“Relaxxx, nobody else is gonna show up.”
It feels like Last Man on Earth could have wrapped up last week, didn’t it? Phil getting caught red handed in his reddest and most handed-est act of selfishness yet allowed him to finally open up and be the true Phil Miller to the rest of the survivors of the planet. Now, unburdened emotionally through a clear conscience, and physically through his divorce with Carol, Phil is ready to seize the world—or at least, the crumbs of what’s left of it. Perfect. Bring on season two.
Except this is far from the end. Instead we’re treated to what looks like a ghoulishly spiteful epilogue where this Twilight Zone-esque situation only gets Zone-ier. We’re told, “Seven people left on Earth and two of them are named Phil Miller,” and it’s just the perfect summation in irony of what this show is.
With the inclusion of Gail and Erica last week, I was a little hesitant to see the size of this show’s cast continue to grow into what now more than resembles the amount of people that should be in a sitcom. I love that this show is freebasing and jazzing so hard and really messing with your perception of what the cast is. But there was really something special to be said for when this show had only one cast member. Or even when it had two or three.
That being said, the cold open instantly won me over in terms of the dynamic that is now established. For instance, a cast of six allows many more awkward reaction shots for occasions like Phil and Carol dancing to accordion music on the holy ceremony of their divorce. The larger cast is all starting to click a little more and this show is still by no means feeling over-populated (although surprisingly cluttered now, occasionally). That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if somehow Gail and Erica weren’t mainstays, or that this will hardly be the last time the cast mutates.
It’s also nice to finally see some cracks start to appear in what’s been up until this point a perfect relationship, between Todd and Melissa. It’s again a pretty grounded, humbling take—which this show has been full of—on the idea of how someone like Todd can be ostensibly perfect, but that doesn’t mean Melissa can magically love him back equally. This glowing relationship, as it begins to decay, even reveals itself to be a death sentence.
With that relationship ruined, and the population reasonably finite, Todd’s comfort zones can fall considerably. That’s not to say that this is what’s going to happen, but simply raising the point is smart and casts their dynamic in a whole new light. Regardless, seeing his heart-shaped pancakes turn to regular ones is a simple, but heart-breaking gesture.
Someone who certainly isn’t struggling from a dead relationship and “burning a bridge” so to speak, is Phil, who finds himself the object of both Gail and Erica’s desires. I kind of love that even after everything that’s gone on, there are still only so many options for these people, and their disgust with Phil is wonderfully short-lived. It also means that with a cast of this size you can pull off wonderful Three’s Company-esque capers in a way that you couldn’t before. And in Phil’s case, it’s caper city (when he’s not wood chipping cans of paint into beautiful messes), and he’s not at all nervous about it, in case you were wondering.
What follows is another perfect instance of the show’s karmic value balancing the scales, as Phil tries to stagnate the series, so to speak. He alters his “Alive in Tuscon” billboard to alert any survivors that they’ve “Moved to Tampa,” and the results turn into something that would have made Jimmy McGill smile.
I think Forte is at his absolute best when he is incessantly whining, and if you need any evidence of it, MacGruber is full of proof. So to see him doing so much of this as he’s stranded on the billboard as he misses his simultaneous sex dates is pretty much perfect comedy. Jason Woliner returns to directing the series, and he really does some beautiful work as Phil is stuck up there (as well as making you glad that this show must have the apparent budget that it makes it seem like they do). It’s so wonderful that I almost wish we started there and spent the entire episode there in what would have been one of the most jarring, memorable bottle episodes in a long time.
The results are even better though, and as much as I might have lamented a cast of six, I am right away on board with a cast of seven when the latest survivor is a very attractive man who is also named Phil Miller (Boris Kodjo). I laughed out loud upon this reveal, as the original Phil Miller (Phil Miller Classic), begins to be rendered more and more irrelevant. In fact, his fate is worse than being irrelevant. He’s robbed of his name (Jenga’s a bitch), and turned into a perm-toting, sunburned freak named Tandy. We even see Todd going into panic mode and neurotically blowing it, which is a nice change of pace and again a new welcome dynamic for the show to explore. A Todd and Phil team-up feels only inevitable now, and I would have said that’d be impossible a week ago.
It’s really great to see how intricately the karma’s gone overboard this time to bring everyone to this point. If Phil hadn’t been stuck up on the billboard, Phil wouldn’t have come upon him and rescued the guy. It’s like the universe is saying, okay, you’re going to try and cut things off, well I’m going to make you basically unnecessary as a result. It’s an amazing pay-off and another example of how somehow Phil’s selfish gestures have brought all of these people together in a Rube Goldbergian fashion. You could call him a Messiah of sorts, if doing so wouldn’t go right to his head.
I really have no idea what direction these final episodes are going to go in. As soon as I thought the show was ready to re-position Tandy as its hero, it again knocks him down a few notches while introducing a new white knight. My only guess is that we’re one step closer to Phi—Tandy snapping and killing everyone.
Two more to go.