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Jason Ritter (definitely) charms his way through Kevin (Probably) Saves the World and it (maybe?) works

October 03, 2017 at 11:49 PM EDT

But they’re not really done. Yvette tells Kevin that as the last of the righteous, he has “a sacred mission to restore balance to the world by anointing 35 new souls.” Kevin has a slight hiccup with this suggested mission: He’s not a righteous person. He’s a former investment banker who neglected his family, and as he states quite clearly to Yvette, he values “money, naps, girls, sushi, muscles, an awesome electric guitar” over serving God and protecting humanity. Perhaps the only flaw in casting Jason Ritter in this role is that it’s very easy to buy him performing good deeds as part of a righteous quest, but nearly impossible to imagine that he was ever a shallow, greedy jerk, or really anything but an adorable do-gooder (a.k.a. the Parenthood effect).

Do good he must, though, as Yvette tells Kevin it’s imperative they start building his spiritual power. Kind of going along with things by now, he starts by trying to comfort his niece. It quickly becomes clear that a grieving teen is not the easiest place to begin, so Yvette says they’ll just have to start small with simple acts of kindness, and eventually God will show him the way to the other Righteous 35, whom he will, of course, anoint with an embrace. “A hug?” Kevin scoffs. “Should I just register as a sex offender now?”

Oh and one other quick thing: Kevin can’t tell anyone that he’s the last righteous soul on earth, tasked by a secret, invisible spiritual warrior with finding and hugging 35 other righteous souls.

Which makes it particularly hard to explain to a furious Amy why he took her daughter to a meteor site, passed out, and then forgot to pick up Reese at school. But Kevin tries anyway: “The truth is, when we were in 8th grade, I sold your underwear to Kevin DeFalco.” No, wait, that’s not right: “Sophomore year I stole your band camp money to buy weed!” Okay, so Kevin literally can’t tell Amy about his quest, and these apparent jokes are the final straw for his sister, who wants so badly to heal their relationship, but can’t hold onto it to the detriment of her daughter.

So Kevin leaves. He tells Reese bye and that he’s sorry, and heads to the airport, where…things get weird. First he bumps into a young man while a video advertisement repeats “transform yourself, transform yourself” over and over in the background. He and the young man have some kind of, shall we say, spiritual connection as they lock eyes, but as Kevin chases after him, he finds that Reese is chasing after him. She’s still furious with him for not being there after her dad died, but she doesn’t want him to not be there all over again. Kevin tells her that she needs to trust that he’s going to briefly neglect her again, but this time it’s for a good cause.

He approaches the young man and explains that he’s not a good person, but something has changed in him and he’s realizing that maybe there’s something to live for, and maybe this young man is a part of that. And then he asks to hug him…

And thank the TV-version-of-God, the young man pulls out a pencil with a note on it that reveals that he is deaf, so he couldn’t hear Kevin, but Kevin can buy his pencil for a dollar. And then Kevin decides to just give him all the cash in his wallet, so the young man hugs him. Ethereal light floods the airport; trumpets blare; somewhere, doves fly, I imagine. Kevin takes Reese back home, and she suddenly opens up to him about her dad’s death, and Amy welcomes him back to the house with a tearful embrace.

Everything isn’t perfect, but it’s better than it was. When Yvette reappears, Kevin tells her, “It was like, for one brief moment, I understood the universe and my place it.” Well, that’s great and all, buddy, but Yvette tells him that guy who hugged him was not a member of the Righteous 35 — just a nice young man. Then some magic butterflies fly out of the closet and Reese chuckles across the hall as she listens to her uncle have a full-on conversation with himself. It is not a strong ending to the premiere, and yet Kevin repeatedly asking Yvette to just tell him if she has wings still got a chuckle out of me in the final seconds.

Kevin (Probably) Saves the World isn’t perfect, but as it waffles between natural charisma and a slightly forced concept, it’s better than it could be.

We wrote a react for this episode, which means we’ll just be checking in occasionally, but if this is a show you’d like to read about each week, please let us know! You can email chat@ew.com with your feedback and suggestions.

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type
TV Show
seasons
1
Genre
run date
10/03/17
Status
In Season
Network

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