This The Last Man on Earth review contains spoilers.
The Last Man on Earth: Season 2, Episode 18
“No Todd, we’re the survivors, and I’m trying to keep it that way.”
Last Man on Earth is truly a show that is trying its absolute hardest to buck convention and surprise and impress their audience. It’s crazy to look back on the first half of this season in terms of just how much has gone on, but even crazier when reflecting back to season one (remember when Tandy had a perm!). In two seasons this show has managed to pack in so much absurdity and I’m so happy that a third season is a certainty and that this finale doesn’t have to hang with the haunting fear that the show may not return.
When this episode begins, and even with this show’s history, it very much feels like this could be an installment that’s just Tandy and Mike hashing it out together as Mike slowly passes on. Something like that wouldn’t even be a bad finale per se, what with the chemistry that Forte and Sudeikis have brought to the table for the final stretch of episodes of the season. Last Man on Earth is often a show that has so many balls (with faces on them) up in the air that this is one time that I’m glad to not be getting a more muted, solitary sort of episode. Yes, the episode does dip into that a number of times, but it still takes on a much fuller plate. For one thing, we’ve got drones, baby! And it’d have been a tragedy if the show waited until next season to return to that nugget.
What’s even more exciting is how swiftly the episode deals with the drone in the form of Melissa sending some hot pieces of lead into its drone-y face. I couldn’t be happier that those stoic scenes of Melissa unwinding by firing her gun earlier in the season have actually come into practical use. We can see that she’s a hell of a shot, and as the rest of the group is eager to communicate, she wants to shoot first and ask questions later. It’s also appreciated to see some sort of deep-seated survivor issues coming into play with the character. The group has seen a lot of death and so with the recent exodus of Mike (and their cow) it’s absolutely normal that some of these people are going to be depressed as hell and edgy when it comes to the topic of preservation. The almost afterthought of her later being in the stocks as a result of this erratic behavior is almost too good.
Away from Tandy and Mike it’s nice to see a few more domestic moments being got into. I cheered in joy over the Yorbalinda and Bezequeel callback and it slipped my mind that now that Carol is pregnant, those could actually be one of the names of her child. Later on the episode makes a meal (sorry) out of moments like the group hitting the last of their cheese supply. I’m always a fan of these more human, dire beats on the show, whenever they happen. It’s a moment that just as easily could have been skipped over but if your cow just died and your dairy supply is finished, you would lament over something like this. On the topic of cow fatalities, I certainly feel bad for entertaining the idea that Todd might have been responsible for the cow’s death last week. He’s acting much more levelheaded here without Tandy’s approval being on the table.
Also, that was fast for Gail’s sobriety, huh? In what could have been an opportunity to address the character’s demons, this is pretty quickly swept under the table once her imaginary flying waffle iron is made real. I’m sure we’re not done with this angle of the character, and naturally an addicts first inclination here would be to go back to indulging. Nevertheless, I’m still a little bummed that this development might take a little longer for Gail.
Before we dig into the heavy Mike and Tandy material, the fact that Tandy’s vehicle of choice is the friggin’ DeLorean from Back to the Future needs to be addressed. This madness is not dwelled on for a single second and it’s a perfect example of the beautiful attention to detail and the hyperbolized world that this show takes place in. Something as simple as a car becomes this great visual gag. You really can’t believe that you’re getting some of these visuals.
Matters begin surprisingly light between Tandy and Mike here. I’ve said it plenty during these last few episodes but it’s just so much fun seeing Tandy and Mike brother it up and rib each other over the stupidest things. There’s a lengthy scene that revolves around a thirty year old fart’s potency and it’s a worthy distillation of their relationship. They turn childhood hijinks into scientific debate as the yin to the other’s yang is reflected. Later on Tandy gets Mike back by masquerading hot sauce as crippling infection. Just brothers being brothers, y’know? The fact that the episode’s title is even a reference to this buffoonery rather than anything space or drone-related reflects this welcome binary even further. This show is so smart about being stupid.
All of this material resonates even more so when all of the silliness is cut through by the fact that—right, Mike is probably about to die very soon. Tandy has been a pretty stalwart source of effervescence and optimism throughout this show. During the bummer times of Gordon and Phil 2’s deaths, he used his jester-like nature to bolster the spirit of the group. So when Tandy continues this attitude with Mike, only for him to tell him to cut the bullshit and to be real “about anything, about everything” it’s a pretty damn powerful moment. When Mike moans that, “everything’s a friggin’ joke to you,” he’s right, but can you also blame the guy for being in denial about losing his brother after just getting him back? The whole situation is one that made me think for the first time what a different character Tandy might be after this experience. His spark might be a whole lot dimmer after this and there won’t be the jester present to buoy him back to healthy Tandy levels. Now he’s even got the self-doubt that all of that joking around isn’t healthy in the first place if he can’t turn it off.
The fact that this heart-to-heart is happening on Mike’s deathbed while Tandy looks like this stupid monster due to his hair disaster just elevates this material higher. It’s so underneath everything that’s going on that it’s crazy how many extremes that this show can balance at once. Somehow this scene not only escalates to a warmly lit, romantically shot moment of Mike shaving Tandy, but it’s set to the lovely original rendition of “Falling Slowly” at that. It’s crazy how much mileage the show has gotten out of that song and made it the official Tandy/Mike ballad (for no reason) over the course of three episodes.
Emotions continue to ping pong back and forth between the Miller brothers with the episode not wasting what very well might be their last time together. Mike wants to die alone in peace, and Tandy can’t accept that. The serrated edge of their relationship, the one full of resentment and pent up feelings, begins to leak out. “The only time you came close at being special is when everybody died except you,” begins a very biting takedown of Tandy that Mike explodes in, only to essentially conclude it all with the praise, “You re-started society.” It’s all pretty poetic, especially in juxtaposition to Carol’s later claims to Melissa that this new post-drone world can’t suck. There are growing lives on the line.
Tandy leaving Mike with his ball buddies is a moment so powerful and significant it made me cry. This is the Tandy that has evolved, grown, and helped re-start society, not the loser temp version. And he’s growing more all the time. As Carol points out, he’s going to be a great father. I also totally don’t mind the show not containing Mike’s death nor confirming that he actually was infected, just in case Sudeikis’ schedule clears out in the future and he’s capable of returning. I get TV, you guys.
With the Mike material in the show’s rearview mirror for now it quickly shifts to its much more pressing issue. I feel like a huge idiot for never connecting the dots to the much smaller scale explanation that the drone could be connected to Pat O’Brien from “Pitch Black,” rather than the military or government. It actually makes too much sense that he’d be naturally suspicious of what happened to Mike after their time together and was trying to spy on him to see what was going on. The hornet’s nest that Tandy and company are now in, without the help of Mike for context no less, it’s the perfect sort of cliffhanger to leave the season on. My mind has also immediately gone to the place of Melissa putting those rifle skills to good use as this turns into a battle for their lives in the season premiere, and then suddenly that gag of Melissa in the stocks packs a whole lot more weight. Their only means of defense is incapacitated.
Rather than bloodshed, I think what’s in fact the more viable alternative next season (also, calling it right now that the premiere will be all from O’Brien and company’s perspective post-“Pitch Black” as the show continues to Lost it up) is that the Malibu crew reason with these guys and we’re looking at three more new cast members next year. Or maybe some other option is on the table that I’m completely overlooking. Either way, I cannot wait. With what this season has given us, I think it’s fair to say that anything is possible and things are only getting started.
Oh farts, indeed.
Overall Season Grade: 4/5