Kevin Sr., absolutely convinced of his own holiness, discarded that gospel out of jealousy and disgust. But he shouldn’t be so dismissive: Just one page of it was powerful enough lure Grace to murder that poor, rude Australian Kevin. Her scene of explaining her story to Kevin Sr. was the kind of tour de force moment that The Leftovers keeps, shockingly, asking of new cast members—see: Mark Linn-Baker—and Lindsay Duncan aptly delivered. In Grace’s narrative of her five kids wandering into the desert and dying after the Departure, The Leftovers found a horrible new permutation of an already horrific event whose possibilities, it might have seemed, the show had exhausted.
Duncan’s controlled performance put a brave face on a shattered soul, and it’s only when one considers the full weight of her tragedy—a tragedy worse, even, than Nora Durst’s—that you can understand why she’d draw so much from a sheet of paper she found on a raggedy old man. The tragedy also explained the subtle, awed change on her face when that raggedy old man told her that she just had the wrong Kevin. For traumatized people especially, the desire to believe in something will survive almost anything, as Kevin Sr. has amply demonstrated.
Sophie, what did you think of Scott Glen’s performance? What was Grace doing with all those tiny shoes when her house guest woke up? Have you ever changed the weather with “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”?
Sophie Gilbert: I have not, but I do want to take a moment to consider weather as an element of this season so far. More often than not it seems to promise divine intervention—remember in the opening interlude with the devout Millerite, when she climbed on the roof the final time and it started to pour with rain? Kevin Sr. seemed similarly surprised when the elements (twice) descended upon him out in the Australian bush, both times after he cursed the universe. Is it coincidence? Sod’s law? Or just a nod to how, when you’re attuned to any kind of sign from the universe, everything can start to seem like a message from God?
Like you, I was hoping that Kevin Sr. would remember more about his two-week acid trip on God’s tongue, and his parlay with Kevin Jr. in the purgatorial hotel. But: If you go back and revisit that particular episode, Kevin Sr. specifically mentioned “God’s tongue” when he was communicating with Kevin Jr. through the television. He might not remember seeing his son (and that entire period seems to be a blackout), but from our perspective as viewers, it lines up.
I also thought the episode dragged a little, and I feel slightly disappointed with how mundane Australia seems to be after the promises last season of a Jarden-like place with spiritual powers (especially since the sign in the Aboriginal area clearly read “Sacred Site”). But one thing I particularly enjoyed was its humor. Kevin Sr.’s pow-wow with Sharon was straight out of Muriel’s Wedding: Sharon told Kevin he was stealing sacred rites from the Aborigines. Kevin told Sharon her government had done the same thing to Aboriginal children for generations. Sharon, furious: “WE APOLOGIZED FOR THAT!”