Understatement of the year, that one, as Kevin wakes up to find Nora’s left him and taken the baby with her, Jill’s furious that he screwed up their second chance at a family (not entirely fair, Jill), Ghost Patti’s still haunting him, and he’s handcuffed to the bed, with no keys in sight.
Things proceed from bad to mad as he embarks on a sort of odyssey round town to try and remove the cuff, contact Nora and fix things, with Patti taunting and tormenting him throughout. Except, interestingly, when he meets with the two people who offer him a way to get rid of her. Psychiatrist Laurie gently suggests this is a real-world problem with a real-world solution: a psychotic break requiring medication and treatment. Michael’s grandfather Virgil, meanwhile, offers an infinitely more mystical diagnosis, with a far more radical way out, leaving a gleeful Patti to offer a knowing wink to the trope-savvy audience: “…. the solution to all your problems (is) a magical black man on the edge of town? That’s borderline racist is what it is.”
In fairness to the show, though, “A Most Powerful Adversary” is based on something much more complicated than that, playing as it does on the Leftovers’ usual themes of faith, reason, guilt and pain, with gut-wrenching consequences. Because no tv death stays secret on the Internet, I was spoiled for REDACTED, but it was still a brilliantly acted, beautiful yet shocking piece of television with a horrible sense of inevitability hanging over the whole episode and indeed most of REDACTED’s story since season 1 episode 1. On one view, it’s surprising that he hasn’t done something this drastic before now – after all, how much punishment can one person take? (Unless they’re Matt Jamison obviously – that dude’s pain threshold seems infinite.) Whether it sticks is another matter, of course. The braver, narratively more risky thing would be to keep REDACTED dead, I suppose, but there are plenty of ways within the rules of the show’s universe that he can be resurrected, either literally or figuratively, and it would work just fine. Let’s see which option they pick.