The Book of Kevin




Air dateApril 16, 2017

Running time61 mins

Production code

Written byDamon Lindelof & Patrick Somerville

Directed byMimi Leder

Images (0)

"The Book of Kevin" is the first episode of Season 3, and overall the 21st produced hour of The Leftovers. It originally aired on April 16, 2017.


Three years after Miracle, Texas was overrun by the Guilty Remnant, Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) has returned to his role as chief of police. Although he seems to have moved past the incredible events surrounding his “resurrection,” the Seventh Anniversary of The Sudden Departure is just two weeks away and many believe another apocalyptic event may come with it.

Analysis Edit

Recurring Themes Edit

  • Animals: The Millerite family gives their goat to a neighbor, along with other possessions. The Millerite pastor receives notes via carrier pigeon, presumably to inform his date predictions. Kevin rides a white horse named Andy. Dean believes that dogs are taking the form of people and reaching high political office; after Dean is killed, a dog steals his peanut butter sandwich. Kevin sees a white bird when he contemplates burning Matt’s book. In the flashforward, Nora collects messages from white pigeons, then gives the pigeons to a church.
  • Memories: While talking to Dean, Kevin has a flash of Dean shooting a dog in the Pilot, and of Kevin pushing young Patti into the well in “International Assassin.” When Jill asks about Nora, Kevin has a flash of Nora holding Lily from “The Prodigal Son Returns.” While being baptized, Kevin has a flash of emerging from the tub in “International Assassin.” While talking to Tom, Kevin flashes back to shooting Patti in “International Assassin.”
  • The Bible: The opening song "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" by Good News Circle begins with a reading from Matthew 24:35-42 (notably, this passage emphasizes the fact that man cannot predict the date of the “coming of the Son of Man,” and also analogizes this event to the flood narrative in Genesis, which becomes a recurring theme in season 3); the passage was previously cited on a sign in “Guest.” The Millerite preacher has charts depicting the opening of the seven seals from the Book of Revelation. The sign outside Sacred Mission Church, “When those days expire, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed!” roughly quotes from Daniel 8:14 (the biblical passage refers to a specific period of 2300 days, which is approximately 6.3 years, and played a key role in Millerite eschatological predictions of the Rapture date). Matt’s sermon colloquially summarizes Daniel Chapter 4. Continuing to emphasize the biblical significance of seven years, Matt then quotes Deuteronomy 15:1, Genesis 41:54, and Ezekiel 39:9. Matt and Mary named their son Noah, referencing the protagonist of the Genesis flood narrative. Michael’s baptism of Kevin loosely quotes from Romans 6:5. Matt paraphrases Luke 14:26 when he says, “If you come to me, but will not leave your family, you cannot be my follower.”

Cultural References Edit

  • Meg references famed Las Vegas magicians Siegfried & Roy, and specifically the 2003 tiger attack on Roy during a show that ended their career.
  • John proves his powers are “real” by referencing singer Pat Benatar with no context, based on something on Jed Miller’s Facebook page. 
  • Jill wears a Nirvana t-shirt.
  • The sign outside Sacred Mission at the end of the episode appears to say, “Destruction is coming like a mighty wirlwind” (sic), quoting from the writings of nineteenth-century Seventh Day Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White.[1]
  • In the flashforward, “Sarah” delivers pigeons to St. Mary MacKillop’s Anglican Church. Mary MacKilliop was an Australian Catholic nun in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, and is the only saint from Australia.[2] An Anglican church would not be named after her, as she was canonized as a saint by the Catholic church long after the Anglicans split from the Catholics. The discrepancy is likely due to a hasty makeover of the real-world location, St. Paul's Anglican Church.

