This The Last Man on Earth review contains spoilers.
The Last Man on Earth: Season 2, Episode 13
“I’m sorry I didn’t have the balls to tell you that I don’t have the balls to give you children.”
The topic of fertility might not be Last Man on Earth’s most exciting subject matter, in my opinion. It’s surely a reaction that I feel solely because it is fodder that has been done countless times before in sitcoms, with the move often being a death knell for the shows. In the walkthrough that I conducted with Andy Bobrow, the main takeaway from the piece was that Forte is vehemently against this show acting like a sitcom in any way, shape, or form. It even seems like whenever decent story ideas have been pitched that have a slight resemblance to typical sitcom fodder they’ve been rejected out of fear for resembling the masses.
It’s in that sense that I feel relatively safe here regarding any baby storyline, just because this show does work so hard to be something different. And even if the show does manage to reach a point where someone has given birth, the mere prospect of trying to raise an infant in this broken world becomes infinitely more interesting than any other baby storyline attempted on TV. Besides, this episode is more about the inability to have children than anything, with it highlighting a crucial chink in the armor that’s been Tandy and Carol’s relationship this season.
With death being such a predominant factor of the show lately, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise when Carol has procreation on her mind. More specifically, she’s interested in getting to the bottom of any possible fertility issues between her and Tandy (something that’s been hinted at before). While this plot still might feel like it has some rather familiar beats to it, Carol and Tandy fill it with their own off-kilter brand of charm. Rest assured that as soon as things begin to feel conventional here, these two manage to subvert things in their own ridiculous way. Case in point, Tandy’s kiddie-pool sized Mentos and diet coke analogy for his sperm count is very much in character, as is Carol’s delightful way of spicing up the “testing” process for Tandy. The Masturbatorium is truly a sight to behold, with the various faces that compose it all managing to make me laugh several times from their Daniel Clowes-ish nature. It’s surprising how much mileage is gotten from this simple premise. Carol’s drawings of female enpornment are just as wonderful, as is the rage masturbation sequence that Tandy puts himself through in order to prove a point.
And on the topic of copious amounts of semen spilling (how’s that for a segueway?), Todd is quickly losing it from the triangle of lies that he’s found himself in with Melissa and Gail. Todd has continued to see both of them, paralyzed to hurt either of them, but digging his grave deeper in the process. It might not be the deepest material that the show has ever gotten into, but it does make for a good showcase of Mel Rodriguez’s ability, who has been having a stellar season so far. He’s great at unraveling, and when his advances begin spreading over to Erica, you really can’t believe what’s happening. His final Big Love-esque solution, along with Tandy’s immediate dismissal of it being, “super gross” is a satisfying pin to stick in it, too.
It’s a little discouraging to see Tandy lie to Carol, taking much of Todd’s lead, since their relationship has grown such leaps and bounds this season. His decision to tell her the truth shortly after is a significant one for the character, and season one Tandy would certainly be drawing this out for a lot longer. It’s a little ironic that Tandy might actually now be in a place where he could make for a decent father, only he now knows that he’s biologically unable to. As secrets are revealed and people are forgiven, “Fish in the Dish” very much feels like it’s cleaning the slate by the time the credits are about to roll. Everyone’s in a reasonably happy place here (although I was half expecting a smash cut to Todd in the stocks after his big speech), which is why the unexpected ending packs even more of a punch.
The final moments are so damn glorious and a testament to how taking your time with something can bear such satisfying fruit when done right. This reunion between Tandy and Mike is debatably one of the series’ cornerstone moments, and something that they’ve been building to for over a year now. I’m so happy to see that Last Man isn’t saving this moment for the season finale, instead treating us to it a mere two episodes after “Pitch Black.” There’s a tremendous amount of weight in finally getting to see these two brothers on screen together, and of course the typical sappiness is undercut in the best way possible.
Sometimes after being apart for so long nothing can say more than a swift punch to the balls.