“Everyone’s still dead…Oh, thank God.”
We open on the bizarre sequence of Phil and Carol having a wedding ceremony where they’re completely alone, yet fully decked out in wedding garb. Carol is elated and Phil is simultaneously terrified. The sequence continues to get more and more unnerving until a whole congregation of people are celebrating alongside the supposed last man and woman on Earth, and I’m reminded why I love this show so much and can’t wait to watch it.
This is of course a dream, and Phil is snapped out of this nightmare but still awaking to another. The episode immediately has a strong voice and visual style to it, so it’s not surprising to see that Emily Spivey (Saturday Night Live, Parks and Recreation, Up All Night) wrote it, with Jason Woliner (Human Giant, Eagleheart, Brett Gelman’s Dinner With… specials) directing. Lord, Miller, and Forte did an incredible job establishing this universe, but it’s great to see the other writers and directors on the staff (I also spotted Andy Bobrow of Community fame in the credits) are also of the highest quality.
As the issue of Phil and Carol getting married is gotten into, which was brought up last week, we see it leading to the two of them butting heads. They bicker over who should be president of what’s left of the world, and there’s a solid recurring gag involving walkie-talkie etiquette. These squabbles are had around a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex skull, as we get another glimpse of more of the priceless artifacts that are amongst their mansion home in Tuscon.
Initially Carol is leading this episode a lot more than Phil, and it’s nice to get a good showcase of her at this point. Forte’s Phil is still very strong here though, and scenes like his bachelor party with his myriad of ball friends, which includes a flamethrower, are fantastic. This flamethrower leads to another great example of joke escalation, which this show is already establishing as a trademark of theirs. We go from seeing Phil flamethrowering a pyramid of toilet paper, to then lighting some popcorn on fire, which he then tries to eat while it’s exploding, and then finally flaming up a bunch of wigs on mannequin heads. There’s not a lot of logic to this, but just indicative of what you might need to resort to for fun when you’re living in the aftermath of the world ending. You make do with what you have, which is essentially the point of the episode.
While this is all very funny, there is a very real emotional core to it as Phil sees himself being married to someone who isn’t “the one” but not really having another choice in the matter. Even still, he fights his tendencies to have a last-minute fling with the mannequin that got away. He wants to be good. He still cares about who he is, which makes this arranged marriage all the more crushing. Or Phil’s complete failure in doing the one job that was required of him for the wedding.
All of this works because if Phil didn’t care about any of this, it’d be no big deal when Carol storms off. He’d continue on with the rest of his life. But he axes down a door to get to her, that’s how much he cares. His desire to want to work this out paired with Carol’s complete commitment to all of this makes this all genuinely moving. Phil walking in on the absolutely beautiful wedding display that she’s been setting up all day after he’s messed things up is gutting. He’s just been setting things on fire all day.
The juxtaposition between Phil’s nightmare wedding at the start of the episode and the actual wedding is pretty great. In reality a cassette tape coaches them on when to speak and what to say. This is hardly the fairy tale moment that you might expect, Phil wears a hoodie rather than a tuxedo, but it’s quirkiness feels more appropriate to who they are. Just like the visual of the ring(s) that Phil ends up getting Carol in the end.
It’s a smart move on the episode’s part to give us a brief taste of Phil and Carol’s married life rather than just ending at their reconciliation, because this treats us to a number of delightful things. Carol’s dirty talking during sex is some hilarious, absurd stuff, as is her request for the mortified Phil to have more “sexual jibber jabber.” But seeing them fall into a rhythm is really amazing. Rather than seeing Carol being uptight about all of Phil’s more unusual behavior, seeing her play indoor racquetball alongside him, wield the flamethrower herself, and share in wonton destruction with Phil is a great new dynamic for the show to explore.
Early on in the episode Carol discusses making some raisinballs instead of meatballs because meat is no longer around. So if meatballs can no longer exist, this is the next best thing. It’s an economical distillation of what this experience for them has been all about. When life gives you raisins, you make raisinballs, and if you are the last man and woman left on Earth, you might as well make the most out of it. Even if you’re choking down every bit of life.
In what’s also becoming par for the course with this show, the episode ends on a huge cliffhanger which again shatters the status quo of the series. Just when you’re getting used to raisinballs, a big hunk of meat lands in your lap. I’m legitimately excited to see where this is heading and to watch the next episode and that’s not the sort of feeling that’s often conjured up by sitcoms. This show has already built a great momentum only three episodes in, and I have no doubt that the show will only get better as it goes on. It looks like it could be tough times ahead for Phil and Carol.
Remember to smile : )