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Making Sense of this Week's 'The Leftovers'

By Dustin Rowles | The Leftovers | November 22, 2015 |

By Dustin Rowles | The Leftovers | November 22, 2015 |

It’s almost impossible to pull off a successful dream sequence on television, much less devote an entire episode to what is tantamount to a dream. Nobody wants to hear about dreams in the real-life, why would we want to watch one play out on television?

We knew from the outset that what Kevin Garvey was experiencing this week was not real. We knew we were traveling through a form of the afterlife with him (guided, helpfully, by Virgil in a nod to Dante).

Even after predicting the outcome almost immediately (and certainly, by the first sight of a bird, dead or otherwise), huge credit goes to Damon Lindelof for making us care when the stakes were ethereal. Kevin Garvey’s mind was having a fight with itself. This was not about Kevin vs. Patti; it never has been. Since the beginning of this season, it’s been about whether Kevin wanted to live or if he wanted to end his own life.

Kevin Garvey chose life.

In a lengthy dream sequence that essentially mixed up different memories from his subconscious — from spy movies to The Godfather to run-ins with Gladys and Wayne, to fears that Mary would die, to his own subconscious reasons for smoking — Kevin vanquished the spirit of Patti Levin from his life, but not before humanizing her. In other words, he came to terms with his own guilt, but not before owning it. Instead of pushing away or repressing his feelings, he embraced them.

He hated Patti, of course, just as he hated dealing with his own emotions, recognizing his failings as a father and as a husband. He didn’t want to kill Patti because he knew it would mean confronting reality. Patti couldn’t bring herself to leave Neal even when she had the means to do so because she would no longer have her husband to blame for her miserable lot in life. Kevin didn’t want to get rid of Patti for the same reasons; it would mean moving on and no longer having Patti to blame for his fuck-ups.

Of course, now that Kevin has chosen life, and chose to accept responsibility for his own actions and feelings, he’s got to confront his relationship with Nora anew. He has to ask himself if he really wanted that baby (based on that conversation with Senator Levin, it certainly doesn’t sound like it). He has to deal with his role in Evie’s disappearance. He has to accept that he lives in a world where two percent of the population disappeared one day, and he has to deal with the fact that he came back from the dead.

At least, he’ll be able to do so with a clear mind and a better understanding of Laurie’s motivations to join the Guilty Remnant. He also better understands the GR: There’s power in silence.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.