This The Last Man on Earth review contains spoilers.
The Last Man on Earth: Season 3, Episode 2
“I told them what they needed to hear. You know I do that from time to time…”
First off, sorry for any of the fans out there that were hoping that Cher was still out there somewhere, alive, well, and singing about tramps and thieves. Maybe Streisand is still virus-free.
After the incredible premiere that kicked off this season, it’s to be expected that “The Wild Guess Express” loses some of the steam that was built up last week. I often feel that second episodes in seasons are sometimes the most difficult to break, especially when the premieres can so often be catch-up from the previous year’s finale. Bobrow’s script does a good job at seemingly defining the larger elements of this season while slowing things down a little.
Todd is still very much emotionally raw from mowing down Pat last episode and it’s kind of beautiful to see his hopeful delusions getting shot down in favor of a heaping reality check that does nothing for his decreasingly calm nerves. While I guess it’s not too surprising that Pat’s fate from last week is a permanent one, I half expected this season to see these guys on the lam and fearing to return home.
Even at the start of this episode—which sees the Malibu Crew getting holed up in Cher’s home, of all places—I thought that they might be stuck in this ghoulish new place for an episode while some sort of riff on a haunted house episode was done (it is October, after all…). As ridiculous as that may sound, it’s also a testament to just how unpredictable this show is. I’d willingly submit to a haunted house episode just as I would Pat surviving and somehow becoming a permanent member of the group.
As heavy as this show’s material can be at times, I still love that it makes time for Tandy to just run his mouth off, with his imaginary back-up team being a prime reminder of just how damn good Forte is on this show. This delightful aside is absolutely unnecessary but it’s a very bright spot in the episode and evidence of how some table setting sort of scene can still be made ridiculous and different.
Trauma is heavy in the air this week with both Melissa and Todd pretty stricken by the recent actions that they’ve taken, even if they were necessary ones that kept the rest of the crew alive. With this show never shying away from any topic really, it’s interesting to see grief beginning to manifest itself through this form rather than the “natural” losses that the gang has experienced. Regardless, there’s been a lot of death on the show by now—to the point where corpses are just getting thrown in trash heaps rather than getting fancy Viking funerals—it’s only natural that the heavy emotions behind all of this are going to start weighing down on some of these people.
While Melissa has efficiently been a lockbox of emotions throughout most of the series, Todd wears his murderer status on his sleeve and is having a pretty hard time getting over things. It’s a little crushing to see Tandy powerless to help his sensitive friend, but then it’s even more crushing when Tandy pushes things into screwball territory by championing the outrageous white lie onto Todd that Pat isn’t dead. At this point you’re like, okay, they’re not doing a haunted house this week, but is Tandy seriously going to do a Weekend at Bernie’s here? He’s not but his deranged lunatic solution to things is perhaps even more disturbing.
I love how something as upsetting as slathering the walls of their home in death threats can actually not only seem like a good idea to Tandy, but the best idea (and how great is it that these threats will be yet another bizarre production detail to add to this show now). I somehow even understand where he’s coming from where he’d rather throw the group into a collective panic than let the more-fragile Todd get his sense of self forever warped.
“The Wild Guess Express” functions as another example of Tandy having the best of intentions, but his impulse being to just lie to please people, or telling them what they want to hear in order to avoid the real core of the problem. You know this is a terrible idea as soon as Tandy tells it to Todd, but it’s also one that’s so thoroughly Tandy that you can’t begrudge it any. It’s such an “Ohh Tandy” situation and frankly, it’s been a while since we’ve had an “Ohh Tandy” situation on our hands.
It’s perhaps not too surprising to quickly see Tandy’s humble lie start multiplying like gremlins into a whole batch of them. What’s interesting and different this time around though is that as things comfortably move into the typically hyperbolized sort of ending that this show usually sees (with Carol delivering a passionate play-by-play of Tandy’s take down of “Pat”), the new addition to the crew, Louis, undercuts it all. “Do you think we’re all idiots?” he seriously screams in Tandy’s face. He pushes the truth out of him and rather than the episode going out on some cushioned lie that would eventually explode episodes later, reality is forced to be dealt with. It’s a nice way of subverting a typical sort of Last Man episode into something different that reflects the current dynamics at hand.
And speaking about being forced to deal with reality, Melissa—who is conspicuously absent through most of this—continues to put up walls around herself as she wears a huge smile and proudly brandishes the status of Killer, a position that she can fall back into whenever the group faces a bump along the road. It’s obviously still going to be an episode or two until we get to the bottom of everything going on with Melissa, but I seriously can’t wait. Between all of this stuff and the messy Todd situation from last season, she’s got a lot of sadness bottled up inside of her.
I’m not expecting the show to get rid of January Jones (nor do I want them to), but the idea of seriously looking at suicide in this broken world could end up being a fascinating experiment. Right, right…This show’s a comedy, isn’t it? Either way there’s a huge explosion of emotion from Melissa happening soon and I’m curious of the direction her character is heading this season. Maybe this communal grief will even bring her and Todd back together again.
Lastly, because this is The Last Man on Earth, there’s a pretty glorious surprise that the episode goes out on that once again throws everything about this series into disarray. Let’s just say that this was the necessary calm before the storm that’s going to rock everyone next episode.
If you think the corpse of Cher is scary, you ain’t seen nothing yet.