Trivia Edit

  • This episode is the last onscreen appearance of Jill (her voice is subsequently featured in “Certified”).
  • This is only the fourth episode ever, and the first since season one, to actually feature all the credited main cast members (the previous three episodes to do so were Pilot, “Penguin One, Us Zero,” and “Solace for Tired Feet”).
  • This is the first and only episode after the Pilot to feature no main title sequence.
  • Dean returns after a twelve-episode absence, the longest gap between appearances for any character on the show.
  • The opening text warning which appears before this and other episodes this season is a common warning on Australian programs, as a result of Aboriginal avoidance speech, a cultural practice which forbids Aboriginal peoples from referencing the names of dead persons or disseminating photos or film of the deceased for a time after their death, as a mark of respect to the dead and to spare the feelings of grieving family members. Even if no known deceased persons are featured in the program, the warning is included as a precautionary measure, in case any of the actors subsequently passes away.
  • The family in the opening sequence are Millerites in Adelaide, Australia.[3] Although the Millerite movement was started in New York by Baptist preacher William Miller and was largely a US phenomenon, it also developed an international following, particularly in Australia. 
  • Damon Lindelof has cited the opening of the 2009 Coen Brothers film A Serious Man as inspiring the opening sequences of both season two and season three, in that all three begin with a period scene set in the distant past that thematically ties into what follows.[3] Lindelof also said that a major influence on the opening sequence of this episode and the third season overall was the 1956 social psychology book When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Study of a Modern Group That Predicted the Destruction of the World, by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter. The book recounts Festinger and his colleagues infiltrating a cult led by a Chicago woman who claimed that aliens had told her the date of the end of the world. The book is an early study on the concept of cognitive dissonance, and Lindelof made all the writers read it early in the preparations for writing season three. Tom Perrotta had discussed the Millerites in the season two writers’ room, after reading about them in Whitney Cross’s 1950 book The Burned-Over District: The Social and Intellectual History of Enthusiastic Religion in Western New York, 1800-1850.[4]
  • As a clue that the Millerite scenes take place in Australia, the tree by the family’s house becomes increasingly bare with each iteration of the rooftop ceremony, reflecting the Australian seasonal progression from January (summer) to August (winter).
  • The various predicted dates seen in the episode appear to be inventions of the show (the pastor’s board shows 1/21/1844, then 4/16/1844, and finally 8/07/1944; the second date, 4/16, is perhaps coincidentally the day this episode aired in 2017). William Miller himself refused to name a specific date, only saying that the Second Coming of Jesus would occur between 3/21/1843 and 3/21/1944, although various sects of Millerites did make more specific calculations. After Miller’s initial predicted period passed, the majority of Millerites recalculated the projected date as 4/18/1844. When that second anticipated date also passed, a New Hampshire Millerite preacher named Samuel S. Snow convinced the movement that the actual date was 10/22/1844.[5]
  • In the trashed church after the third failed Rapture prediction, the preacher’s chalkboard has been defaced to read, “Great disappointment,” “bollocks,” and “foold.” “The Great Disappointment” was the common name given to Millerites’ frustration when the 10/22/1844 date proved wrong. Subsequently, the movement survived but fractured, with one faction surviving to present day as the Seventh Day Adventist Church.[5] 
  • This is the second season premiere in a row where an opening sequence taking place in the distant past transitions to Evie in the present.
  • The Gary Busey balloon was originally to have been Anthony Bourdain. Although Bourdain had given permission for his photo to be used in the Pilot, he declined to grant permission for a Bourdain balloon to appear in the show, and the writers settled on Busey, who consented.[6]
  • When Tom is fighting with the Gary Busey guys, a tent can be seen behind them with a sign reading, “Miracle Tent. Holy Crusade.”
  • When Michael is first seen in the episode, he is reading an article on the Mapleton Gazette website entitled, “Mapleton Rebuilds after Heroes Day Violence,” with photos seemingly depicting events from the riot in the Pilot.
  • Michael has boxes behind him in the church office referencing months and states (August, Colorado; May, Alabama, Mississippi; August, Kansas; Jan, Alaska; August, Alaska, Hawaii; Oct, California; April, Arizona). It is unclear what these refer to.
  • One of the whiteboards behind Michael in the church office has a note that says, “Finish sermon about GR.”
  • It appears that Miracle is no longer a state park, as the Jarden police have taken over the functions formerly performed by the park rangers, who are nowhere to be seen (as opposed to last season, where no police were seen). The police station appears to be a repurposed grocery store, as a sign reading “Produce” is visible behind Kevin as he speaks to the force.
  • There is a "missing person" poster in the police station for a Faith K. Johnson. When Laurie looks at Jed Miller’s Facebook page, Jed also appears to be friends with a Faith Johnson. Faith Johnson is an art department assistant on the show.
  • Before knowing that the visitor is Dean, Kevin asks Officer Valdivia if the visitor is a tinfoil hat or a Kenneth. “Tinfoil hat” is common slang for a crazy or paranoid person prone to believing in deluded conspiracy theories (as Dean turns out to be); the term derives from the headwear many such people believe will shield their thoughts from being read by aliens or the government. It is not clear what the term “Kenneth” refers to in this context.
  • While John has repurposed Isaac’s old business, John’s “powers” work differently from Isaac’s. Isaac used handprints only to see the future, and used a different approach for seeing the past (as he explains to Meg in “Ten Thirteen”), whereas John claims to tune into the past by looking at Jed’s handprint. He has also incorporated Wayne’s hugging shtick, which was presumably Laurie’s suggestion.
  • Laurie’s computer setup is located in what was formerly Evie’s room.
  • Under US federal law, it is a crime to destroy currency, although the constitutionality of this statute has been questioned, and it is unclear if anyone has ever been prosecuted for destroying money.[7] (Regardless of legality, it is not clear why John and Laurie don’t use the money charitably—e.g., to help survivors of cults, or those who lost someone in the Departure—rather than wastefully shredding it. John arguably explains this in "Certified").
  • John holding up a Coca-Cola while saying that his employment in a liquor store did not “turn out to be so good” all but confirms that he is a recovering alcoholic, which was previously subtly implied in “Axis Mundi,” “Orange Sticker” and “I Live Here Now.”
  • Michael can be seen in the background standing on the porch watching as Jill leaves. It is never stated if Jill and Michael are still dating, although the fact they are now step-siblings may have made the dynamic too awkward.
  • Justin Theroux actually performed the plastic bag stunt, causing director Mimi Leder and the crew to worry whether he was acting or actually suffocating.[8]
  • The chemical barrel the protesters dumped in the water is labeled Tetrachloroethylene, which is commonly used in dry cleaning, perhaps referencing Kevin’s argument with the laundromat in “Solace for Tired Feet.”
  • Kevin leaping into the spring is reminiscent of him doing the same the night of Evie’s disappearance, as seen in flashback in “I Live Here Now.” Note that he is wearing his police radio when he jumps in, and is clearly not afraid of being electrocuted on top of being poisoned.
  • Kevin saying Tom has to talk to someone recalls Kevin being forced to talk to a psychiatrist in “Penguin One, Us Zero.” Kevin saying that killing, even if you are just doing your job, fucks you up is reminiscent of Wayne telling Tom in “Penguin One, Us Zero” that killing, even for great purpose, will be like poison inside him.
  • A handwritten sign outside the church appears to say “Sacred Mission Church Revival,” possibly implying that the Sacred Mission has transitioned from being a Baptist church to becoming a revival church, which among other beliefs, emphasizes the Rapture. However, the flyer seen earlier in the episode still calls it Sacred Mission Baptist Church.

