"The Leftovers" may be on HBO, but it is certainly no "Game of Thrones." When Virgil (Steven Williams) let a poisoned Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) die on his cabin floor at the end of episode 7 of Season 2, the collective gasp from the show's fans was not one of shock or mourning about the loss of a beloved character -- there was no doubt that Kevin was coming back -- but one of anticipation for where this wildly ambitious series was going next. That turned out to be "The Leftovers" answer to "Twin Peaks" and its Black Lodge as Kevin journeyed to the "other side" in episode 8, "International Assassin."
When the episode begins, Kevin wakes up naked in a bathtub in a hotel. When he gets his bearings, he looks for some clothes in a closet marked with a Post It note reading, "Know first who you are and then adorn yourself properly." Inside is a priest's outfit, a cop's uniform, Guilty Remnant garb and a black suit. Kevin chooses the suit, and no sooner does he have it on than a mysterious man with flowers knocks on the door before attacking him. They fight until Kevin knocks his assailant unconscious. Kevin leaves and puts the "Do Not Disturb" card on the door handle.
So, this is clearly no normal hotel. There are oddly inviting bottles of water everywhere, and all of the ghostly guests are preoccupied with a bird that has gotten loose in the lobby. Kevin wanders aimlessly before finally recognizing the concierge -- it's Virgil.
Concierge Virgil has Kevin meet him in a parking garage, where he eventually tells him that when he chose his outfit he assumed the chosen profession of international assassin -- that explains the attack from earlier. His target is Patti Levin (Ann Dowd), making good on Virgil's promise that they would do battle on the "other side." Kevin is to kill Patti with a gun hidden in the bathroom when they meet later. See, (Sen.) Patti Levin is running for president of the United States as the leader of the Guilty Remnant and Kevin is checked into the hotel as Kevin "Harvey," a generous donor to the Levin campaign. Virgil also gives Kevin some important advice -- "Don't drink the water."
After some intense Guilty Remnant vetting, Kevin gets his face-to-face with Patti, where she hammers home her campaign's message that love and relationships are relics post-Oct. 14.
"Our cave collapsed, Kevin," says Patti. "We can keep digging around for signs of life, or we can transform."
Kevin hears her out, but when it's time to take a picture, he retrieves the gun from the bathroom and dispatches Patti's aides, including bodyguard Holy Wayne (Paterson Joseph). Patti protests that she is not really Patti Levin, but just a body double. However, Virgil warned him she would say as much. Kevin shoots Patti in the head.
The only thing is, nothing happens after that. Then Kevin remembers something his father told him through the television set in his hotel room -- "Take her to the well." Throughout this hallucinatory hotel trip, Kevin has been constantly running into a negligent father ("Mad Men" vet Gary Basaraba) and young girl (Darby Camp). After a talk with the father, Kevin realizes the man is Neil, Patti's ex-husband. He also realizes that the girl is not just a young girl -- it is Patti Levin. Kevin kills Neil after he dismisses his "daughter" as a loud nuisance.
Kevin takes Patti and goes to ask Virgil for advice about his next move, except Virgil no longer recognizes him. He drank the water -- "I was so thirsty." The concierge does give Kevin directions to the well ... in Jarden, Texas. Kevin drives Patti to the well, where residents traditionally throw in whatever they feel burdened by in their lives, and Patti does not stop talking the entire time.
But when Kevin gets to the well, he struggles to finish off his "most powerful adversary." He can not help but see Patti as the traumatized, neglected girl she once was, and he now has an empathy for her that makes killing her -- even in whatever "place" this is -- difficult.
"Would it help if I said I deserved it," a helpful Patti suggests.
"You don't," says Kevin, bursting into tears.
Patti, though, validating Neil's accusation that she never stops talking, keeps suggesting ways to help Kevin justify killing her. He can't take it. He just pushes her.
She does not die, however, and instead transforms into a now very injured adult Patti. Kevin climbs down into the well. Patti tells him about appearing on "Jeopardy" and winning enough money to leave Neil, but being too afraid to do it anyway. She describes the intimidation and isolation of a veteran "Jeopardy" player never acknowledging her in the green room.
"There's a power to that -- silence," the Guilty Remnant leader asserts.
She tells Kevin she is afraid and he holds her. Then, he drowns her in the well. An earthquake follows and soon Kevin is emerging from the grave Michael Murphy (Jovan Adepo) dug for him back in the "real world." Michael has been waiting for him, but can't believe his eyes.
"Holy s---," he yells, as the show cuts to credits. Well, that was certainly a wild ride.
"The Leftovers" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on HBO.