This review of The Last Man on Earth contains spoilers.
The Last Man on Earth: Season 2, Episode 8
“TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More”
Reproduction has been a large conversation topic on The Last Man on Earth for the past few episodes now, and it seems that talk of this has become so rampant that it’s ended up inseminating the mind (and uterus) of the crew’s cow. The calf that the cow ends up giving birth to not only signifies a brighter future ahead for the Malibu gang, but the prospect of there being more delicious non-cricket meat nearby. The group’s respective hunt this week accordingly turns into a search party for the errant bull that got their cow pregnant.
Surprisingly the bull search ends up taking up less of the episode’s runtime than you might imagine, with instead a lot of the focus going to Phil locked up in the stocks (Melissa again becomes the audience surrogate with the observation, “Wow we’re really using these things on a weekly basis now…”). With his mind set on redemption, Tandy is perpetually giving Phil a pep talk throughout the episode as he tries to move him to a positive place. In one of many touching pieces of dialogue out of Tandy this episode, he tells Phil, “Like it or not, we’re family. And you never give up on family.” But in spite of Tandy’s care for him, Phil continually tries to weasel his way out of his current situation, like Satan caught in a trap, and eventually achieves his goal.
Elsewhere, Gail’s trauma this week is accentuated in the sadlarious scene where we see she hasn’t just built a Gordon counterpart to keep her warm, but that she presumably has also been having sex with said counterpart. We’ve never got to focus too much on Gail throughout the series, but I’m enjoying seeing just how badly she’s been messed up over Gordon’s death. She may never be fully put in the spotlight, but these glimpses into her psychosis have been fascinating so far and I hope are leading somewhere other than attempting to play for laughs. Getting to unpack Gail some (and admittedly, we do get a tiny bit of it here) would be a great service for the series. This recent development between her and Todd seems like a good move on the show’s part — and should honestly be a more refreshing pairing than what Todd and Melissa have provided for the show lately — and I’m curious to see how heavy a focus it will become in the coming episodes.
On another level too, it’s nice to see different pairings of characters beginning to share more and more secrets with each other. It’s a welcome juxtaposition to the show’s first season where romance was on everyone’s minds. Secrets binding everyone together is a whole different kind of connection and it’s a nice way to further bring these people together. Tandy refers to this group of misfits as a team and a family throughout this episode, and seeing more intimate moments be forced onto these people is forming them into a family, whether they want it to happen or not.
It’s this exact sort of familial trust that Tandy instills in Phil that leads to him leaving the group, much like he wanted to weeks ago. Even though this doesn’t end up being the last that we see of the character, it’s telling that even in abandonment Tandy tries to turn this search for a bull into a search for Phil, unable to give up on this family member while everyone else is more than content with letting him move on. The Last Man on Earth tries to juggle a lot of sensibilities, but it’s undeniably become a much warmer show this season. It’s hard to believe that only a few episodes ago Tandy was exiled from this group of people and rendered mute, and now he’s losing sleep over the well being of his sworn enemy who stole his own name. Tandy, and everyone, have come a long way in the short time that we’ve known them and seeing the show try to build them as a group (and several sub-groups) now that it’s established them separately is an idea that seems to be working in the show’s favor, even if it is taking its time on the matter.
And on the topic of family, someone that’s certainly without one and feeling more hopelessly alone than ever is Mike Miller. And hey! Space Sudeikis was actually returned to and not just a figment of our collective imaginations! We don’t get much of a glimpse of him this episode, but the show wanting us to remember that he exists once again is significant and hopefully a hint of things picking up with Mike Miller shortly. His repeated attempts to communicate and make contact with Earth are going to surely get through shortly enough even if they might currently seem fruitless.
Even if he does have actual family alive and well (relatively speaking) out there, he for once seems resigned to his doomed fate.
A sounding board of worms isn’t exactly the same sort of support group as living breathing humans in Malibu, as twisted as they may be.
Because even if they might nearly come to blows in this episode, when it comes down to crunch time they can tranq-dart a bull like nobody’s business. And isn’t that what family is all about?