Kevin Can F**k Himself S2E6: “The Machine”

Patty puts a hand to Allison's head as they stand in a living room
Photo Credit: Robert Clark/Stalwart Productions/AMC

The following contains spoilers for Kevin Can F**k Himself S2E6, “The Machine” (written by Valerie Armstrong and directed by Anna Dokoza).

“The Machine” ends with Allison telling Sam that she no longer wants to fake her own death to escape her life because she’s figured out how to solve the problems within it: make them Kevin’s problems. He has an almost magical ability to make the impediments to his happiness go away, as we’ve just learned from the fact that Sam’s ownership of Bev’s has been saved due to the threat of a lawsuit from “Kelvin McLoberts.”

This is intriguing (the position Allison has come to by the end of S2E6, not Kevin’s lazy pseudonym), in particular because Allison’s most pressing problem is Tammy, and Tammy is not only a cop but her best friend’s girlfriend. And it’s not as though Allison can predict what Kevin might do, or be reasonably confident that no one will get hurt. After all, she was injured in a car accident earlier in the hour because Kevin removed a stop sign he’d decided was his nemesis—and she knows this.

Photo Credit: Robert Clark/Stalwart Productions/AMC

If we take Kevin as a symbol for whatever forces in the world he represents (and I don’t want to overdetermine your interpretation of this), which I’ll call the machine based on the title of this episode, we can track Allison’s narrative movement as one from: (1) trying to destroy the machine in Season 1; to (2) trying to escape it in Season 2 up to this point; and now to (3) trying to coopt the machine for her own purposes.

This seems absolutely doomed to fail, or at least wreak untold collateral damage on who knows who, but it’s also ethically suspect. Indeed, I would suggest it’s more ethically suspect that trying to kill Kevin at the symbolical level, akin to trying to benefit from a corrupt system because the task of trying to dismantle it seems futile.

Yet, this new fantasy feels fun in a way the previous didn’t, so I’m happy to go along for this ride. I’ve sort of been waiting for a new arc to emerge in the back half of the season to carry us home, and it seems like this is it. (I’m also, of course, still holding out hope that Nick will wake up so we can have more Robin Lord Taylor on our screens, because he is a joy.)

Neil looks on wearing a hat and a flannel in Kevin Can F**k Himself S2E6
Photo Credit: Robert Clark/Stalwart Productions/AMC

There is also some real development in the ballad of Neil and Diane in “The Machine” that brings back a layer of poignancy Kevin Can F**k Himself has had a way of losing sight of in Season 2. It’s been there, of course, with these two characters in particular, but it’s nice to see it brought into focus.

Neil is struggling, and while I can’t say I think he’s a good guy or anything like that, his struggles illustrate something more general. He knows that Kevin is bad, yet he runs back to him anyway, wrecking his relationship with Diane. How often do we do structurally similar things?

Meanwhile, as Diane explains at AA, she’s pinned her hopes in life on him, which she knows is a mistake. And after it falls apart, she worries about him even though she doesn’t want to. This secret affair in a grimy motel room has inspired in her something like a sense of purpose.

Diane stands near a doorway in a jacket in Kevin Can F**k Himself S2E6
Photo Credit: Robert Clark/Stalwart Productions/AMC

You can hardly argue that theirs was (or is) a healthy relationship, really—and not just because Diane is cheating on Chuck—but it is a portrait of two broken souls taking comfort in one another, and there’s beauty in that. It was a shared delusion they had together that maybe somehow things could be OK in their lives, but I do think that’s shattered and not something they’ll be able to find again, even as Diane bails Neil out of jail.

Maybe Diane is on the path of becoming OK, or OK enough with not being OK to count as OK, as we have yet to see her fall back into the clutches of addiction. But maybe she will.

Neil, on the other hand, seems to be in the midst of an ongoing existential crisis, insofar as his sense of meaning and purpose has been tied up in his friendship with Kevin, which he also can’t help but see is toxic at this point. How this will factor into the endgame of Kevin Can F**k Himself is what I’m most curious about at this point. I’m imagining the threads will come together, and I hope the show manages to stick the landing.

See you next week.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

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