Each week following episodes of the third and final season of The Leftovers, Sophie Gilbert and Spencer Kornhaber will discuss HBO’s drama about the aftermath of 2 percent of the world’s population suddenly vanishing.
Spencer Kornhaber: In its second to last episode ever, “The Most Powerful Man In the World (And His Identical Twin Brother),” The Leftovers finally answered the burning question on viewers’ minds: Why’d Kevin grow a beard? His lumberjack look, it turns out, resulted from Nora requesting it during a bathtub canoodling session. Which would have made a most maudlin subject for an episode-opening flashback with were it not for the discussion topic in that tub: the disposal of these doomed lovers’ corpses. Nora wants to be incinerated—as per usual. Kevin wants to be stuffed, setting up one last airing of Nora’s demented sense of humor: “I’m the one that has to have sex with that abomination. I’m going to dress it up like I want.”
In Kevin’s beard we have an example of The Leftovers’ sneaky brilliance. What once seemed like a standard style changeup between seasons of a TV show actually had a payoff both emotionally (the bathtub scene) and the logistically (it allowed us to tell apart the two Kevins). Similar cleverness with detail was seen throughout tonight’s installment of alternate-reality TV, an hour of outright nonsense that impressively delivered a heap of suspense, pathos, and humor. The episode also resolved the question of whether the world would indeed end in biblical flooding—and settled the three-season battle within Kevin’s own psyche.