This Last Man on Earth review contains spoilers.
Last Man on Earth Season 2, Episode 2.
“He’s coming back, right?”
First thing’s first: Rest in Peace, Brice
It was pretty touch and go there for a minute.
The larger painting that Last Man on Earth is trying to create is slowly coming into focus. While the first season of the show toyed with the idea as to whether Phil even liked Carol at all, or was just interested in her because there was literally no other option (give or take a mannequin). On countless occasions we saw him trying to hook up with other people, and even Carol herself seemed to have found a certain happiness with the Other Phil. However now a very different story is being told, with “The Boo” clearly making its mission statement that Phil and Carol are Meant-to-Be Soul Mates, and the show is all the better after embracing this decision.
After their gutting separation last week, we see these lovable fools braving the elements to try and find each other, with their own inadequacies and fuck-ups actually leading themselves to one another in a way that’s quite beautiful. There is a very appreciated Carol-centric first act that shows her being left to her own devices and slowly exhausting hope, almost as quickly as she is emergency flares. Great leaps are actually taken this week to put Carol on the same “fool scale” that Phil’s been on, with stuff blowing up in her face and random bad luck coming at her as if she was Murphy himself (y’know, from “Murphy’s Law,” the principle that states—never mind). But as Carol flounders, Phil seems invigorated in a way that we haven’t seen him in a while. One of his plans involves a fantastic balloon set piece (that’s of a scale that it would make Frank from China, Il envious) that director Jason Woliner kills it with, which feels akin to his “paint cans in the wood chipper” moment from last season. It’s such a bright, creative, bewildering expression, and the sort of larger than life imagery that has begun to be associated with this show.
In spite of its simplicity, I’m kind of floored by Phil’s train gesture to help locate Carol. First off, I think Breaking Bad is the only other time I’ve seen a train in a television show, and it immediately makes you feel like you’re dealing with film instead of something off of this meager televisual device. Also, the gesture immediately reminded me of Fry’s beyond-romantic proposal towards Leela, and that is something that gets high points in my book. Plus, I love that even though Phil’s plan-A works, he’s also launched out a supplementary army of machines to spread his message to Carol. There’s no doubt now a bunch of aimless vehicles out there doing their best Maximum Overdrive impressions for no one in particular. I pray we see one roving in the background in some future episode.
I also have to hand it to this show for keeping Phil and Carol’s separation incredibly short-lived, meaning that it must have much bigger stuff on its mind, which is even more exciting. With this episode feeling like the second half of an hour-long premiere (sigh, remember those glorious times last year when we’d regularly get two episodes of Last Man each week?), now that the dust has settled the show can begin to tackle its larger issues — which really, could be anything.
After Phil and Carol’s reunion has taken place, the episode wrestles with the idea of whether the “old Tandy” is finally out of Phil’s system, or if he’s still capable of falling back on his selfish ways as his honesty is put to the test. We see Phil genuinely trying to comfort Carol in response to Tucson but it comes out in the worst ways. His constructed versions of the Tucson gang that he makes so Carol will feel less lonely, for instance, are truly nightmare creatures. The episode then takes a nice subversion to the positions adopted by Phil and Carol last week regarding reuniting with old faces. Continually skewing and turning Phil and Carol’s relationship around is the right way to play with it, even if stuff gets completely out of hand (in an entirely different way) in Malibu. The relationship feeling fresh on top of that is just the icing on the raisin ball cake.
It’s not revealing too much to say that Phil and Carol do reach the old gang in Malibu — did you really think that they wouldn’t? — and just when they think that they might be prepared to deal with them, yet another curve ball is thrown their way. This one in the form of a new face being amidst the gang that is just too delightful of a surprise to give away. Seriously. But believe me, you won’t be disappointed with who the new addition is.
With the pieces being appropriately set now and the fallout from the first season having mostly been dealt with, I can’t wait to see how misfortune hits our two hapless heroes next. More than ever, Phil and Carol have felt like the comedy team super couple that this series has demanded that they become, and watching them slip on banana peels in tandem is going to make for a great season.
Anyway … Rest in Peace, Gordon.
That one I’m sure about.