It's no wonder that Kevin Garvey's confidence was shaken in "Penguin One, Us Zero" – his late night activities with the "mystery man" were called into question by everyone around him: his therapist Anthony, boss Lucy Warburton, direct report Dennis and even his daughter, Jill. Viewers had their own theories about the lonely dog shooter… none of which bode well for Kevin's mental state.
"The only other person in Mapleton who seems to see the man is Kevin's daughter, Jill," Vox writer Brandon Ambrosino notes. "While Jill takes a six-pack of beer from the stranger…Aimee doesn't acknowledge the man, because I don't actually think she sees him." Ambrosino's bottom line? "Only the Garveys are capable of seeing this man, or imagining him."
Some viewers take Ambrosino's conjecture a step further, arguing that only Kevin is interacting with the man. A Reddit user theorizes that the girls never saw the man at all, and that Jill asked "Who was that?" only out of curiosity when she hears her dad talking from the other room. Aimee "ignored him completely," while the man told Jill to " 'Put this in the fridge for your daddy,' which is something Kevin might say to Jill." Another viewer corroborates: "The daughter referred to the beer… I guess we have to assume that Captain Dad-Who-Talks-to-Deers was actually holding the beer, and we half-witted viewers were watching the scene through his eyes."
One Reddit commenter argues that Kevin "is an unreliable narrator. Notice how shortly after the bald man rings his doorbell his daughter and her friend show up? Could be [the girls have thought] he was opening the door for them, while in his head [Kevin was] talking to someone that isn't there." Another user points out that Kevin "was clearly looking for beer in the fridge. How coincidental is it that the hunter just shows up with beer, let alone the same brand of beer he was drinking earlier." Several Reddit threads came to a similar conclusion: "I'm getting a Fight Club vibe from Baldy."
Dustin Rowles of Uproxx believes that Mystery Man isn't generated from Kevin's consciousness, but that he was "sent to Kevin by the crazy voices in the head of Kevin’s father."
The A.V. Club's Sonia Saraiya is still on the fence: "On one hand, [Mystery Man] is speaking in riddles, calling himself “Nobody” like he’s in an Emily Dickinson poem, telling Kevin they’re doing the Lord’s work, making creepy insinuations that he might be totally in Kevin’s head. And on the other hand, he hands beer to Jill and Aimee; he’s got chaw stuck firm in his bottom lip; and he sheepishly tells Kevin that he wants company while he’s hunting because he’s lonely. Then Kevin’s father tells him that one of his voices said someone was being sent to guide him, and you’re forced to wonder: Is this man a literary device? Magical? Or just some guy?"