This The Last Man on Earth review contains spoilers.
The Last Man on Earth: Season 2, Episode 10
“And the Wright Brothers weren’t pilots until they stepped into that plane…”
Life is beautiful, isn’t?
It’s beautiful in the form of Christmas Grinch Phil Miller fighting to survive over the holidays, and it’s beautiful in the form of Phil, the new worm that’s been birthed thousands of feet above the Earth’s surface. And while we’re talking about beautiful, that footage of Mike reeling himself back into the Space Station is some of the most gorgeous stuff that any sitcom has been conjuring up this year (it should be no surprise that wunderkind Jason Woliner, hot off his stint on Nathan For You’s gamechanging finale, is behind the camera).
It almost makes up for the impossibly contrived ending to last week’s fantastic episode, but really, did anyone think that Sudeikis was checking out of this show already? Also, while Mike naming this new worm Phil is all sorts of sweet, I couldn’t help but see it coming. When we originally saw the wall of names that he had for the rest of his worms and Phil wasn’t amongst them, I became pretty sure that if a new worm were to arise it’d be getting the brotherly treatment.
Back on Earth, this is the sort of stuff that I was hoping Last Man would eventually get into. I thought amateur surgery was going to come in the form of Melissa’s hand injury but Phil getting appendicitis is a much juicier problem. The idea that Phil needs an organ to be removed and none of these people have medical history (let alone them having the right tools) is a legitimately scary prospect, and a strong one to not only ride out the holidays with, but also this winter finale.
Gail embracing this position does a ton for her character and it’s hard to believe that a mere two episodes ago I was hoping that she’d get more development. Steenburgen has been killing all of this, whether it’s her grief over Gordon’s death, her impromptu romance with Todd, or rising to be a hero over the holidays. It’s a great turn all around and frankly I hope each character is put under this sort of trial by fire by the end of the season (and many of them have in their own respective ways).
This episode moves to some pretty ridiculous places in the most logical ways possible. As Gail accepts her role, finding the right specimens to practice on becomes the next step resulting in a wonderful trip to the morgue from Tandy and Todd. When that doesn’t bear any fruit the episode takes a turn for the horrible as all of Gail’s trauma dovetails together when Tandy digs up Gordon’s corpse for her to practice on.
As much as this idea “makes sense”, it’s also one that could very much break Gail and it’s a little surprising that Todd lets Tandy go through with it considering he knows what Gail has been going through — and especially because of what it does to him. The beautiful development that none of this is needed and it becomes their own shared trauma as they re-bury the body is pretty much the perfect place for all of this to go.
While I was effectively blown away by the spirit of family and community that “Secret Santa” brought forward so well, the end of this episode rubs its face in mud while giving it a wedgie. The first season of this show constantly had me forgetting that I was watching a sitcom and as the final minutes of this installment throw you into intensive surgery and a crash landing onto Earth, I couldn’t help but feel the same way. It’s a tour de force conclusion — and it knows it — and it’s the absolute right note to go into a hiatus on.
I daresay it’s also the most powerful sequence the show has put together, completely banking off of what it’s been establishing this season. The status quo is going to be irrevocably changed when Last Man comes back, and I suppose that it’s only fitting that as soon as all of these people got comfortable with one another yet another life-wrench would be thrown into the mix.
It’s going to be a long wait until March when the show returns, but at least we’ve got Body Lockers to bust a move to in the meantime.