"International Assassin" is the eighth episode of Season 2, and overall the eighteenth produced hour of The Leftovers. It originally aired on November 22, 2015.

Analysis Edit

Recurring Themes Edit

  • Animals: The hotel employees try to catch a bird in the hotel lobby. Although Virgil at first hopes they don’t catch it, after drinking the water, he kills the bird with a binder. After Kevin shoves young Patti into the well, he hears the squeal of a hawk, just like the cavewoman heard repeatedly in “Axis Mundi.”

Cultural References Edit

  • Damon Lindelof has said that this episode was inspired in part by Tony Soprano’s coma dream in the early sixth season Sopranos episodes “Join the Club” and “Mayham”: “When you mention these other ideas, like ‘The Sopranos,’ which obviously we were paying homage to in terms of the Kevin Finnerty episodes, where Tony was in the space between life and death and he didn’t remember who he was, but there was this kind of mundane feeling to the place he was.”[1]
  • The quote on Kevin’s closet doors comes from Greek philosopher Epictetus’s teachings.
  • When discussing the gun’s hiding place, Kevin and Virgil acknowledge the plot similarity to Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel The Godfather and Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 film adaptation.
  • Wayne and Kevin reference the Trix cereal advertising tagline, “Trix are for kids.”
  • Patti references John Wilkes Booth’s 1865 assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. There does not appear to be any historical support for Patti’s assertion that Booth hated slavery, as he was a vocal supporter of the practice.
  • Neil references former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s use of body doubles as decoys.
  • Patti references being on the syndicated game show Jeopardy! Damon Lindelof said the writers made this choice in part due to the fact that Jeopardy! contestants phrase their answers in the form of a question, just as The Leftovers is more interested in questions than answers.[2] The Final Jeopardy answer she references comes from the 10/14/2013 show, which would be the two-year anniversary of the Departure, and a year before the events of the Pilot (this is seemingly inconsistent with Neil having already kicked Patti out of their house before the Departure in "The Garveys at Their Best"). There was no contestant named Stuart on that day; contestant Chris correctly guessed “What is Kazakhstan?” while contestant Loren guessed the Ukraine as Patti says Stuart did (the previous day’s champion, Greg, incorrectly spelled the country as “Kazkhistan”).[3] Although there was no Stuart on 10/14/2013, there was a Stuart Anderson who began as a contestant the following day, 10/15/2013, and was reigning champion for four days as Patti says.[4][5] Coincidentally, Kazakhstan was also the question for the Final Jeopardy round on the Wednesday before “International Assassin” aired, 11/18/2015, and once again one contestant incorrectly guessed “Ukraine.”[6]

