As I said in my previous review, my biggest problem with “The Last Man on Earth” was that the show focuses entirely to much time on sex. The final three episodes of the season started off with the same focus and often fell back into it, but provided an ending that made me hope at least the next season will expand way beyond it.
Episode eleven started with a hard reset of everyone’s views on Phil once they found out that he and Carol had only been married for a few weeks. This of course immediately resulted in two women coming over separately and attempting to seduce Phil, not that seducing was required. But Phil, who is basically the missing bar owner from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” hatched a scheme that ultimately (and unsurprisingly) failed. This best highlights both what the show does right and wrong. The show is at its best when Phil is attempting some wild scheme to get what he wants, even though we the viewer know that he will fail. Unfortunately, like the previous episodes of the season, that scheme revolved entirely around Phil trying to have sex. Still, the show remained watchable because Phil’s outlandish scheme to get what he wants is funny, regardless of what he wants as he winds up stuck on a billboard sun-scorched with no way of getting down.
By the end of the eleventh episode, a new character (Boris Kodjoe), also named Phil Miller, whom I’ll call “New Phil”, was introduced leaving to us, the original Phil to be renamed “Tandy”, whom I’ll refer to as such. The introduction of New Phil could have been a good start point to provide a stronger structure to the show and more depth to all of the characters, and it does, but only a little bit. He asks some of the same questions that I had in my last review, such as why are they living in an arid climate when as the last people on earth they could live anywhere they wanted? He also provides the handy-man skills that none of the rest of the group has and tries to make their lives better through “innovations” like hot showers. At first glance it would appear that he has solved many of the problems the show suffered, but instead as much as he contributes to the show, New Phil perpetuates “The Last Man On Earth’s” obsession with the show revolving around Tandy’s inability to have sex with anyone he wants. New Phil is by all accounts an extremely attractive man, so much so that even Tandy can’t keep his eyes off him. As such, all the women lust after him intensely, and Tandy, who is clearly the villain, views himself as being victimized by New Phil.
After providing the show with ample room to grow, the show again fixates itself on Tandy’s lack of sex life. As the twelfth episode ends with New Phil having sex with Carol while Tandy listens, Tandy decides that he is going to murder New Phil. Of course as we know, as he is the missing 6th member of the Paddy’s Pub Gang from South Philly, he’s going to fail. However, that didn’t make it any less enjoyable to watch how he would fail. In a perhaps karmic turn of events, New Phil drives Tandy into the desert and leaves him with just enough food to get to the next town, which of course Tandy proceeds to consume immediately. Other than Carol this does not appear to be troublesome to any of the other characters in the show. Even if they hate Phil, no one appears to have any qualms with Tandy’s likely death. Even 13 episodes in, the characters are provided with such shallow personalities that as long as New Phil continues to exist, they don’t seem to care if one of the less than ten other people on earth they know of goes to his death, regardless of what Tandy has done.
There is hope though. As the season ends, Tandy, finally showing real depth of character, apologizes to Carol who has come to make sure he hasn’t died. Carol accepts his apology and decides that maybe together they could start a new life somewhere else, even though Tandy makes it clear he thinks Carol is making a big mistake. As they drive off somewhere new together I can only hope that they are the only two returning characters for the second season, especially now that they have been given some actual dimension. I think the show would operate best if for a few episodes we saw them traveling from place to place alone, allowing the characters to develop a strong relationship and organically for us to learn more about them.
Well I say only two returning characters, but it’s in the final moment of the show that we are shown something beautiful, that makes me rethink the title of the show. High above the earth, in a space station is Tandy’s previously mentioned brother. Presumably Tandy, knows that his brother is up there, so Tandy maybe thought he was literally the last man on earth. If Tandy doesn’t know this, it might even be possible that the next season doesn’t focus much on Tandy but instead on his brothers attempts to make it back to earth and find other survivors. Either way, I’m hopeful, although not entirely optimistic, that next season will be stronger than this season and provide it with a more developed story that focuses more on the characters lives in this new world and maybe who they were before whatever caused the apocalypse, and less on sex.