Each week following episodes of season two of The Leftovers, Sophie Gilbert and Spencer Kornhaber will discuss new characters, old visitors, and whether smoking really is the best way to express profound nihilism.
Kornhaber: Little can be said with certainty about the insane ending to this episode, in which Kevin Garvey gulped a cup of poison and the man who vowed to bring him back to life instead squirted the supposed antidote on the floor and shot himself. We don’t know if the star of the show is dead, for real, for good. We don’t why old man Virgil did what he did—is he still haunted by the “powerful adversary” who made him do evil things? Is he trying to join Kevin in the spirit world? Is he just a total asshole? And we don’t know if Michael was in on the act, or if he just walked in on the aftermath and started tampering with the crime scene for fun.
But we do know something about why it all went down. Kevin chose to listen to a pedophile he barely knew advocating a suicidal battle in the spiritual realm rather than listen to his wife, a professional therapist, who said he needed anti-psychotic medication. The mystical explanation, the one that validated Kevin’s perception that Patti exists—despite all rational evidence to the contrary—was more alluring than the one rooted in science and relationships and the idea that ghosts aren’t real. But accepting the latter explanation would have meant Kevin would end up in the same situation—institutionalized, medicated, disrespected—as his father, and I suspect that fact had a lot to do with his seemingly bizarre choice. So does the universal human phenomenon that Laurie talked about: yearning for meaning in the face of unsolvable confusion.