This The Last Man on Earth review contains spoilers.
The Last Man on Earth: Season 3, Episode 1
“We come in peace. We…come…in peace…”
Last Man on Earth has quickly proven itself to be a television show that truly operates by its own rules. Countless times this show has embraced storytelling that is atypical to the rest of the genre and feels truly unique. Granted, moments of sexhoundery and give or take a prank war had some people concerned the show might have been becoming a little reductive. The show’s last season helped refine the series’ voice even more in my opinion, while building a crucial foundation of emotion, which is paramount to this program.
This show has thrown a lot at its audience through its lifespan. It’s dealt with a lot of death, a newly re-committed Tandy and Carol, Jason Sudeikis as the endlessly charming Mike Miller, bacon secrets, Christmas, haircuts from hell, polygamy in process, and if I never hear the songs “Informer” or “Falling” again, it’ll be too soon. But I was particularly excited for this season premiere not only because last year ended on such a suspenseful note, but this series has built such a reputation for itself in regard to doing incredible season premieres that throw you into new chapters of insanity. This premiere doesn’t isolate you in the same way that past premieres have, but it is just as unpredictable.
Oh, and if you had any fears that the show wouldn’t be able to make Will Forte look like a monster courtesy of some insane hair mod, don’t worry, season three has got you covered in the most ridiculous way. Groucho Marx would approve.
This is a real rug pull of a premiere and there is just so much that I love about it. I love that rather than playing out some obstacle where trigger-happy Melissa is locked in the stocks through this invasion, she immediately gets out and puts her skills to use. It’s straight up bad ass that Melissa puts her lead where her mouth is and does not hesitate to straight up murder these intruders. She’s nothing if not reliable in a crisis. This death also nicely keeps this show’s growing cast in check. Not that three new people would be overcrowded, but two—one of which we’ve already spent a bit of time with—feels a lot more palpable. Killing someone is obviously a very heavy thing to do (with it looking like this behavior is already starting to affect Melissa in some exciting ways), but this is literally a life or death situation they’re looking at here. Or at least that’s how it looks.
I also love that the opening minutes of this episode play like some home invasion horror film and the tension and fear created is very much a real thing. But in perfect Last Man on Earth fashion, the premiere flips this idea on its head with this situation not being as it seems (I was fully expecting a premiere that was an all-out siege). The way that we learn of these pacifistic intentions made me not only burst into laughter but applaud. The identity of who plays, Darryl the fallen invader, is just so, so satisfying, and the series is getting a healthy reputation of introducing an A-Lister only to immediately kill them. I fully support more of this.
Also, the Malibu Crew is getting a pretty sizable cemetery going on at this point. I know that last season did Christmas, but maybe a Halloween episode this year will lead to some zany zombie action (of course the product of some expired cheese-induced hallucinations). That funeral scene is also a treasure trove of continuity. Not only do we get a shot of Gordon, but also a reminder of Gail’s accordion prowess and Carol’s drawing ability. It’s a nice introduction of these outsiders into their world.
And speaking of these outsiders, Pat Brown and Louis (Last Name Pending), everybody! It’s understandable that a lot of this premiere focuses on the two of them, with Louis and Pat being yet two more distinct character types to join our survivors. There is certainly no overlap going on here. Pat’s jean art enthusiasm is another great oddity to throw into the blender of weirdness that is the Malibu Crew and getting to see his skills in action is even better. We get to learn a little less of Louis’ hobbies, but there will be plenty of time for that in future episodes. Another reason I love this show is that as soon as Louis said that he was a surgeon, I said to myself well that’s pretty convenient for their baby situation. But before I could even finish my thought, he adds that he’s actually a tree surgeon; “more of an arborist, actually.” I love you Last Man on Earth.
Rather than having this premiere becoming a huge swath of backstory, the episode throws in the welcome complication of the gang not wanting both of these people to join their fold. Pat’s got to go. While there are a lot of shiny, new toys to play with in this premiere, the episode really boils down to the ideas of community, second chances, and if change is always possible or even the right thing to do. It’s nice to see Tandy acting in Pat’s defense and reminding everyone how much of a cyanide pill he was when he first met Carol and later everyone else. He’s a glowing example of the power of change or how first impressions aren’t always the best judgment tool. It’s a touching character moment, plus, having a potential psycho rooming with everyone is just better storytelling.
Seeing Tandy take Pat under his wing is super sweet, but I’m a little concerned as to whether he’s the best teacher for him. He compares Pat to a rescue dog at one point, but he’s literally treating him like one as the episode continues. Tandy’s blind behavior towards Pat, while commendable, is also far too understandable considering what’s just gone on with him and Mike. Let’s not forget that this episode takes place immediately after last season’s finale where Tandy only recently saw his brother for the very last time. That wound is still very fresh and Pat looks like a great hazmat suit-wearing surrogate. So even if Tandy’s clouded judgment here is a little frustrating at times, the guy deserves a pass here. Also, just how gorgeous is it to have those waves crashing against the shore while the group is mulling over Pat’s fate? This series so frequently has opportunities to show off its unique, amazing locations and cinematography, but this is a particularly strong example of how the setting amplifies the discussion at hand.
It’s certainly nice to have some fresh blood on this show, but Pat and Louis’ dynamic amongst one another is maybe the most fascinating thing about them. There seems to be some unhealthy sort of hostage vibe going on between them. I’m much more relieved to see things going in this direction versus them actually being antagonists and secretly plotting against everyone. If Pat is a threat, Louis seems to be in just as much danger as the rest of the gang.
All of this being said, it’s kind of poetically beautiful in the way that only Last Man can be when Tandy and Pat can both be collectively mourning over Mike, but oblivious that they’re talking about the same person. The world really is that small (or at least now it is). I was thinking how interesting it would be to have Pat’s connection with Mike hanging over the season and that last we saw him he still had Phil Miller, the worm, in tow. This surely would be the item that eventually led people to the truth. Nope.
Big friggin’ turd of a nope.
Okay, so maybe the first two thirds of this episode are about second chances and failed first impressions and then the final act blows that idea to pieces with a shotgun. Things take a gloriously dangerous, unexpected turn that drastically shakes up the show’s status quo and the lives of these people. Things get propelled in a very interesting direction that’s infinitely more tantalizing than a murderer living under their roof.
They’re the murderers now. And they have no roof.