This Last Man on Earth review contains spoilers.
The Last Man on Earth Season 2 Episode 4.
“I did that crime, I gotta do that time. C to the T.”
Personally, I could have gone for an entire bottle episode with Phil/Tandy (I guess we’re back to calling him Tandy now? Which I am all for) in the stocks, but I am a crazy masochist. What we’re treated to here in this excellent episode of Last Man on Earth is ultimately the much better decision, but only because things somehow get exponentially worse for the poor guy.
At the start of things here freedom for Tandy doesn’t look like an option at all, and it’s kind of beautiful to see people like Phil and Todd acting as unhinged as Tandy has been in the past while they torture him and pick away at his corpse. I kind of love the idea of Tandy getting his way back into everyone’s good graces, but with their hatred for him being so strong at this point he’s relegated to the de facto straight man role. Phil’s animosity and rage is seriously at the level that Tandy’s was in the first season towards him, that it’s a bewildering juxtaposition that works too well when you stop to consider that they share the same name. I’m just as worried that someone might get hurt now as I was last season, but in an entirely different way, and that’s very exciting.
In Tandy’s continual effort to prove that he’s changed, he insists that his time in solitude be more than quadrupled as well as showing his embracing of the name Tandy. All of this is a testament to Forte’s ability as this character as he ping-pongs all over the place, but is always endearing with each extreme that he hits. I was one of the people that was very much on board with “asshole Tandy” from the first season, but redemptive Tandy is an even larger goldmine than I would have imagined, and just more proof of how much Forte has been killing it this season. Also, and this just might be wishful thinking on my end, but did anyone else feel that Tandy’s “I’m gonna need a change of pants” was a sly “Fortin’ With Will” reference, because I’d very much be okay with that.
Directed by frequent Forte collaborators on Saturday Night Live, Matt Villines and Oz Rodriguez, they are clearly two individuals that know how to pull the best out of Forte, with this episode being his crowning work thus far. I realize that I said the same thing in so many words last week over his incredible “apologies at gunpoint” scene, but this is the real deal here. That cheese scene is a disgusting, humanizing piece of art that had me constantly yelling, “Get back into your room!” at my screen the whole time. And that’s just one of many Forte gems at play here as Tandy keeps trying to prove that there’s a good man inside of him.
Emily Spivey’s script does some incredible stuff, not just in terms of exponentially building Tandy’s pathos with each passing act, but also in the inspired decision of Tandy’s punishments increasing to a hilarious degree at a breakneck speed. As shock collar is latched upon shock collar this whole thing turns into an amazing tour de force by Forte where it seems like every muscle of his is getting a workout here. You could seriously abridge this thing into some twisted audition piece highlighting physical comedy that would get you into everywhere. There’s even moments in this episode that feel like you’re in some bizarre point-and-click adventure game as you run through the gamut of limited ways to achieve your goal of reaching your bucket of beers. This is magical television.
That is to say that it’s magical television before it even reaches the transcendent final act that is unlike nearly anything I’ve seen on television before (give or take a Seinfeld episode). Seeing Tandy more or less rendered into Lassie as he saves the day and truly proves himself is just an incredible sight to be seen and the perfect note for this already very strong episode to go out on (which is also to say nothing of Tandy’s pleading for acceptance and endearing apologies, both done entirely through charades). Tandy’s shocking sacrifice here is one of the more heartbreaking things that I’ve seen all television season, and I’m so happy that it actually bore fruit in the end.
Once again, the deck is slightly reshuffled for Last Man on Earth, but things only continue to get stronger as this wonderful cast continue to be the focus. Let’s hope Todd’s psychosis next week is nice and juicy.