The following contains spoilers for Kevin Can F**k Himself Episode 5, “New Patty”
We begin Episode 5 back in the car right after Allison (Annie Murphy) has told Patty (Mary Hollis Inboden) that she’s going to kill Kevin (Eric Petersen). Patty immediately responds “no you’re not!” and dismisses this as a blip, and says Allison is like wallpaper, which is to say she’s stationary (in both the decorative category sense and the movement sense).
And maybe this is somewhat true as Allison so far has spent the majority of the story dreaming, or letting the circumstances carry her to her next step—instead of using what (limited) agency she has. I was somewhat critical of the level of coincidence that carried the story in Episode 3 instead of character choice, but maybe this was more intentional than I realized. Maybe this helped us get to Allison’s choices in Episode 5—and made them feel that much more worthwhile. (But I stand by the lack of characterization present in some of the townies.)
In this chapter of Kevin Can F**k Himself, Allison starts to react to the things that happen to her, and has more of a chaotic confidence in herself than we’ve previously not seen. Patty’s story feels almost like the A-story here, so much so that she becomes the main plot or absence felt in the sitcom plot line (Kevin Land, as I will continue calling it) once she becomes excommunicated as “one of the boys.”
“It’s So Good For Under-Eye Circles…Not That You Need It!”
Before I dive into Patty’s storyline—in an episode aptly titled “New Patty”—let’s dive into Allison’s world. First, she runs into Sam’s (Raymond Lee) partner Jenn (Meghan Leathers) at her favourite make-up store, as she now needs concealer to cover her bruise from the accidental dust-up with the trucker (whose oxy she stole).
In her first action of agency, she steals a lipstick while the salesclerk isn’t looking. The lipstick turns out to be blue, and Allison throws it into the garbage can outside. Later on in the episode, she kicks a plant off the front porch, and then eventually makes two bigger choices: quitting her job at the liquor store, and having sex with Sam.
This leads her to her final act in the episode, which appears to be crushing up the stolen oxys and attempting to kill Kevin via a spiked burger patty. But Patty did plant a seed of doubt in her head about this final action in a somewhat manipulative way (more on that later).
What I’m interested in here—besides the fact that Allison feels almost like a supporting character to Patty’s through-line in this episode—is how Allison’s physical reactions have grown from accidental to intentional.
In Episodes 1 and 2, her anger was coming out in punching and hitting, often claiming to be accidental and with profuse apologies tacked on at the end. What’s different in this episode is how she doesn’t apologize. She quits her job after a man crashes into her and calls her a bitch, but realization that she’s losing steady income only comes to her after she’s had sex with Sam. The quitting and the sex are intrisically linked in that Allison has taken ownership over her body, and therefore a greater part of herself. What’s dangerous for her in this new discovery is she doesn’t really think through the potential consequences until afterwards—which when you’re planning to kill your husband maybe isn’t great?
“It’s What Normal People Do”
Elsewhere, after getting home from their Vermont adventure, Patty wakes up to Kurt (Sean Clements) in her kitchen with a special meal of mimosas and deluxe breakfasts. It’s clear this is not a normal Tuesday, and that the breakfast comes with the expectation that Patty has done some soul-searching about Kurt’s proposal.
Ultimately she tells him that she likes how things are, and he berrates her for not wanting what “normal people” want. There is a bit of truth to Kurt’s plea and tone in that Patty has kind of strung him along, but ultimately why does Kurt feel the need to label something that does seem to be working? And why does he propose with so little consultation?
It’s a tough morning for Patty who goes from being calmly insulted in her own kitchen to comedically interrogated over in Kevin Land. Once Allison enters Kevin Land, the two are grilled about a burger wrapper which Kevin found in his car.
In this moment, Kevin is not so much interested in the general-why regarding their whereabouts but rather the Kevin-specific-why. Why did they not bring him back a burger? And with Kevin playing Allison off as a simple, “narrow-minded,” salad girl, he puts Patty out to pasture for not thinking about him.
Later on in the episode we meet Patrick “Patty” (Jon Glaser) who the boys take in as Patty’s replacement. He’s confident, cunning, calculated, and a little bit of a lone wolf. He’s the male Patty—and he’s rewarded for that.
When he speaks up and asserts himself, the men are in awe of him. But when Patty does that, her voice is droned out, unless it’s in support of Kevin or aids the take down of Allison’s character. (There is a genius moment in Kevin Land where Patty takes two digs at Allison and Allison deflects them to which Patty realizes this behaviour is something of a reflex she has developed.)
The addition of Patrick in this episode—and into Kevin Land specifically—poses interesting questions for the remaining three episodes. Besides his character traits that are similar to Patty’s, he ends the episode by going back to prison. This is played off as a joke, of course, but there is a very real incarceration cloud hanging over Patty in this episode. She comes face-to-face with Nick (Robin Lord Taylor) who we briefly saw in Episode 1.
To her horror, the women in pain she was “helping” were selling to others, making Patty one of the top drug suppliers in town. There’s a bit of a darker metaphor there that has some similarities to complicit white women, and how in not asking any questions they keep problematic men or systems in power. But beyond that aside, the main point I’m interested in here is that Patty’s level of power and danger is ultimately underestimated.
“I Don’t Think I Know You At All”
This is not to say that she is all powerful. Because of her status as a woman, she is ultimately a lot more vulnerable to damage on a lot of fronts. Whereas Patrick’s “lone wolf” personal life can go unquestioned and unscrutinized, Patty spends many interactions in the episode having to justify herself and her choices to Kurt.
And in a vindictive off-screen move, Kevin called Kurt and attacked Patty’s character, which makes Kurt question his loyalty to Patty and what he’s believed as truth from her thus far. Although ultimately there is little honesty in their relationship on Patty’s part, this moment also serves as a stark reminder that when Kevin is wronged, he will harm a person’s status until they are once again below him on the hierarchy of power.
In a somewhat hopeful turn for Patty’s power, though, male Patrick is feared by all in Kevin Land except for her. She is the only one to stand-up to him. And elsewhere in a pivotal point in the episode, she manipulates Allison to give her the oxy she stole.
Granted there is a level of desperation and vulnerability present when she talks to Allison, but Patty knows what she’s doing, and she knows how to work Allison. She’s spent years making digs at her in Kevin Land, so she does know her weak spots well.
Ultimately I’m confident that if Patty leans into her criminal mastermind brain, and if Allison continues to honour herself and her desires, that there does seem to be a successful partnership forming between the two of them. What stands in their way, though, is of course the many men that run the town, and the houses they live in. Not to mention Allison’s recent impulsiveness could come back to bite them if she isn’t more careful.
I know this (new) plan will be anything but straightforward, especially given the new variables and characters entering the photo, but darn if this isn’t going to be an entertaining little marshmallow to watch char.