blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Kevin Can F**k Himself (2021) s02e08 – Allison’s House

Despite the title, this episode is not about Allison’s House, though there are technically two houses in the episode Annie Murphy’s protagonist could be possessive about. It’s also not really about Murphy; it is, but it also isn’t. The show’s grown quite a bit since its first episode, with Murphy realizing her life as the “too good looking for my schlub husband” sitcom wife was all bullshit and her husband, Eric Petersen, was an obnoxious, lying man child. The first season grew Mary Hollis Inboden from supporting cast to co-lead and gave Murphy a real-world character arc with high school crush grown-up Raymond Lee.

This season’s been all about Petersen’s best friend, Alex Bonifer, realizing Petersen sucks—very simplified recap—and liking liquor store clerk Jamie Denbo, who’s stuck in a miserable marriage similar to Murphy’s. There’s some beautiful echoing between the seasons and their respective adultery arcs. In the latter half of this season, Candice Coke’s gotten a lot more to do as Inboden’s girlfriend, a cop investigating, well, Inboden and Murphy, usually unknowingly. As Petersen’s dad, even Brian Howe has gotten a character arc this season. So while “Kevin” hasn’t exactly become an ensemble show, the supporting cast has become far more critical than they started.

House shows a Worcester, MA unlike any we’ve seen before on “Kevin”—one without Murphy—and how everyone reacts to it. The action picks up six months after last episode’s surprise finish, with Inboden playing amateur P.I. and trying to track Murphy, Lee becoming her reluctant sidekick. Coke has moved in with Inboden but is getting sick of living in Worcester and wants to leave. Inboden’s reluctant, which Coke assumes has to do with “mourning” Murphy.

Meanwhile, Petersen’s milking his widower status, getting Howe and Bonifer to dote on him while dating the shoe girl from the bowling alley. Erin Hayes plays the new girlfriend; she makes an excellent impression in three scenes. Bonifer and Denbo are still carrying on, just at somewhat different speeds.

By the end of the episode, everything gets resolved. There isn’t much in the way of surprises—so they didn’t introduce multiverses or time travel, like last episode briefly implied might be possible (so, no spoiler?)—just thorough, exquisite character development and acting. Show creator Valerie Armstrong gets the script credit and makes her directorial debut with the finale. She’s off to a phenomenal start.

“Kevin”’s been an almost entirely outstanding show; Murphy and Inboden’s acting is off the charts, Petersen’s spectacular, and this season gave Bonifer, Coke, and Denbo glowing adjective turns too. The first season was a wild, dangerous ride; this season’s been a far more introspective and personal one, with the finish tying the bow.

It’s so damn good. I can’t wait to binge-rewatch it someday.

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