The Leftovers: “International Assassin” Review

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Posted November 24, 2015 by Chad Waller in Nerdy Bits

What the hell did I just watch?

So, I never got around to reviewing last week’s episode which ended with Kevin killing himself so he could go battle Patti in the…I’m still not sure where. It was a fantastic episode that, upon its conclusion, I knew would lead into the downright-bizarre ongoings of “International Assassin;” however, I never could have guessed how far it would go. It went really, really far, as it turns out. The thing with The Leftovers is that I’m not sure it really should go full bizarre. The show has always been strange and somewhat supernatural–I’ve talked about this in every review thus far for this season–but “International Assassin” might have jumped off the deep end.

I’m not sure how to take it.

Kevin wakes up in a hotel bathtub, completely naked, and just as confused as the rest of us. As he gets up and puts his clothes on, he receives a knock on his door. Someone sent him flowers. He takes the flowers and then has to fight the flower-deliveryman to the death because as it turns out, Kevin is now an international assassin! His target: Patti of the Guilty Remnant who is now a senator in this fine otherwordly United States.

“International Assassin” is a trip from start to finish, first because James Bond has little place tonally in The Leftovers and secondly because none of it is real. We saw Kevin drink poison and die, and then we saw Virgil put a bullet through his skull (ohho! I just got that reference). As of “A Most Powerful Adversary,” they were dead. That means we really have to treat this episode as a dream sequence, one with hazy logic and lots of pretty pictures to unpack.

Or so I’d like to.

Because this is The Leftovers, nothing is really what it seems, especially when we’re dealing with death. The backbone of this series is that two percent of the world’s population up and vanished, and Kevin has now spent the entire season with the ghost of Patti following him around. Whatever strange thing has happened to this world, it directly involves the afterlife. One could argue that everything that went on in this episode didn’t happen and that Patti wasn’t actually following Kevin around; he was just hallucinating. His father heard voices, and now he is too. In a logically-bound series, I’d be willing to hear that out, but The Leftovers isn’t exactly married to logic.

Plus, in a series with only ten episodes per season, you really can’t throw away a full episode on a fever dream. There isn’t enough time for that, even if you load it up with tons of metaphor and disturbing imagery.

I’m left believing that everything that just happened in “International Assassin” was real on some level. Kevin did go to a halfway house for the afterlife, he did kill a bunch of people–sending them God knows where–and he did battle Patti to return to life. I can conclude two things from this:

The way death and life interact is now seriously screwed up in this world and needs to be fixed.

Kevin might be a monster.

The first conclusion takes this show a bit too close to fantasy for my tastes; however, I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. The Leftovers has yet to disappoint me, and I don’t foresee it doing so anytime soon, fantasy elements or not. I’m also speculating and not apt to claim the sky is falling because of that.

The second conclusion is a bit more interesting, because even though Kevin has done some very questionable things throughout this series, he’s never dipped into full on monster. Now he’s killed a bunch of people, at least three of whom were innocent, and murdered Patti, who, by the way, was in the form of a young girl. The only reason there’s a “might” there is because of what Virgil said last episode, “Your adversary will try and trick you.” If this was all a trick by Patti, then bravo for her. She certainly fooled me. It’s hard to buy that though, given the conversation she has with Kevin when they’re both at the bottom of a well. It’s too heartfelt and meaningful, and when she says she’s scared, I believe her.

Kevin kills her anyways.

Unless he doesn’t because they were already dead and oh God what the hell did I just watch?

Perhaps the best part of this episode was how difficult it was to watch. From start to finish I felt at a disadvantage, not so much confused but threatened, like someone was watching me from afar. Its strangeness made it unpredictable, meaning every time Kevin did something, I had no idea what might happen next. Couple that with the horrible things he has to do–including pushing a child down a well–and I’ve come away kind of disturbed.

So yes, I still really don’t know how to take this one. The best I can say is that it is entertaining, compelling, and one of the most interesting episodes to a show I’ve ever seen. We’ll have to leave all of its dark implications for the next episode, which now has a lot more questions to answer than your typical The Leftovers episode.


About the Author

Chad Waller

Chad Waller is the cofounder of Dual Wield Software, a two-man video game company that just published The Land of Glass on Steam. You should check it out! You can follow him on Twitter @DualWieldSoft and find his company page on Facebook with a quick search.