Last Man on Earth has continued to strip away the layers of the Man Formerly Known As Phil Miller until there’s practically nothing left of him. Each time he tries to re-invent himself or change the story with a fresh wardrobe of lies, it’s only a matter of time until the seams begin to show and he’s left with even less than he had before. So it’s not too surprising when the last thing that he has left—his title of President of the United States—is ripped away from him. Clearly this tidal wave of comeuppance that Tandy has been facing for all of his selfish deeds is not yet done with him. There is still hell to pay.
Can we also just take a moment to consider the amount of guts it takes to just change Forte’s character’s name to Tandy after eleven episodes? It made me so happy to see it sticking (to the point that he’s even giving himself nicknames like “the Tandyman” to compensate), and it’s such a ballsy move; like Buster losing a hand on Arrested Development. I hope he never gets it back.
The new Phil’s presence is immediately felt as he begins whipping the cul-de-sac into shape by getting the cows down the stairs and fixing the rest of the problems that are present. It’s a lot of fun to see the wonder of Phil continuing to wash over everyone, as Tandy and Todd keep on losing their minds. The complication of Phil moving in with Tandy is a pretty great one too, as Phil continues to try and assert his dominance in an impossible situation that’s like if ALF were trying to take on Superman.
Forte has proven that he pretty much has flawless chemistry with everyone on this cast, but his dynamic with Kodjoe as Phil is such a different beast. They operate on highly opposing frequencies, and I’m so happy that their living arrangements weren’t reversed by the end of the episode. Simple stuff like Tandy chewing a far-too-long stem of hay while trying to seem in control at his “farm” with Phil feels effortless. It’s an easy homerun as Tandy’s manic sarcasm and need for approval simultaneously unravel around the guy.
The grenade that Todd ends up blowing himself up on is in his continued paranoia over Melissa’s feelings about Phil. He preemptively breaks up with her, in a move that’s maybe more destructive than Tandy’s been all season. It’s sort of great that Todd and Tandy can talk and bond over all of this and have settled into a nice camaraderie as the season comes to a close. It’s one of my favorite new aspects to the series, and watching them try and “Frankenstein’s monster” Phil into a villain that can be taken down is even better.
It’s also a small touch, but a pretty telling one that Tandy still clings onto his menagerie of ball friends at the bar. These friends were created when he had no one left to talk to or share anything with, and while it might have even made sense to hang onto them when a few people arrived in Tucson, there are now more people than balls amongst Tandy. These are the “people” he keeps returning to though.
Arguably, this is one of the simpler episodes of the season. The beauty and perfection of the new Phil is basically ruminated and squabbled over for twenty-two minutes, and it’s already something that took up a good chunk of time in the back end of last week’s episode. All of this works well enough, but it is just a lot of women getting swoony over a hunk, and as well written and performed as it may be, it’s hardly the deepest thing the show’s done.
What does work quite well is what appears to be a truly tender bond between Carol and Phil, and it’s handled in such a nice, understated nature through the episode—until the loud, ridiculous redux on Carol’s bedroom talk (and seeing Phil keep up with it is wonderful). It’s definitely an interesting angle for the show to explore considering that Lord and Miller have said that Tandy and Carol are the Adam and Eve of the series, and the true core of the show. That might have just been talk for the time, but as a real bond seems to be forming between Phil and Carol, that complicates this relationship in an exciting way.
Then again, they said that Phil Miller and Carol were the Adam and Eve of the show; maybe they were just slyly not indicating which Phil they were talking about.
The rest of the episode is dominated with Phil sowing a field of lies as he tries to carry on that he’s put a farm together as a means to prove he’s been thinking of everybody’s well being. In all honesty, the group probably should leave Tucson and Phil brings up a number of good points why, but the brief glimpse of honesty we get into Tandy’s past is pretty illuminating. We learn that he grew up in Tucson, and seeing him want to hang onto something familiar through all of this means even more after everything that he continues to lose.
The final note the episode goes out on is quite an exciting one and a real gem to ride into the finale with. I’m particularly on board with Tandy and Todd’s murder pact—and am taking it seriously rather than just guy gab—because it’s felt to me like Phil has been eager for murder ever since the early days of Todd getting in his way of Melissa. We’re beginning to see that Todd is perhaps a much more unhinged, unstable man than we’ve thought him to be (or at least takes a break-up super hard), and so with him feeding into Phil’s crazed ideas, these two could actually go forward with this.
While murder seems like maybe going a little too far for this show, it also feels absolutely within the series’ grasp as well, and a pretty big moment to go out on. As the season wraps up, it would make cyclical sense for it to return to the darker places that have been hinted at continuously. Lord and Miller have also spoken heavily about this show getting into the societal norms and laws that come into play when there is no society, and that’s certainly a big thing to get into when murder’s on the table.
Whether it happens or not, it’s going to be a grand finale, which is saying a lot when looking at the trajectory that the season has had. We might even see the start of Tandy’s caper crops beginning to grow.