If Kevin Can F**K Himself’s fourth episode, “Live Free Or Die,” planted sufficient seeds to show Kevin as an emotionally manipulative abuser who successfully isolated Allison, “New Patty” cements the idea. He is so upset at her and Patty for not bringing him a Top Dog burger (gobbled up by the two teens they drove around in Vermont looking for pills) that he kicks Patty out of their hopeless little friend group. He’s probably galloping away on his high horse and thinking what a monumental loss for her this must be. Patty is definitely more hurt by this than she lets on, because Kevin also went ahead and destroyed her reputation and relationship with Kurt. She is finally fully comprehending what Allison means when she says if Kevin isn’t the center of the world, he burns it down.
The episode picks up right after Allison and Patty’s conversation when she reveals her plan of killing him. Naturally, Patty doesn’t take her seriously enough, telling her that “Maybe you talk and think a big game, but come on, when it really comes down to it, you’re like wallpaper. In the nicest way possible.” She didn’t mean it as an insult, but Allison is determined to prove her wrong the very next day now that her confident side is waking up after a decade of dormancy. She lets her rebellion start slowly. She first steals lipstick (the shade is purple and she ends up disposing it). Murphy shows a nice degree of surprised pride in the scenes when Allison sticks up for or does something only for herself; as if amazed she’s still got it in her.
Next, Allison quits her job at the liquor store. She rightfully picks a fight with a disrespectful customer—she gets to let off some pent up steam here too—but her boss, Diane, suggests she should grin and bear it instead of raising her voice. Clearly, Allison seems to be mostly surrounded by women who follow traditional societal constructs. It’s why she is subconsciously compliant when it comes to Kevin in the sitcom world. Anytime she tries to make a point, it goes unheard, whether it’s as simple as telling him to remove beef from the oven after six hours or a big change like wanting a nicer home. We are slowly chipping away at her reasons for wanting to kill him. As Annie Murphy also told The A.V. Club when the show premiered, “The decision is symbolic of how his death is the only way out, it’s how she gets her freedom and the ability to keep on living.”
With two mutinous acts under her belt for one day, Allison goes big for the third. She strides into Sam’s place of work and the two succumb to their lingering attraction and have sex. She also accepts a job working at the restaurant he runs. Is Allison working at Bev’s Diner a terrible, horrible idea? Yeah, it probably is. She fondly remembers her escapades with Sam from when they were teenagers, so it’s understandable why she runs back to him now, technically returning to where she arrested developmentally and emotionally; when she felt was most free to become whoever she wanted to be. Unfortunately, their hook-up also implodes Sam’s marriage with Jenn, who is seemingly a wonderful and friendly person. Allison’s takedown of Kevin has more collateral damage than she anticipated.
Meanwhile, Kevin spends most of the hour replacing our Patty by going on the hunt to replace her and finds another, far more unhinged friend named Patrick a.k.a Patty (Jon Glaser). He also makes a murder board of sorts to convey his disappointment of Allison quitting the liquor store—calling it a “little tantrum” but not asking her what caused it—and losing their 10% discount on alcohol. But the more insightful portion of the episode comes next. Kevin surprisingly seriously tells Allison “I demand loyalty, our marriage demands it.” It’s another big hint of what drives Kevin’s motivations, even if his own perception of the concept is so skewed that he’s only ever loyal to himself and his own needs.
The episode justifies its title because by the end—Patty is a total convert. Not only does she understand why Allison wants to off the guy, she decides to help her out. Patty is being blackmailed by Nick (Robin Lord Taylor), the nephew of a client, who reveals that the old ladies she sold Oxy to thinking she was helping them were actually just selling them further ahead. Ah, Worcester: a neat little breeding ground for pill pushers. Anyway, with Patty’s supply halted, more and more clients are getting agitated and Nick suggests she quickly find a way to bring more in. Now both Allison and Patty are in dire need for pills, so they decide to work together and pin Kevin as the local drug dealer instead, hoping he gets killed in some kind of police shootout. They think it’s a win-win, but it’s a flawed plan at best. They’re about to bring the phrase “partners in crime” to life in the next three episodes.
- The episode’s two guest stars, Jon Glaser and Robin Lord Taylor, sure do look quite unrecognizable from the roles they’re known for, Parks And Recreation’s Jeremy Jamm and Gotham’s Oswald Cobblepot.
- If you go back and watch the premiere, Nick can be seen buying alcohol from Diane as Allison walks in for work.
- Is Tammy suspicious of Patty’s involvement with Terrance’s drug business, especially after spotting Nick at her salon, or does she just have a crush on the hair stylist?
- Okay, I know we usually and rightfully come after Kevin for being a total dick, but let’s share some of it for Nick this time. He just simply is okay with abandoning his sister and letting her out of the group without a fight? Yikes.
- Mary Hollis Inboden is a total scene-stealer, especially in Patty’s last scene with Kurt. Her expressions as she emotionally crumbles when he’s lashing out at her (thanks, Kevin!) and he says “I don’t think I know you at all” bring depth to the character.
- Kevin tells Allison it’s a small town so it’s easy for him to find out what she’s up to. The joke’s really on him, huh? Unless he’s also putting up a façade.
- I know most commentators wonder whether Kevin’s sitcom persona is Allison’s coping mechanism to explain away his narcissism, but I believe they’re both real worlds. The multi-cam plot lines are childish and ridiculous because they reflect him. The single-cam grittiness reflects Allison’s challenges. How will Kevin look if he’s in the latter? Definitely not as superficially goofy, but hopefully it does happen and Petersen gets to dig into his character with more nuance.