The following contains spoilers for Kevin Can F**k Himself S2E7, “The Problem” (written by Valerie Armstrong and directed by Craig DiGregorio).
If you’ve been reading my articles all season, you’ll know that I have had some trouble taking Kevin Can F**k Himself on its own terms. At this point, I think I have to admit that’s on me. It’s on me that I wanted to see Kevin wreck Tammy’s life and for everyone to have to deal with the fallout. I wanted a version of this show that was darker, and maybe spending so much time watching Barry this year primed me to predict the paths that would have led Kevin Can F**k Himself into ever blacker humor.
But this series isn’t Barry, and the comedy isn’t black, no matter what it says on Wikipedia. That’s OK, though, because I think if I could take it on its own terms, Kevin Can F**k Himself works. Maybe once I see the season finale I will be able to do so.
S2E7 (“The Problem”) sets the stage for that final act. Allison has decided she doesn’t want to fake her own death. She wants to stay, presumably because her relationships with Patty and Sam make it worthwhile, but also because she’s realized that she values her life insofar as it’s hers. And maybe she can deal with Kevin if she stops fighting it and simply gives in to being on his winning team.
Of course, at the end of the day, she can’t. She can’t bring herself to sign the affidavit that would take Tammy down and to become truly complicit in what Kevin represents. So by the end of S2E7, she’s left and become Gertrude. Maybe finally she can sleep.
The big thematic question is whether this feels like a victory. I won’t judge that for you. The big narrative question is whether it will hold or be undermined in next week’s finale.
It almost seems like it has to be undermined in order to fill the hour. Will Kevin find her? Will Tammy? Will Nick wake up, spill the beans, and force Allison to return to save Patty? What is the endgame of this show at this point? Given that all of my predictions about where Season 2 was going have been wrong so far, I think I’ll just forego making any right now, but I do hope that we get some closure with regard to characters besides Allison.
In particular I’m surprised how invested I am in Neil’s story, given where we started with his character in Season 1. When he tells Allison that he’s not a problem for her, because he’s relayed his story to any number of people (including Kevin) only to find that no one believes him or takes him seriously, it’s deeply sad. Fair enough, Neil created this situation for himself insofar as he’s lived his life in a way that makes everyone shrug him off, but he’s become truly listless as he’s confronted the truth of who he is.
Diane suggests to Patty that she loves Neil, or she doesn’t know if she does. Maybe she just doesn’t want to be alone. But maybe there isn’t always a difference.
I think we have to take all of this in relation to the grappling with the absurd forces symbolized by Kevin: the fact that everywhere who wins and who loses never seems to be determined by anything resembling justice. It kind of doesn’t matter whether it’s charm or the patriarchy that’s to blame. It’s as though the sitcom reality can’t be destroyed. So we either have to learn to live within it or try to escape.
Maybe there are worse things than finding comfort in another broken soul in a seedy motel.
Allison has left, but at the same time Tammy has confronted Patty about the Vermont footage, so in many ways it seems like the damage has been done. Can Patty salvage their relationship with Allison out of the picture? Does she even want to?
I look forward to seeing how this all wraps up in the series finale. Kevin Can F**k Himself maybe hasn’t always been the show I most wanted it to be, but I still think it’s got a shot to stick the landing.
See you next week.