In the Penultimate Episode, Love May Conquer All — Even the End of the World

The final season of The Leftovers has been nothing short of a doozy, and Episode 7 has fans and critics alike raving. 

“The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)” opened with possibly the strangest interaction we’ve seen in a long time: Kevin and Nora happy. If anyone was questioning whether there had ever been real love or chemistry between these two characters, this bathtub scene lays the discussion to rest. “The two of them always understood each other on a deep, dark level that no one else could reach,” says Vox's Todd VanDerWerff.

Without audiences realizing it, the opening moment was the complete argument for what Kevin would come to discover (finally) for himself at the very end of the episode. As Caroline Framke from Vox puts it, “When Kevin — or more accurately, both Kevins — finally gets to the center of his mental maze … it’s not about God at all. It’s just about Kevin, a well-meaning man who’d nonetheless rather run from his problems than do the hard work of untangling them. It’s about the life he had, the life he wanted, and the woman he still loves.”

On a plot level, the episode was largely about Kevin coming face-to-face with his own demons, aided by the return of Meg (Liv Tyler) and Patti (Ann Dowd) and their casual compliance with the plan to blow up the world. Sean T. Collins at Vulture offers, “It’s a tantalizing glimpse of how The Leftovers might have looked had it gone even farther into the realm of dystopia — if, instead of targeting apocalyptic death cults with drone strikes, the American government and its drones were taken over by one of those cults.”

Meg’s appearance brought some other questions surrounding both Laurie’s recent choice to disappear beneath the ocean, and Nora’s decision to disappear altogether. Murray wonders, “Was anybody else waiting to see if Kevin’s vice-president was going to turn out to be Laurie, or Nora? Or if either of them were the assassin’s ‘inside man?’ In both cases, the show made us wait to see who the mystery person was going to be, and in both cases, it was Meg. Maybe this means that neither woman is dead? (Or maybe it means that since Kevin doesn’t know whether or not they’re dead, his subconscious can’t put them in the other world.)”

Since “International Assassin,” the question of whether Kevin would return to this “alternate world” has hung in the air, but Season 3 Episode 7 finally gave viewers an answer. “This ‘other world’ ... is meant to feel a lot like a vivid dream,” says Noel Murray of The New York Times, “where everyone looks familiar and everything feels incredibly important — until the dreamer wakes up and realizes nothing made sense.” 

Although the scenes set in this place are often playful and trippy, critics point out that the show’s overall sentiments are always at play. “The key to these trips is a combination of predominant Leftovers themes,” writes IndieWire’s Ben Travers, “the known and the unknown; specifically, self-awareness and giving in to the inexplicable.”

The other consistent Leftovers element highlighted in this episode? Humor. Vox mentions, “It doesn't tell jokes so much as let people be authentically witty. Some people can be pretty hilarious and self-deprecating in their darkest hours.” 

And in a nod to how just how silly the show can get, several comments focused on the absurdity of Kevin having to use his penis as a method of security entrance. 

Even show writer Patrick Somerville got in on the joke:

Ultimately, many seem to believe Kevin will now be in a race against time to find Nora and make her see he may have finally figured it all out. To echo Kevin Senior’s question when he realizes life will go on, “What’s next?” Share your thoughts and theories in the comments section below.

More from "The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)"

Also, See What's Coming Up in the Series Finale "The Book of Nora"

Watch the series finale of The Leftovers June 4 at 9 pm on HBO.