The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)




Air dateMay 28, 2017

Running time61 mins

Production code

Written byNick Cuse & Damon Lindelof

Directed byCraig Zobel

Images (0)

"The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)" is the seventh episode of Season 3, and overall the 27th produced hour of The Leftovers. It originally aired on May 28, 2017.


On a mission of mercy, Kevin assumes an alternate identity.

Plot Edit

Analysis Edit

Recurring Themes Edit

  • Animals: Grace’s dog Caleb is seen.
  • Memories: Upon hearing David Burton’s voice, Kevin has flashes of Burton from “I Live Here Now” and “International Assassin.” As Kevin is climbing out the window of the limo/returning to reality the first time, he has quick flashes of him with the plastic bag over his head (from “The Book of Kevin”); the Guilty Remnant’s Heroes’ Day protest (from the Pilot); the stag bursting through the door (from “The Garveys at Their Best”); Kevin shooting at dogs (from the Pilot); Kevin kissing the Woman then finding her departed (from “The Garveys at Their Best”); removing the plastic bag from Patti’s head (from “Cairo”); having sex with Nora for the first time (from “Solace for Tired Feet”); finding all his white shirts in the woods, and holding Patti’s corpse (from “Cairo”); rescuing Jill from the burning G.R. building (from “The Prodigal Son Returns”); waking up at the bottom of the dried-up spring (from “A Matter of Geography”); wrestling with John in Isaac’s motel room (from “Orange Sticker”); being slapped by Patti in the woods, and lying dead on Virgil’s floor (from “A Most Powerful Adversary”); falling into the well and drowning Patti (from “International Assassin”); being shot by John, screaming upon finding himself back in the hotel, and returning to find Miracle in chaos (from “I Live Here Now”); trying to stop the protest at the group baptism, being fired on by Dean, Dean being shot, and Kevin attacking Matt in the church (all from “The Book of Kevin”); and Kevin fighting with the man in the Melbourne alley, having sex with Nora in the airport bathroom, and burning Matt’s book (from “G’Day Melbourne”). Kevin has a flash of Nora in the bathtub (from this episode’s opening flashback) when Michael asks him why he is doing this. He again has a flash of drowning Patti from “International Assassin” when Patti says Kevin summoned her out of retirement. When he reads the “romance novel,” Kevin has flashes of waking up the day of the Departure (from “The Garveys at Their Best”), of suffocating himself (from “The Book of Kevin”), of watching Nora walk away from the Pillar (from “Don’t Be Ridiculous”), of kissing Nora in the hotel room (from “G’Day Melbourne”), and of walking out on Nora (from “G’Day Melbourne”). After Kevin Harvey says they fucked up with Nora, Kevin has a flash of Nora smiling from the final scene of “I Live Here Now.”

Cultural References Edit

  • Kevin says his favorite movie is Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 film The Godfather, Part II. He previously referenced the first Godfather film in “International Assassin” (perhaps alluding to the fact that this episode is a sequel).
  • The Fisher Protocol refers to a real-life proposal by the late academic and attorney Roger Fisher, in a 1981 edition of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.[1] Fisher’s point was that requiring the President to commit murder with his own hands would force the President to acknowledge and consider the reality of taking innocent life, rather than allowing the act of releasing nuclear weapons to remain an abstract matter of reciting codes and giving commands.
  • David Burton misquotes Niccolò Machiavelli from The Prince. The actual quote is the opposite of what Burton claims: “Hence it is that all armed prophets have conquered, and the unarmed ones have been destroyed.”[2] This may reflect a “looking-glass”-type reverse/opposite quality to the “hotel world,” or it may indicate that Burton is deliberately misleading Kevin. If one believes that the entire “hotel world” is simply Kevin’s subconscious, it is also possible that Kevin simply misremembered the quote.
  • Upon seeing the two Kevins, Patti sings the theme song from the 1963-1966 ABC sitcom The Patty Duke Show, which featured Duke playing “identical cousins.” As an extra layer of referentiality, the end credits version of “The End of the World” is performed by Patty Duke.
  • Patti references Article II Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which defines the powers of the President.
  • Patti claims that Kevin hid his book behind the portrait of Millard Fillmore, the thirteenth President of the U.S., who served from 1850 to 1853.

