This review of The Last Man on Earth contains spoilers.
The Last Man on Earth: Season 3, Episode 3
“Look, you guys know that I’m known for my rational thinking. I’m telling you, you’re getting worked up over nothing here.”
I just want to say that it’s exciting and glorious that we live in a time when television is being produced that can give us scenes like this episode’s Big Mouth Billy Bass alarm system set piece. I lost it over this bizarre, perfectly-Tandy piece of insanity, but the moment manages to resonate for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s straight-up too funny to see Tandy putting dozens of pieces of technology to good use, but the performances are also sublime. Schaal is a pure delight here; watching her and Tandy embrace while his madness grows to a cacophonous fever pitch around them is this show in a beautiful nutshell.
But then this scene also exists for an entirely practical reason: Pat is still alive, on the loose, and these guys might be in very real danger. Once more Last Man has thrown us smack dab into the middle of a very real crisis that ends up pushing the series into a very strong installment, which is an early contender for the best of the season so far.
Hot off the heels of last week’s revelation that there’s a madman on the loose, everyone rightfully shifts into panic mode as they try to figure out what the next best move is. Amidst all of this fear stemming from Pat, it’s pretty funny to still see Tandy marginally defending and apologizing for him, even as the man might be off preparing to carrot peel them all to death somewhere.
It’s also fairly satisfying to see Carol having gussied up the warning signs and trauma evidence around their home. In a pinch, bullet holes can be turned into very charming daisies and Carol re-adjusting Tandy’s faux murder threats is so damn on point (“See You All in Hellsinki, Finland,” is my personal favorite).
This very apparent vulnerability being felt by everyone manifests itself in various ways. In Tandy’s case he decides to continually fake scare everyone, testing their levels of readiness in the process, as well as pushing daily self-defense lessons, which actually aren’t the worst idea. Melissa on the other hand seems to have a much more fragile grip on everything at the moment. “The Wild Guess Express” definitely made Todd and his grieving process its focus, but this episode effectively shifts things over to Melissa.
I’m loving this season’s subtle, closed-off portrayal of what she’s going though and it’s making for fascinating material for the character. Basically everything she does this episode results in some great Melissa moments, whether it’s her pride over her spider hole or the practicality of her ax stations. The culmination of her trauma is another great, escalating touch that renders the beach out of bounds indefinitely and is another powerful visual that is only possible on The Last Man on Earth.
While everyone’s lives are the topic of concern in “You’re All Going to Diet,” the show also continues to peel back the layers of Last Man’s latest misfit toy. We’re still early into things but this episode does a good job at unpacking Louis and giving us a more concrete read of who he is and how he fits in amongst everyone else. There were hints of this in the last episode, but Louis’ “approval” of Tandy is put front and center this week. Louis seems to have Tandy’s back more than he doesn’t, which is news that has Tandy pretty ecstatic that there’s a new member of Tandytown.
Surprisingly, this episode on a few occasions had me thinking about one of the all-time best Simpsons episodes, “Homer’s Enemy.” It’s brutal to see Louis gradually getting introduced to Tandy’s buffoon-ism the hard way and watching this innocent person slowly getting turned against him and learning to hate his guts. An absolute sense of dread effectively builds throughout the episode so when scenes like the one where Tandy is showcasing a live taser take place, you can’t help but worry that Tandy’s good intentions are going to cause something to go terribly wrong. Louis learns what it means to get caught in Tandy’s orbit and that sometimes the man can be a black hole.
There are some really enjoyable moments between Tandy and Louis in this episode and I look forward to getting many more of them this year. Tandy’s rendition of “The Mouse and the Lion,” for instance, with his weird fixation on the many unnecessary siblings and characters is another great character moment where he doubles down on nonsense. When Tandy gets to the point where there’s a lion sibling named Mouse, for no other reason than to make his story more complicated, I was losing it. Forte has tapped into this character so effortlessly by now.
In spite of all of this episode’s eccentricities, it works by being able to fall back on a strong core at the center of it all. Tandy’s speech about why Malibu is so important to them all and that it’s the home that they’ve cobbled together for each other is actually moving. This place is where they’ve gone through both good and bad together. It’s easy to fall back on Louis’ logical opinion to get up and move, but Tandy makes some strong points, or at least brings up a healthy reminder of the family they’ve all become. The Last Man on Earth does a good job at building up these themes while still creating an episode of television that’s hard to peg down. By the time the entry has hit the sheer pandemonium that it goes out on (which is considerable), it’s hard to imagine how all of these safety provisions have led to this.
As The Last Man on Earth begins to move into a new chapter, there’s a wonderful gag that closes out the episode where everyone gets into their respectively famous and extravagant vehicles. There’s also an exquisitely cinematic shot of all of these vehicles leaving Malibu as landmines go off on the beach in the distance. It’s encouraging to see Last Man continually wanting to shake things up, and putting the gang on the road for at least a small amount of time while they search for a new home should lead to some very exciting material. We often forgot that literally the whole world is the show’s playground and it looks like we’ll start to see some more of that. This also might mean that the gang is going to be prone to encountering more dangers as well, but let’s focus on the positives here.
Only brain stem shots and daystallions moving forward.