"A Most Powerful Adversary" is the seventh episode of Season 2, and overall the seventeenth produced hour of The Leftovers. It originally aired on November 15, 2015.
Recurring Themes Edit
- Memories: Kevin has flashes of waking up in the drained basin in “A Matter of Geography” and Patti’s suicide in “Cairo.”
- National Geographic: Patti references Cairo, Egypt, subject of an article in the May 1972 National Geographic entitled “Cairo, Troubled Capital of the Arab World.” In Virgil’s trailer, Kevin’s attention is drawn to a taxidermied galago (an African primate also known as a “bushbaby”) clinging to a branch; it looks remarkably like a photo on the third page of the May 1972 National Geographic, which is an ad for enrolling in National Geographic Society, highlighting a Society-funded research project involving the “bushbaby.” When Virgil shoots himself, his blood splatters on a watercolor of an island which includes Japanese characters which appear on page 671 of the magazine; they spell the name of Futagami Jima (“twin gods island”), an isolated island which is the subject of the article “Living in a Japanese Village.” Virgil has a trinket on his table that resembles the Egyptian depiction of a sphinx; the Great Sphinx of Giza statue is featured in a photograph on page 651 of the magazine as part of the “Cairo” article.
Cultural References Edit
- Patti refers to the “wishing cup,” which was actually found in the tomb of Tutankhamun, not Amenhotep as she states.
- Michael is putting out the African American Heritage Hymnal in the church, as Matt did in “Orange Sticker.”
- Virgil complains about stereotypes arising from William Friedkin’s iconic 1973 horror film The Exorcist.
- Virgil offering to act as a “guide” alludes to Dante Alighieri’s fourteenth century Italian narrative poem The Divine Comedy, in which the ancient Roman poet Virgil acts as a guide to Dante’s pilgrim through the underworld and purgatory. Notably, as the historical Virgil died in 19 B.C., before the birth of Christ, he cannot accompany Dante’s pilgrim into paradise.
- The Prairie Motor Inn sign advertises free HBO (the channel The Leftovers aired on).
- The final edit of this episode only departs from Kevin’s perspective for one scene, when Jill visits Michael in the church. The original cut was about 74 minutes long and featured close to ten minutes of Jill “having a little adventure through Miracle,” but the producers ultimately decided those scenes undercut the anxiety of following Kevin’s psychological journey continuously. Damon Lindelof has cited this as the hardest cut of the second season, particularly as he believes Jill ended up underserved as a character in the season overall.
- The hardware store owner is learning Russian.
Book to Show Edit
- Nora leaving Kevin without explanation occurs in the book, albeit under very different circumstances from the show. In the book, she leaves during a Valentine’s Day dinner while Kevin is in the restroom, after he has emotionally told her that he heard from Tom for the first time in months, and she realizes that her internal response is “bitterness and envy so strong it was indistinguishable from hatred...” She subsequently ignores his calls and visits to her house. This occurs in the book a couple of months before Nora’s plan to leave town is thwarted by her finding the baby left on Kevin’s doorstep, leading to their reunion. In contrast, on the show, Nora leaving takes place several months after finding the baby, when she and Kevin have been living together and have moved to another state together, and her motivation in leaving is much less emotional and more practical: the show’s Kevin is far more unstable than the book’s, and Nora leaves to protect not only herself, but the baby Lily and Mary, a character who does not appear in the book.
- Virgil says, “It won’t be long now,” a Guilty Remnant mantra from the book which has previously appeared on the show in “Gladys” and “Cairo.”
- "Where Is My Mind?" by Maxence Cyrin (Kevin and Laurie at the gate)
- "Where Is My Mind?" by the Pixies (Kevin drives to the fire house) (the uses of both versions of the song call back to the Pixies original being used for Kevin in "A Matter of Geography" and the Cyrin cover for Laurie in "Off Ramp")
- "Departure (Reflection)" by Max Richter (Kevin and Jill talk on the porch; Kevin talks to Nora on the phone)
- "Tom's Lullaby" by Max Richter (Laurie tries to convince Kevin to get help)
- "Solitude" by Duke Ellington & His Famous Orchestra, Kay Davis, Joya Sherrill, Marie Ellington & Al Hibbler (from the Metropolitan Opera House show) (end credits)
- Virgil implies that Kevin’s cinderblock suicide attempt occurred the same day he met Virgil at the visitors’ center, but it was actually the following day, as seen in “A Matter of Geography.”
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