Let’s preface by saying no one obviously condones full-blown murder planning, but here’s a hot tip for Allison McRoberts: Buddy, you don’t need to plan this hard to kill Kevin. Just leave him by himself for a weekend, and he will do something incredibly stupid and not survive it. Kevin Can F**K Himself’s entire fourth episode, “Live Free Or Die,” reiterates this exact point. Allison heads for Vermont with Patty to score Oxy pills, which means her dimwit husband, his father Pete, and friend Neil are by themselves. They have the freedom to pursue the idea of creating an escape room in Kevin and Allison’s basement. The twist? They lure customers by offering a $10,000 prize, but somehow Kevin, of all the people on this blue planet, will make the clues so difficult that no one will guess them. As always, his pals needlessly cheer him on, propelling him to believe he really is the superior one. Inevitably, their escape room scenario ends messily. He might get unwavering support from Pete and Neil, but it’s Allison’s absence that affects Kevin the most.
“Live Free Or Die” is meant to show that Kevin truly cannot function without his wife, who is less of a partner and more of a mother/caretaker. He doesn’t care about her whereabouts or safety, blaming her for leaving him alone to an extent that he calls the police when she doesn’t answer his calls for half a day. The concern isn’t necessarily for her; it’s for his vehicle. “I pictured you lying dead in the trunk, with some thug driving off with my car.” This gentlemanly, romantic declaration is followed by another: “I’m so glad you answered because I can’t find the Crisco.” Not once does he ask where she is, if she’s alright, why she hasn’t been responding to his calls, or when she might be coming home. He just wants to know where the vegetable oil is to slip out of a narrow window in their basement after being outsmarted by strangers. Whew.
While Kevin Can F**K Himself is relentless in proving that its titular moron really is just that, this episode blends the multi-cam storyline more into the broody single-cam one to prove to Patty (and to the audience) that Kevin hasn’t just made Allison’s life miserable by being a lazy and demanding man-child. He’s more manipulative than we realize, as revealed when Allison tells Patty he cost her a paralegal job because he was convinced she was having an affair with her 60-year-old married boss. The prank he pulled, putting sugar in his gas tank, is very much a sitcom-style joke that would be played off for laughs on any 20-minute CBS show where the wife forgives the husband and maybe gets her job back. But here, we see the real-life effect of letting men like Kevin get away with their ridiculous, possessive notions and habits. Unfortunately, it also means “Live Free Or Die” devotes a good chunk of its time to the multi-cam plot, which brings down the overall energy of the episode.
Allison and Patty’s journey should’ve occupied more real estate. Their bond continues to thaw ever so slightly during the road trip, thanks to bizarre jokes about the latter’s dead mom. The revelation that they went to the same high school but never ran in the same circles helps shed more light on why, for a decade, the two women were nothing more than slight acquaintances despite living next door to each other. When the show begins, Allison and Patty have seemingly disparate personalities, but “Live Free Or Die” solidifies their similarities too. They’re both stuck in Worcester partly because they don’t know a world outside of it. Allison says she wants to travel more, calling North Dakota “exotic” because it’s far, while Patty is seemingly satisfied in their town because “everywhere is bad.” They’re also partly stuck in their hometown because of Kevin and Neil, respectively. If they don’t take care of those men, they are sure to burn the house down. Halfway through its run, Kevin Can F**K Himself has hammered down on this second reason, but it’s the first one that needs more exploration.
What does a world away from this shitty town and their shitty families even look like? I’m guessing Allison and Patty don’t know the answer and haven’t been bold enough to seek it out just yet, instead dealing with their pent-up frustration and trauma in solitude. But not anymore. After going around in circles to get those pills—accidentally purchasing cocaine, driving around two teens only for them to get burgers, and finally, exchanging that cocaine for a gun—they’re stopped by a police officer who flags them down because Kevin reported the car stolen. It leads to an interesting shift in their dynamic. Allison becomes the take-charge one because Patty is still reeling from clocking a man she thought was Jason, Allison’s made-up stalker. Murphy and Inboden are terrific in the final few minutes of “Live Free Or Die” as their characters briefly swap traits. It leads to Allison unloading on Patty for happily participating in Kevin’s schemes or laughing at his jokes at her expense. Patty, for the first time, has stepped out of Kevin’s sitcom world and into Allison’s dreary existence as she witnesses his emotional manipulation from the other side. It also leads to Allison unveiling her true intention of killing Kevin and finally being free of him. Hopefully, this honest exchange is a game-changer for the women and the and show itself.
- “Escape Groom” is a horrible name and idea for a DIY basement escape room, but it’s an illuminating alternative show title for Kevin Can F**K Himself, yes?
- Allison tells Patty her dad was a cop, who in turn reveals her dad was a trucker, and that her mother died when they were young (it was Neil who found her). I hope these aren’t just passing remarks and the show delves into their upbringing and relationship with their parents. With only four episodes left, there isn’t a lot of time to dig into it though.
- Speaking of cops, Detective Tammy (Candice Coke) comes knocking on Patty’s door to ask about Terrance, the pharmacist a.k.a. her recently arrested drug supplier. That phone call Patty made to him was a real bad idea, huh?
- Patty, while describing why most places suck: “North Dakota probably has snakes or whatever.” Okay, who is going to tell her to watch the first two seasons of Fargo right away?
- Allison previously said in “New Tricks” that if she leaves, Kevin will just find her and bring her back. “Live Free Or Die” tries to drive this fact home in the last scene with the police officers and in various dialogues that Allison tells Patty with conviction: She has to pick up his calls or “if only” she can leave to travel some more. While he doesn’t physically abuse her, these are classic signs of mental and emotional torture.
- Here I am, once again ending a recap with a wish for some kind of flashback that helps me understand how Allison ended up with and has endured a narcissistic, egotistical husband for a decade before reaching this breaking point. Personal trauma? Societal pressure? Was Kevin a decent dude at one point? (Nah, probably not).