wait repeatedly for an impending visit from a higher power. Her husband and child eventually give up and leave, but she persists. The event never takes place. The woman alone is left to wander through a nearby town while everyone stares and laughs.

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In present day, the seventh anniversary of the departure is just weeks away. Matt Jamison preaches about the significance of Miracle, Texas, saying that if something were to happen, it would happen in Miracle. Fliers and television reports about the end of the world are seen throughout the episode. We later learn that Mary plans to leave Matt. He’s become obsessed with Miracle, and won’t let her leave the town’s borders in fear that she’ll return to her coma. Matt is even writing a book about Kevin, meant to become a bible of sorts. “The new testament is getting old,” Mary tells Kevin about her husband’s project. Just like the woman in the intro, Matt risks losing those around him because of his faith.

“The Book of Kevin” throws us through multiple time jumps and reorients us to a new status quo so quickly, there’s hardly any time to process what happens to Meg, Evie, and the rest of the Guilty Remnant that are stationed at the visitor center. They are nuked, apparently by the government. We later learn the incident was covered up and reported as a gas leak. It makes sense, given the government’s hatred of, and lack of tolerance for, the GR. But it’s still sad to think we’ll never see Meg’s sinister smile again. It’s an unspeakably tragic end for Evie as well, as she abandoned her family for something she believed in, and paid the ultimate price for it.

Following that shocking incident, we jump to Miracle three years after the GR’s invasion. Kevin is the police chief, and he’s “doing better now,” as he tells Laurie. Of course, we later see him tie a plastic bag around his head and suffocate. So he seems to be killing himself as part of his daily routine… but relatively speaking, he is doing better.

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There are so many parallels and nods to previous seasons in “The Book of Kevin.” We see the return of Dean, who believes dogs are taking human form and seek to control the world. But Dean isn’t the only reminder of Kevin’s time in Mapleton. The baptism protestors start a riot with Matt’s congregation, who are dressed in all white. Kevin tries to break it up, and we are treated to a slow motion sequence of pure chaos, similar to the “Heroes Day” showdown from the pilot.

Kevin decides to grab everyone’s attention by jumping into the potentially poisonous lake, the same one he tried to kill himself in while sleep walking last season. What is Kevin risking in this scenario? In his view, nothing. Throughout the episode he displays a disregard for his life, since he thinks he cannot truly die. Later on, during the shootout with Dean, he seems disappointed when Tommy comes to his aid and kills Dean, as if he wasn’t in immediate danger.

Kevin has accepted the miraculous events that have happened to him in the past, and seems to be comfortable with them. He casually talks to Laurie about coming back from the dead. He tells Tommy the story of how he had to kill three people, referring to Patty and the two guards in the hotel. He commits suicide before brushing his teeth in the morning. So why is he so appalled by Matt’s book? “I’m not Jesus,” he tells Matt, who then responds with “I’m not saying you are, but the beards looks good on you.”

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The most surprising character shift comes from John Murphy, who has gone from skeptic to true believer. He’s taken over the palm reading business from the man who’s life he ruined for doing the same thing three years earlier. He’s now married to Laurie, and is working alongside her.

And then there’s Agent Nora of the DSD. We don’t see much of her in this episode. What we do see is from Kevin’s perspective, who is concerned about her. She’s lost Lilly — we don’t yet know how — and is in an arm cast. Next week’s episode looks to be entirely focused on her, so we should find some answers then.

But Nora is the subject of this episode’s most shocking moment. That ending. Wow. A person with gray hair is capturing and transporting birds (the cage looks similar to the one Virgil had outside of his trailer last season) in a rural setting. It’s impossible to make out who it is, until we see the person’s face. It’s an older Nora, and this is apparently a flash forward. She is asked if the name “Kevin” means anything to her. She says no.

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This reveal reminds me of Lost’s stunning cliffhanger in “Through the Looking Glass.” It’s the kind of moment that turns the series on its head and makes you wonder where it’s all going to lead. Well, there’s only seven episodes left, so we’ll find out soon enough.

Other notes:

  • Kevin opens his bedroom closet to reveal a wardrobe similar to the one seen in “International Assassin.” This time, Kevin chooses the police chief identity.
  • John’s beard, glasses, and outfit are very fitting to his new lifestyle, giving off a carefree 70’s vibe. Kudos to the wardrobe designers on that one.
  • Jill rings the doorbell. “Is this the house where the fucked up family lives?” Quote of the night.
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