Trivia Edit

  • This episode had its origins in conversations the writers had about the idea of the Prophet’s Dilemma (as first mentioned in “Guest”) and how it might apply to Kevin. Consulting producer / religious scholar Reza Aslan told the other writers that Kevin is not a prophet, but a shaman, meaning that he receives information in dreams but is given no guidance in interpreting it. Aslan also said that a shaman has to die and go to the other side to be reborn with his powers, so the writers decided early in the season to eventually have Kevin die to do battle with Patti, and have the show’s “version of Dante’s Inferno.” They also knew that the episode had to climax with Kevin killing Patti but also finally understanding her, paying off her line in “Cairo” when she kills herself, “You understand.” Beyond that, they did not develop what the “other place” would look like any further until it was time to actually write this episode. After trying many different approaches, one of the writers said that Kevin had to “assassinate” Patti, and that proved to be the key to developing the world.[7][8]
  • When asked to define whether the hotel is purely Kevin’s psychotic break (“Boring!”) or a mythical space (“Too weird”), Damon Lindelof has said that “The answer lies somewhere between boring and too weird” (but has also acknowledged that co-creator Tom Perrotta and other writers might feel differently).[9] However, Lindelof has also said that the writers made clear determinations on elements such as whether or not Kevin’s visions of Patti were real or a psychotic break, and whether Isaac was the “real deal,” while simultaneously ensuring that there were always explanations to support a non-“magical” interpretation of every event besides the Departure. Lindelof believes that since 2% of the world’s population disappeared, the show’s events should be 2% magical, but he also embraces the viewpoint of audience members who do not want anything besides the Departure to be supernatural.[10]
  • The hotel name is only seen as “Hotel & Resort” with a logo depicting a triangle with a curved line intersecting it about two thirds of the way up (as seen on stationery and “do not disturb” signs).
  • The real world shooting location for the hotel is the Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol.
  • Kevin’s room number is 407. Although next door to Kevin’s, Neil’s room number is 403.
  • In “Off Ramp,” the news reported that David Burton claimed to have been in a hotel during the time he was believed dead, before his “resurrection.” Viewers subscribing to the idea that the hotel in this episode is Kevin’s psychological construct can assume that Kevin also saw news reports about Burton’s supposed resurrection, leading Kevin to envision a similar afterlife. Meanwhile, Kevin Senior is apparently in Perth; per the news report in “Off Ramp,” Burton’s resurrection occurred in “a cave in Wanneroo outside the city of Perth.” Kevin Senior announced his plans to move to Australia the day after the news report on Burton.
  • The hotel’s fire alarm repeatedly going off corresponds to Kevin Senior trying to communicate with Kevin Junior through the TV, using a fire as a conduit.
  • Supporting the interpretation of the hotel being a supernatural space as opposed to Kevin’s psychological construct, the audience never saw Kevin learn about the birds Erika buries, one of which seems to pop up in the hotel. It is possible that Nora told him about the bird-burying the same night Erika told Nora. It is also possible that Virgil told Kevin the night Kevin sleep-walked to Virgil’s trailer, since Erika’s grandmother who passed on the myth may have been Virgil’s mother. Virgil impliedly referenced the bird-burying in “Lens” when he offered Erika a bird.
  • Virgil asking if Kevin is a guest (and Kevin denying this) calls to mind Nora enjoying the anonymity of being “Guest” in the episode of the same name.
  • Damon Lindelof has pointed to the Latina woman dressed in scrubs as support for the idea that the hotel is a “magical” space accessible to people besides Kevin: “if you listen carefully to what she's saying, that may give an indication of an alternate theory.”[10] In her first appearance, she appears to be meeting with her own concierge/guide in the parking garage, just as Kevin meets with Virgil. The woman protests that she is not a doctor. In her second appearance, during the fire alarm evacuation, the woman is excitedly explaining to a hotel employee that she has a human heart (in the cooler she is carrying), and that if he does not let her in someone will die. Lindelof is presumably implying that this woman is on her own mission, like Kevin. Although in the interview Lindelof says that he does not believe Kevin speaks Spanish, Kevin does speak stilted but serviceable Spanish in “Solace for Tired Feet,” but it is arguably unlikely that he would be able to dream in Spanish as quickly and fluently as the two women speak.
  • Virgil warning Kevin not to hesitate in killing Patti because she will try to deceive him is similar to the warning Dogen gives Sayid for stabbing the Man in Black on Damon Lindelof’s prior series Lost, in the sixth season episode “Sundown”: “As soon as you see him, plunge this deep into his chest. If you allow him to speak, it is already too late.” The focus on wells built by ancient peoples also calls to mind the sixth season of Lost.
  • The laundromat tag on the second suit Kevin finds in his closet calls to mind the storyline with Kevin’s white shirts in “Gladys.”
  • In the fight in the elevator bank, one botched stunt caused Justin Theroux to suffer a broken nose and ten stitches on his lip, shutting down production.[11]
  • Kevin Senior claims he is high on a drug called God’s Tongue, which appears to be an invention of the show.
  • Patti’s security guard congratulating Kevin on being well-endowed references the tabloid focus on Justin Theroux’s sweatpants bulge in paparazzi photos taken during the shooting of the Pilot
  • The guard asking if Kevin put neosporin on his hand calls back to Aimee saying the same thing after Kevin suffered a dog bite in “Solace for Tired Feet.”
  • Patti's line that the polls say the G.R.'s message is confusing is another reference to criticisms of the show's depiction of the G.R. in the first season.
  • Patti says, “Our cave collapsed,” referencing the opening scene of the second season premiere, “Axis Mundi.”
  • On the way to Patti’s suite, Kevin passes a man in an executioner’s hood being escorted out by a G.R. member. The hooded man appears to be wearing the same Mapleton Police uniform that was in Kevin’s closet, whereas the “priest” Kevin later sees in the elevator is wearing a different vestment than the one that had been in Kevin’s closet.
  • Aside from Mary (who is brain-dead and potentially between two worlds) and David Burton (who has previously gone to the other side and come back at least once), Neil is the only real-world character in the hotel who has not been confirmed dead in the real world. Although he claims to have choked on a piece of chicken, he was seemingly alive a few months earlier in “Gladys,” when Patti left a bag of feces on his doorstep.
  • The script says that when young Patti opens the door to her room for Kevin, Patti is “still” wearing the sign that reads, “I need to keep my mouth shut,” implying an earlier scene that was cut from the final edit where she was seen with the sign.[12]
  • Virgil says the well is “a straight shot out the I-55.” Interstate 55 does not go through Texas (it runs from Chicago into Louisiana).
  • When Kevin and Patti go to the well, Kevin drives the same white Mercedes Evie and her friends disappeared from in “Axis Mundi.” Even the license plate number is the same.
  • The well is in the exact spot where the cavewoman died in the opening scene of “Axis Mundi.” Per the pamphlet, it is called the Orphan’s Well (presumably referring to the cavewoman’s baby) and was built by indigenous peoples. Interestingly, the well does not seem to exist on that spot in our reality. This again provides support for a mystical interpretation of this episode’s reality, as Kevin would have no way of knowing about the cavewoman and her baby.
  • According to the brochure, the Orphan’s Well forms a conduit between the world of the living and the spirit world (also known as an “axis mundi,” which is the title of the second season premiere).

Book to Show Edit

  • Kevin summarizes Patti and the G.R.’s message as wanting to destroy families. In the book, the G.R.’s philosophy describes family as one of the “discredited forms” post-Departure.

Music Edit

  • Nabucco: Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves ("Va, Pensiero, Sull'ali Dorate") composed by Guiseppe Verdi, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, David Parry, the London Philharmonic Choir & the London Chorus (classical piece played throughout the episode as a recurring theme)
  • "Dona Nobis Pacem 2" by Max Richter (Kevin and Patti in the well)
  • "I've Been Buked and I've Been Scorned" by Tuskegee Institute Singers (end credits; this calls back to Alvin Ailey's version being used for "Cairo"'s opening Patti/Kevin montage)

References Edit

  10. 10.0 10.1
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