Every week I feel this horrible inner conflict when it comes to The Leftovers. I’m so excited to watch it every week and love it more and more. However, I know I’m getting closer to the end and I’m really going to miss this show.
Last week, Carrie Coon hit a home run with her performance. This week it was Scott Glenn. He was asked to carry about 95% of the episode himself and was riveting the entire time. After barely any screen time in season two, we got a lot of questions answered in this episode about what has been happening to Kevin Garvey Sr. As with anything concerning The Leftovers, what is actually happening and character motivation is up for interpretation.
The show opens with Kevin Sr. standing in the middle of the chaos of the departure. This is the moment he started hearing the voices that got him put in a mental institution. We then join Kevin Sr. in Australia. Through multiple coincidences or signs, depending on what you believe, Kevin Sr. is of the belief that he needs to learn all of the songs of the Indigenous Australian songline in order to stop an apocalyptic flood. Here’s a quick rundown:
- The voices told Kevin Sr. to go to Australia
- He went on a multi-week drug trip on something called “God’s Tongue” (which is what Kevin Jr. witnessed when he saw his father on TV in the hotel)
- He awoke to see a chicken on TV that came from an egg that survived the departure and apparently now counsels people
- He finds the chicken and tells it he is searching for purpose
- The chicken pecks at a cassette of conversations between the Kevins on a road trip to Niagra
- When he plays the tape, he hears Kevin Jr. begging him to sing the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” in order to stop the rain. Kevin Sr. interprets this as a sign that he must learn all of the songs of the Indigenous Australian songline in order to stop an apocalyptic flood
All of this leads to Kevin Sr. breaking laws in Australia by going on sacred land and learning every song except for one. Kevin Sr. must find tribal leader Christopher Sunday to learn the last song. He makes a deal to fix Sunday’s air conditioner in exchange for the song. However, Kevin falls off the roof and kills Christopher Sunday after landing on him.
Kevin finds himself lost in the middle of nowhere before eventually witnessing a man burn himself to death, getting bitten by a poisonous snake, and eventually passing out at the bottom of a cross. We find out that he was actually found and saved by Grace, the woman that drowned the other “Kevin” last week. The reason she knew about the immortal police chief Kevin is because of the “scripture” found in Kevin Sr’s hand.
There is so much more to the plot, but I want to reflect on how I interpreted this episode. First of all, I think a lot is summed up in what Kevin Sr. tells the chicken he is searching for… purpose. It fits perfectly that The Leftovers made a conversation between a man and a chicken momentous. I believe that Kevin Sr. had always felt a sense of control. He was the police chief, in charge of law and order. The day the departure happened, law and order went out the window. I believe it was too much for Kevin Sr. to handle, which led to his mental issues. Then he was replaced by his son. Now he searches for purpose and has convinced himself that he is the savior of the world and that is his cross to bear. You can see how threatened he feels when he reads “The Book of Kevin” and it is mainly about Jr, not Sr. This is HIS story, his son is just a part of it. As much as he plays the part of reluctant messiah, he is holding on to this mission for dear life, hoping he won’t be replaced by his son once more.