Kevin's (Justin Theroux) deteriorating mental health has been pretty much ignored so far in Season 2 of HBO's "The Leftovers." The people around the troubled cop -- Nora (Carrie Coon), Matt (Christopher Eccleston), the Murphys -- have all had too much on their respective plates to notice that Kevin is having conversations with imaginary friends while redoing the wallpaper. That changes in episode 7, "A Most Powerful Adversary," when Kevin is forced to face the woman who has been haunting him since the Garveys showed up in Miracle -- Patti Levin (Ann Dowd).
"She's gone," Patti chides. "It's going to be a hard day, buddy."
Yes, when the episode begins, Nora is nowhere to be found. The news that Kevin was talking to imaginary friends was a bit too much for the already fragile Nora to take. So she splits, and Kevin is stuck wandering around town looking for answers with one half of a pair of handcuffs clasped around his wrist.
That leads him to Virgil (Steven Williams), the spiritual guru the episode reveals to be John Murphy's (Kevin Carroll) sexually abusive father. Michael Murphy (Jovan Adepo) takes Kevin to see his grandfather and reveals that Kevin has been there before -- on the night of the Earthquake. Virgil has some advice about Patti.
"She's not in you. She's on you," he says. "And if you want to throw her off, you have to do it on her turf -- the other side."
"How do I get there," Kevin asks.
"You have to die," Virgil replies.
He tells Kevin that he must die and face his "powerful adversary" and then he will be reborn free -- that is why Kevin tried to drown himself in the lake. How does Virgil know? That is what happened to him when John shot him -- shooting Virgil is the reason John had been in prison. Virgil offers to help Kevin, telling him he needs a "guide," but Kevin is spooked.
He storms off and gets in a screaming match with Patti in the woods where it becomes clearer and clearer that what Patti "wants" Kevin to do is to kill himself.
"The only time I ever felt free was when I picked up that piece of glass and stuck it in my neck," she tells him.
Patti suggests they go back to Virgil and "do battle," but Kevin says he has responsibilities as a father. However, Patti suggests Jill (Margaret Qualley) might be better off without him and it is clear that cuts him deep.
Speaking of Jill, she is less than thrilled about her father potentially ruining another happy family for her, especially since he will not even tell her what is wrong between him and Nora. She feels let down, alone, and Michael is "not sure if he loves her yet." Things have been better for Jill and she has some very simple instructions for her father -- "fix it."
And for a second, it looks like he just might, because all of a sudden Laurie Garvey (Amy Brenneman) is in town. Kevin's ex-wife shows up in Miracle searching for Tom (Chris Zylka), but it soon becomes clear that it's Kevin who needs her help. He comes to her for advice about Patti and she gives it to him straight -- he is in the middle of a psychotic breakdown. Not that anyone is surprised, but, no, Patti, is not real. Kevin has imagined her based on information Laurie told him about her when Patti was her patient. He needed something to help him make sense of all the pain, something to believe in.
Kevin asks Laurie to stay with him in Miracle and help him get better. It's an emotional scene and it is hard to believe it is really the first episode the couple have talked on the show post-Oct. 4 -- Laurie speaks to Kevin in a Season 1 flashback. Laurie is worried what Jill will think when he sees her, but she agrees to come stay with Kevin. However, once Kevin and Laurie get back to the house he gets a call from Nora, who has been ignoring his calls the whole episode, and all bets are off.
Earlier in the episode Jill grilled her father about if he really loved Nora and really wanted them all to be a family. He says it's the "only thing" he wants, but fans know better and the show has alluded often --usually via Patti -- that Kevin might not love Nora. She is a life raft for him; something, like Patti, to believe in. Tempted by Nora's phone call and the illusion that they can make each other happy, Kevin bails on a chance to actually get better with Laurie -- leaving a very angry Jill to find her mother in their house alone -- and goes to Virgil. He's ready to die to get Nora back.
Virgil gives him a drink of poison that has the effect of a heroin overdose and promises to revive Kevin with an epinephrine shot. Kevin is about to toss it back when Patti, of all people, screams for him to stop. Suddenly, Patti, whose presence has always represented the vocal minority of Kevin's conscious, is not tempting him toward suicide, but is the small part of him that knows this is a bad idea. Unfortunately, Kevin has finally decided not to listen to voices.
He drink the poison and Virgil ... does nothing. Instead of giving Kevin the shot, he shoots himself in the head. Michael walks in the door finding both of the men looking pretty definitively dead and drags Kevin's lifeless body away.
Is Kevin dead for good? Probably not. Virgil did say Kevin needed a "guide" on the "other side" and his name would imply the show is headed toward some sort of resurrection for the characters -- Virgil told Kevin he came back from the dead before! However, fans will have to wait for episode 8 to find out.