The Last Man on Earth: Crickets Review
Last Man on Earth reminds us of the magical, glorious beauty that is bacon...
The Last Man on Earth Season 2 Episode 5
“We’re not bros. It’s just about the bacon.”
First off, and this is neither here nor there, but I suppose treating us to some Space Sudeikis in the premiere was really just teasing us and wishful thinking on my part. I’m sure we will be getting back to him soon enough, but clearly his presence this season isn’t going to be as large as I might have initially anticipated. I know that additional material with Sudeikis had been shot in the first season with the intention of it being peppered throughout the season rather than held off for the finale, and while I’m sure the bit we got in the premiere was newly shot footage, it almost feels like it was pulled from that culled stuff as a means of whetting our appetite.
Someone who we do get plenty of this week though is Todd, and rightly so after the cliffhanger of sorts that last week went out on. With a show that has been so focused on Tandy, it’s a little nice to shift the focus onto Todd after the arc of Tandy reintegrating himself into the group nicely resolved itself last week. There’s a wonderful, talented cast here, and to be able to dig into some of the people that aren’t Tandy or Carol feels more freeing than the show has been in some time. Mel Rodriguez is also just wonderful in general in whatever he’s in (and the unhinged, on the brink performance he’s given over the last few episodes has been fantastic) so it’s about time the show shifted its gaze back onto him.
I might have preferred that something a little deeper and psychological was going on here with Todd (and granted the “Daddy’s home” that we got at the end of the last episode is a bit of a cheat, albeit one that still works), but this is still very enjoyable television. It’s absolutely not the deepest episode the show has attempted, but seeing Forte and Rodriguez cram bacon down their throats like their lives depend on it is pretty hard to not enjoy. It’s mind boggling in the best possible way to see how they turn 42 packages of bacon into three packages of bacon in, what, two days?
On the other side of the bacon though, the revelation of discovering crickets has had everyone abuzz—well, mostly Carol. Seeing her get legitimately excited for cricket-based recipes is the absurd magic that is this show. I made it through most of Hannibal without flinching, but God if Carol ladling out her cricket casserole didn’t make me nearly dry heave. It’s a solid reminder that Jason Woliner seems to steadily be this show’s ace in the hole when it comes to directing whenever John Solomon isn’t behind the camera. One of my favorite aspects of the last episode was the reveal that the remaining canned food on the planet was about to expire and these people making haste accordingly. It’s a situation that would inevitably arise, and so this cricket-centric diet that these characters might adopt is an all too likely one (with heavy pangs of Snowpiercer thrown in for good measure).
It’s kind of rough seeing Tandy trying to bond with Todd again, and finally having a foot to stand on this time, with Todd still resisting to budge. Elsewhere though, Phil crushing hard on Carol is kind of fantastic and something I didn’t expect to be enjoying as much as I am. If nothing else it leads to the fantastic micro-scene of Carol and Melissa joking around and riffing on Erica’s eye rolls, which is now definitely my favorite scene between the two of them. In fact, January Jones kills it all around in this episode, with her tone working sublimely with everyone she’s paired up with here.
It’s extremely touching, and another touchstone example of the new Tandy at play when in spite of Todd’s deeply selfish wishes, Tandy still manages to turn him into the hero and deflect the spotlight from himself. Between this and the Erica and Phil squabbling it’s easy to see that this little crew isn’t as invincible as they might have appeared to be through binoculars many feet away. Seeing Tandy and Carol slowly unite them and fix their faults is a sweet idea, that whether they stick with it through the greater scheme of the season, it was still nice to see it play out here.
Of course by the end of everything Tandy’s good deeds have blown up in his face because some things will never change. In spite of this though, he stands tall and staunchly tries to be the better man. Carol early on in the episode says, “We’re all full of guts,” and while she might be referring to crickets, she’s never been more right about the courage that is inside of these two. What’s important here is that not only Tandy, but Todd also comes clean and there’s a strong message of honesty reigning supreme here. You might have eaten 39 packages of bacon, but when it’s ill gotten pig that’s seasoned in guilt with an anxiety glaze, it’s going to end up tasting like crickets.
In spite of the seemingly low stakes that the episode plays around in, the final statement that it closes on is a strong one that hints at an uplifting direction for the show to head towards. It’s funny to think the ridiculous events of this episode happen to be what unite Tandy and Todd in the end.
As Freud’s butcher said, “Sometimes bacon is just bacon.” But then again, sometimes it’s not.