The following contains spoilers for Kevin Can F**k Himself Episode 3, “We’re Selling Washing Machines”
If Episode 3 of Kevin Can F**k Himself felt slower to you, you’re not alone. It’s a slower, richer exploration of characters that at times feels like a vanilla crème brûlée, but other times feels like a McFlurry with forgotten toppings (will I stop comparing this show with high/low food pairings? Probably not). It’s not always successful in its journey down memory lane, but when it is successful, it does hit at something inherently interesting for its characters—namely Patty (Mary Hollis Inboden) in this episode.
The bulk of the episode is spent giving us context on how Patty came to sell generic oxycodone at her salon, while also giving us some much needed Sam (Raymond Lee) and Allison (Annie Murphy) backstory. Meanwhile, over in Kevin Land, Kevin (Eric Petersen) and best friend Neil (Alex Bonifer) get into a fight over who has the best chili.
“I’m Right, That’s Way Better!”
Allison and Patty begin some sort of friendship, which goes through the process of Allison continuing to reach out, and Patty having a certain level of reluctance at first, which eventually turns into her caving and giving Allison some details about her drug hustle. Patty is not in it for the profit, she’s in it for the pain she sees in the women in her community, and the lack of medical support that’s available to them.
When Patty eventually asks Allison why she needs the oxy, Allison explains that she’s in pain, but Patty doesn’t believe her. She calls Allison a bad liar, but tells her to come back on Monday because she’s out.
After that, a series of events happens which comes back to haunt Allison: Marcus (Justin Grace) harasses her when she walks by the auto-body shop, and she calls in a tip that he’s dealing drugs to kids. He eventually gives up the town pharmacist Terrance (Robert Najarian) as his supplier, which cuts off Patty’s supply too.
It’s a twist that puts Allison’s let’s-kill-Kevin-plan back to square one, which is somewhat needed for the stakes and pacing—and to also ask the question “just how far will she go?”—but it also puts a lot of pressure on the town and its characters as a setting.
This is kind of my main beef with this episode, which is that in its backstory laden (and again necessary) journey, it fails to flesh out the town and its townies. Its characters don’t (yet) have the necessary nuances that are present to carry a drama like Mare of Easttown, or their mandatory quirks that make a comedy like Schitt’s Creek sparkle.
“Even You Don’t Believe What You’re Saying”
I wonder if this would’ve been a better episode to double down on Allison’s mad plan to kill Kevin—to have her find easy success in getting generic oxy—only to have a character like Patty realize her plan at the end and to stop her. Or to have Kevin saved by naloxone, which is now widely available at pharmacies in Massachusetts.
I don’t know if that’s necessarily the solution to an episode like this (which felt a bit like a filler episode). Again, it was necessary episode for the sake of sketching out Patty a little bit more, but it did also feel like a lot of the stakes and consequences in this episode were created by chance, and not necessarily deeper character motives or actions. I can see the point that the deck is stacked against Allison and she feels trapped on all sides, but I can also think of ways that this episode could’ve used her time in more intriguing ways, or could have brought back the brilliance of a cut to her fantasy life.
In Episode 1, we witnessed the first crossover of her fantasy life into her actual setting (where she dreams of stabbing Kevin in the neck), and in Episode 2 we were treated to an ocean moment with a server who asks her how she killed her husband. There’s something delightful in how casually Allison imagines this conversation going with the server, about the fact that she murdered her husband. I know Episode 3 is already doing a lot in terms of building out the backstory, but how does her fantasy life change when the plan to get oxy (and stage an overdose) goes awry? And more importantly, when her and Patty become closer, does she get added to her morning-scone-by-the-ocean fantasy? (And does that patio even allow smoking?!)
“I’m So Glad You’re Eating Healthy With Me”
Perhaps the most interesting twist besides the whole drug supply chain falling apart is that Patty gets engaged in the episode to a man we didn’t see or hear about for the first two episodes. This feels about right, though, given that we spent so much time over in Kevin Land.
Anyway, she gets engaged to Curt (Sean Clements) who she’s been dating for around four years, and in the heat of the pharmacist getting arrested, he takes it upon himself to propose in one of those life-is-too-short-moments.
Curt is radically unaware of Patty’s side business, and also much of her actual life. He lives in a fantasy world where a bagged salad fills her up when she comes over and that she hasn’t just had to speed-eat in the car on the way there. It’s a healthier relationship compared to Kevin and Allison in that Patty eventually breaks down and asks him for some real food, but she is still very much playing a role for him, and Curt himself kind of is projecting an idealized version of Patty on to her.
“Is That a Bean?”
In Allison’s best moment, we see her show-up to Sam’s AA meeting where he is collecting his chip for being eight years sober. It’s a sweet moment that is eventually ruined by Jenn, Sam’s wife, who he was actually still dating when he and Allison would hook up in the back of the Mexican restaurant they worked at.
She clarifies to Patty that he is a kind-of-ex due to the nature of their relationship–and I do love that this is the foundation of Sam and Allison’s relationship as it adds to the fantasy lens that Allison so often projects onto her life and choices. Again, this would’ve been a great spot to see what Allison’s brain was up to in fantasy land, but overused this could also get to be a bit tiring, so I get the choice. (But I still want fantasy moments back!)
“It Smells Like Death…”
Elsewhere, in a rather Kevin Land light episode, Kevin and Neil fight over who has the best chili, and then Allison and Patty make them think teaming up at the end to conclude their fight is the boys’ idea. There are a couple of interesting things introduced into Kevin Land from Allison and Patty which is that they start to throw a couple curve balls to cause conflict and disrupt the harmony of the sitcom (which feels somewhat similar to the universe of The Good Place starting to implode in Season 1.)
Ultimately we leave on a note where Allison and Patty are left to clean up the mess (of the burnt pig) that the men left outside. It’s a frustrating ending for the characters, as well as the audience who just watched Allison’s plan get torn apart.
In the end, she pleads with Patty to find another option, lying to say that she owes someone in town oxy to pay back some she stole, and copying from Sam’s rock bottom story along the way. She may not be able to come up with convincing lies of her own, but she’s able to lay out true stories even if they aren’t necessarily hers. Patty—of course not one to turn her back on a woman in need—caves and says they need to go to Vermont for one last run. (And that Allison will need to come with her.) And just like that, we’re about to hit the road with these two. Let’s hope this trip won’t end up like Thelma & Louise.