Book to Show Edit

  • The opening song starts with a quote from Matthew 24. In the novel, Matt quotes this passage (specifically Matthew 24:40) when insisting to Nora that October 14 was the Rapture.
  • Meg willingly dying for the G.R.’s cause comes from the book, although it occurs under very different circumstances. In the book, Patti designates Meg to die as the next sacrifice in the series of staged G.R. murders to remind the public of the Departure, similar to Gladys’s murder on the show. In the book, when Laurie is incapable of carrying out her task of shooting Meg, Meg takes the gun and shoots herself.
  • In the book, a retired Kevin (before be becomes mayor of Mapleton) grows a beard then shaves it because it has too much gray in it: "That was what passed for a big event in the life of a retired man."
  • The fixation Matt and many other characters this season have with the seven-year anniversary of the Departure has its roots in the Christian eschatological belief that the Rapture will be followed by a seven-year Tribulation period, after which Armageddon will occur. In the book, the Guilty Remnant holds this belief.
  • Kevin references Matt’s love of handing out flyers, calling back to his origins in the Pilot and the book, distributing his newsletter.
  • In the book, Kevin and Laurie met in college. The show's timeline differs, inventing a new version of their meeting to reflect Tom not being Kevin's son on the show, unlike the book.
  • For the first time on the show, Nora is shown riding a bicycle. In the book, Nora’s bicycle riding is a major part of her character: she regularly rides for three hours a day, and considers it a central part of her daily routine. 
  • In the book, Matt’s wife and children left him because of his newsletter. Similarly, on the show, Mary takes Noah and leaves Matt due to his fanaticism.  

Music Edit

  • "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" by Good News Circle (opening song over montage of Millerites)
  • "Departure (Lullaby)" by Max Richter (the Millerite woman comes down from the roof for the third time)
  • "Sign of the Judgment" by the McIntosh Country Shouters (recurring motif: Kevin rides horse into town; Kevin jumps into the spring; Kevin contemplates burning Matt's book)
  • "I Had a Talk" by the Friendly Seven (ft. Philip Down) (playing in John's house during his session with Jed Miller)
  • "What Does It Take" by Tony Joe White (playing as Tom arrives home for his "surprise" party)
  • "Warning Signs" by Dick Flood (playing at Tom's party as the guys discuss where they were when they were twenty-five)
  • "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" by Simon & Garfunkel (Kevin watches Nora ride off before suffocating himself)
  • Sanctus, D. 872, composed by Franz Schubert, performed by the Choir of Trinity College & Cambridge (Michael baptizes Kevin; Matt, John and Michael recall Kevin's "resurrections") (this piece was previously used in "Orange Sticker," "No Room at the Inn," and "I Live Here Now" as a recurring motif for Matt's faith that Mary would wake up; its new purpose in season 3 seems to symbolize the transfer of Matt's faith to Kevin)
  • "And Know the Place for the First Time" by Max Richter (Nora/Sarah flash forward, into the end credits) (the piece's title is taken from a line in T. S. Eliot's 1942 poem "Little Gidding")


References Edit

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