Trivia Edit

  • This episode features the final appearances of series regulars Patti, Meg, John, Michael, Kevin Sr., and Dean.
  • The flashback in the bathtub was Justin Theroux's final scene shot for The Leftovers.[3]
  • The Russian assassin says, “You killed my father, you killed my mother, you killed my brother and now I'm going to kill you, Kevin Harvey.”[4]
  • After entering his beach hut with Dean, Kevin puts on the sweatpants he was wearing in the Pilot in his first appearance in the series, when he first met Dean. The sweatpants also infamously became tabloid fodder due to paparazzi photos focusing on Justin Theroux’s bulge.[5] The penis scanner in this episode likewise references the notoriety of Theroux's endowment, as a sequel to “International Assassin”’s more subtle “congratulations” joke.[6] Theroux has said that Damon Lindelof delighted in throwing these references in as he knew the attention made Theroux uncomfortable.[7][8]
  • The piece of shattered mirror Kevin picks up is reminiscent of the shard of glass Patti used to kill herself in "Cairo."
  • Kevin's presidential address is shot between the Royal Exhibition Building and the Melbourne Museum.[9]
  • Kevin’s presidential address begins, “G’day Melbourne,” referencing the titular talk show from the episode of the same name.
  • Patti using Ukrainian separatists as the scapegoat to bring about the end of the world may reference the fact that in "International Assassin," she says her Jeopardy! rival Stuart incorrectly guessed "What is the Ukraine?"
  • Evie, in the “other place,” believing that her whole family died in a drone strike while she survived, as opposed to the opposite outcome in reality, foreshadows a key plot point of the series finale.
  • The staircase inside the bunker was shot at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Design Hub, although the actual bunker room was a set.[9]
  • The portrait of President Kevin hanging in the situation room shows him standing in front of a picture of G.R. members holding letters spelling "STOP WASTING YOUR BREATH," calling back to the Pilot.
  • Patti slapping Kevin and then yelling at him when he refuses to go to DEFCON 1 is reminiscent of her doing the same in the woods, in "A Most Powerful Adversary."
  • Meg tells Kevin Harvey that President Kevin is "merciless." The boat in Kevin's Untitled Romance Novel is the 'Merciful.'
  • The communications officer’s name tag says his name is S. Lyons. This may allude to the French sailor who launched the nuclear missile in “It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World,” whose name tag read “P. Lyon.”
  • Like Kevin Sr.’s appearance in “International Assassin” (where Kevin Sr. talks about specific circumstances Kevin Jr. would have no way of knowing about, such as Kevin Sr. taking a drug called God's Tongue), Christopher Sunday’s appearance seems to support the “hotel world” being real rather than a psychological construct, as it is unclear how Kevin would know what Chris looks like. Interestingly, both of these interactions occur through screens, rather than in person. Damon Lindelof has stated his belief that Kevin Sr. was communicating with Kevin Jr. through the dreamtime.[10] It is certainly feasible that Christopher Sunday likewise continued to exist in the dreamtime after his death, which would be in accord with aboriginal tradition. Notably, he seems to be the only person besides Kevin and Patti who is aware of the "real" world.
  • The alarm going off when the secret service bursts into the comm room sounds the same as the fire alarm in the hotel in “International Assassin.”
  • Kevin Harvey being walked into the room by secret service in a black hood calls back to the man in a Mapleton police uniform being escorted out of Patti’s suite with an execution hood over his head in “International Assassin.”
  • There seem to be two different versions of the romance novel, possibly reflecting the divide in Kevin’s emotions. In the excerpt Dean reads, the protagonist plans to use the ‘Merciful’ to find his love, whereas in the ending Kevin reads, the protagonist obtains the ‘Merciful’ to escape and be alone.
  • Kevin killing his twin to save the better part of himself calls back to the question Dr. Eden asked Nora in “G’Day Melbourne” about killing one twin so the other can cure cancer.[1]
  • Kevin Sr. and Jr. sitting on the roof after the apocalypse fails to materialize calls back to the Millerites in the opening sequence of the season.
  • Damon Lindelof said that Grace Playford went to jail after the events of the show, but probably got "six months of jail time and ten years of community service because the judge in that jurisdiction hated Yarborough because he was an infamous asshole." Lindelof believes that Kevin Sr. either fled Australia before he could be arrested for assaulting Officer Gerard, or was merely deported.[10]

Music Edit

  • "The Leftovers (Main Title Theme)" by Max Richter (main title)
  • Nabucco: Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves ("Va, Pensiero, Sull'ali Dorate)" composed by Giuseppe Verdi, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, David Parry, the London Philharmonic Choir & the London Chorus (this recording was previously used throughout "International Assassin" as the theme for the "hotel world"; it is reprised in this episode, as a theme for transitions: when Kevin first returns to the "other place," bursting out of the ocean; when John and Michael pull him out of the lake in the downpour; and when President Kevin looks into Patti's glasses and becomes Assassin Kevin)
  • "Homeward Bound" performed by Bill Camp (David Burton sings a snippet of the Simon & Garfunkel song, calling back to Kevin singing the song in "I Live Here Now")
  • Nabucco: Overture, composed by Giuseppe Verdi, performed by Orchester Der Deutschen Oper Berlin & Giuseppe Sinopoli (used as a theme for President Kevin: plays when he is first seen, and when he enters the situation room)
  • Nabucco (Introduzione) "Va, la Palma del Martirio" composed by Giuseppe Verdi, performed by Orchester Der Deutschen Oper Berlin & Giuseppe Sinopoli (President Kevin speaks on the phone while walking to his limo)
  • "Love Will Keep Us Together" performed by Jasmin Savoy Brown (Evie sings the Captain & Tenille song at Kevin's G.R. rally; the original version was heard on the show in "Two Boats and a Helicopter" after Matt beats up Skinny and takes his money back in the casino parking lot)
  • Sanctus, D. 872, composed by Franz Schubert, performed by the Choir of Trinity College & Cambridge (Kevin Sr. drowns Kevin in the tub after telling him he wishes he could do it instead) (has appeared previously as a recurring theme relating to faith in "Orange Sticker," "No Room at the Inn," "I Live Here Now," "The Book of Kevin," "Crazy Whitefella Thinking," and "G'Day Melbourne")
  • Nabucco (Introduzione) (from Act IV, Scene 1) composed by Giuseppe Verdi, performed by Orchester Der Deutschen Oper Berlin & Giuseppe Sinopoli (Kevin heads to the comm room)
  • "Cousins" (Theme from The Patty Duke Show) performed by Ann Down (Patti sings a version of the song when she unveils Kevin's double)
  • "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys (President Kevin cuts Kevin Harvey)
  • "Departure (Lullaby)" by Max Richter (Kevin and Patti watch the end of the world)
  • "The End of the World" by Patty Duke (end credits)

Book to Show Edit

  • Patti saying there is no God seems to contradict the Guilty Remnant philosophy from the book, which is heavily focused on reminding people that God is watching, and which borrows heavily from elements of Judeo-Christianity. Indeed, a memorial at the Mapleton G.R. complex to a member killed by police says, "We love you, Phil--See you in heaven."

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1
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  10. 10.0 10.1
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