The last, oh, 30 seconds of this season finale drops a bomb so big that it’s difficult to focus on retelling what happens during the other 29 minutes and 30 seconds of the episode. As Phil—ahem, Tandy—would say, it’s friggin’ huge. But, alas, there’s a lot more to the surprisingly funny and sometimes sweet episode than just a last-minute surprise.
Last week’s episode ended with Tandy and Todd deciding to kill Phil, and they’re still planning on that this week—that is, until Tandy messes up and tells Todd his plan: They’ll drive Phil to the desert and leave him out there. It sounds fine until Todd realizes that Tandy once drove him to the desert. Tandy, smooth as ever.
Todd’s now furious with Tandy, so he’s all alone in his quest to destroy Phil. So his next stop is Carol. He presents an empty condom wrapper to her, and she confirms that she and Phil did have sex. Tandy, like the rest of us, is wondering why Carol had sex with Phil sans ring but she insisted on marriage before getting it on with him. “It’s called casual sex, Tandy. Geez,” she explains. “Haven’t you ever wanted to have sex just for fun?”
This is funny, because, duh, all Tandy wants is to have sex for fun, As he replies, “That’s my whole thing!” But it also makes very little sense. She says that she had to marry Tandy before they got in bed because they were setting out to have babies, whereas she’s just doing it for pleasure with Phil. Maybe this is just a comment on how the dreaminess of Phil can make even the strictest of personal boundaries disappear?
After this uncomfortable conversation, Tandy goes home to find Phil packing up his belongings. Turns out he heard Tandy talk s— about him and is now getting his own place. Why he didn’t just get his own place in the first place, I don’t know. But this provides an opportunity for the two to confront each other—and for Phil to point out that he thinks this is all about Carol. Tandy insists it’s not. Tandy is a bad liar.
He goes to the bar to talk it over with his balls, and realizes that, oh yeah, he wants Carol back. So he brings a bouquet of flowers and a sack (yes, a sack) full of jewelry to her house, but she’s unimpressed. In an attempt to save the situation, Tandy says he also wrote her a song. “It’s called ‘Carol,'” he says, “So that’s proof.” Sadly though, Phil comes to the door and interrupts before Tandy has a chance to perform the probably not-yet-written song.
Later on, Phil announces that he’s been working on installing solar panels and has enough power so far to light a lamp. He unveils this development by the fire, and everyone is overwhelmed with excitement—everyone except Tandy, who feigns enthusiasm before knocking over the lamp and breaking it. Tandy’s unwavering immaturity has been getting a bit grating as the season’s worn on, but this gag works because of how childish it is.
And just as a child will get time-out for doing something naughty, Tandy gets his own punishment: Phil orders that Tandy leave Tucson. Tandy doesn’t want to leave though, so he locks himself in a room before anyone can get to him. What about food, Tandy!? What about water!?
After three days in the dark room, he’s getting desperate. He’s eating chunks of toilet paper and pretending it’s a corn dog; he’s noshing on toothpaste. It’s sad. Real sad. But it’s also a return to the first episode, when it was just Tandy and a house full of junk. In that way, it’s refreshing to see him return to his original state. Tandy’s gotten so unlikable over the show’s course that it’s hard to feel sympathy for him—and that’s okay, but it’s also difficult to stay attached to a character who you don’t feel any sympathy for. Watching him shunned from the rest of the humans and subsisting on Charmin makes staying attached just a bit easier.
Carol, who’s worried about Tandy, eventually convinces him to come down to the fire. They’re ready to make a truce. After some resistance, he obliges and arrives outside to find everyone, sans Phil, serenading him with a slightly creepy, slightly sentimental rendition of John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” Slightly creepy because they’re all—even Melissa!—smiling at him as they sing. Slightly sentimental because of how welcoming they seem.
NEXT: Tandy’s in trouble [pagebreak]
This doesn’t last long though, because Phil slams Tandy to the ground and puts him in the bed of a pick-up truck. Tandy’s getting the, well, Tandy treatment: Phil drives him out to the desert and drops him off with only two days’ worth of food and water.
Tandy eats all the food within 20 minutes, and is left napping (or perhaps giving up) on the ground until Carol shows up with more supplies. She says goodbye and it seems like she’s about to leave, but then she asks if he really wrote her a song. And, in the biggest twist of all, he does have a song for her! Always full of surprises, that Tandy.
Still on the ground, he sings her a soft and sweet ditty that ends with, “Screw the moon, what good’s the moon when Care Bear’s not here with me.” His performance is so—and it feels weird to use this word when describing something associated with Tandy—raw that I kept thinking, “This is a dream. This is a hallucination. Carol didn’t really come back for him.”
Apparently it’s real, though. The song is enough to convince Carol to stay with Tandy, and they get in her car so they can drive off to somewhere new. She does this even after Tandy admits he thinks she’s making a big mistake. The heart wants what the heart wants, I guess.
They decide to start anew, so they pretend they’ve never met each other. Carol says she’s a Scorpio and an only child; Tandy (who we can probably call Phil again now, but I like “Tandy” too much to give up that easy) is a Gemini and has one brother. We already knew that Tandy had a sibling, though—in one of the first episodes, he looked at a family photograph that included Jason Sudeikis as his brother.
The two drive off into the sunset, and it seems like the show is going to end like that—Phil and Carol starting over, history repeating itself. But Last Man on Earth loves its twists, and the finale is no exception: The camera rises above earth and into space until it reaches the inside of a space station…holding Phil’s brother. Phil’s brother is alive and in a space station high above Earth. What!?
I was expecting his brother to make an appearance at some point, simply because it would be strange for them to cast Jason Sudeikis in that role and only feature him in a photo. But when I imagined the other Miller appearing in the show, I figured it’d be in the form of a flashback. So to see him alive and seemingly well (except for the whole stranded-in-space thing) was enough to inspire multiple gasps.
Right before this reveal, Tandy told Carol about his brother. I tried to notice if he said “had” or “has,” but it was difficult to tell—whatever the wording was might indicate if Tandy knows if his brother is alive though.
If he does know, that adds an intriguing dimension to his story. Is he at any point going to try to communicate with him? Has he tried already? Is he going to figure out how to be an astronaut to go rescue him? Were they estranged before he went to space? But if he doesn’t know, that’s just as intriguing: How will he find out? Will he ever find out? Is this actually an anthology series that will be set in space next season and called The Last Man in the Space Station? (Warning: Don’t bet on that.)
The Last Man On Earth began as a fascinating comedy about loneliness and adapting, but it didn’t always keep up with its own standards as it went on. At points, it was extremely disappointing: Tandy’s flaws and actions became so repetitive that what was originally a compellingly strange concept turned into an often boring, fairly typical comedy. But this ending shows promise for next season. If Last Man knows how to do anything, it’s twists—and this one, along with all the possibilities it carries along with it, shows that it’s willing to get weird and unpredictable.
Between Carol and Tandy starting over and the brother revelation, next season is looking promising. And, hey, maybe we’ll even get to see how Other Miller would craft a margarita pool in space. I can dream, right?