To have a brother is to be in a constant battle of pranking: I grew up with two older brothers who spent many days playfully terrorizing me (or at least they thought it was playful — I didn’t find them stuffing my favorite toys into a Ziploc bag, attaching it to a fishing line, and throwing it into a lake too fun at the time), so Phil and Mike’s seemingly endless prank war is nothing new to me. In fact, I wish Last Man had been on earlier in my life so I could steal some to use on my own siblings.
Their war kicks off after Mike shaves all the hair off one side of Phil’s body. “You look like two different serial killers,” Erica observes. “Now that I’m used to it, it doesn’t look half-bad!” Carol jokes. Basically, this “style” is great fodder for a bunch of A+ lines. No one brings up what he most resembles, though: You know in Breaking Bad when Gus Fring walks out of the hospital room looking completely fine as he adjusts his tie? And then the camera pans over to the other side of his face and we find out that he’s… well, not completely fine? Phil is Gus Fring. Actually, he might be worse than Gus Fring, because the whole half-hairy, half-bald thing is surprisingly disturbing.
Anyway, Phil and Mike play (or attempt to play) a ton of pranks in this episode, so I’m just going to go ahead and rank them from least to most nasty:
5. Mike rigs a bucket of flour so that it drops on Phil as he walks into his house. Always good to see some good ol’ antiquing on TV, but it’s pretty run-of-the-mill as far as pranks go.
4. Phil throws a bunch of poison ivy in Mike’s sleeping bag. It’s a classic joke that doesn’t end up working out because Mike ditches the sleeping bag in favor of a real bed down the street. Nice try, Tands.
3. Mike leaves a gift box out for Phil with a note that says not to open until Christmas. Because it’s impossible to resist, Phil opens the box anyway with the help of a rake. Inside, he finds wads of cash — how silly! They don’t even need cash in this brave new world! Everything would be fine, but then Phil stupidly touches the money, triggering a contraption that explodes blue dye in his face. If you’ve ever wanted to know what Will Forte would look like as a Na’vi reject, here’s your answer.
2. Mike somehow transports Phil and his bed to a cliff that Phil, of course, rolls off of as soon as he wakes. Luckily, Mike’s a thoughtful prankster: He placed a landing mat beneath the cliff so his brother wouldn’t die.
1. Phil pretends he found a letter to Mike from their late parents, and “hides” it in a place Mike can easily track down. Mike does find the letter, which includes heartfelt sentiments like, “Just know how proud my father and I were to call you our son.” The prank’s on us, though: Turns out that Phil wrote this note.
Now, that last one is pretty messed up. Fortunately, it leads to a genuine moment between the two brothers: Phil brings Mike a stack of real-life letters from their mom and dad, and apologizes for all that he’s done. “You were all Mom and Dad talked about,” Phil says. “I was always jealous of that.” Mike responds, “You know they were proud of you too,” but it seems like he gets what Phil meant anyway. These aren’t feelings that can go away in just a few minutes, but it’s still a positive step in their relationship — and hopefully the end of Mike making Phil look like a deranged Smurf.
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In other relationship news, Todd is trying to figure out how to juggle two girlfriends. At first, he does this by lying to Gail about where he’s going. She tells him the only way it’s going to work is if they keep things honest, so he runs with that advice and goes into detail about how exactly his hook-up sessions with Melissa go down. He does the same thing to Melissa (but about Gail, duh), and she starts to worry that this whole sharing him thing isn’t going to work out. Later, he attempts to prove them wrong by delivering an impassioned speech about how he’s completely capable of being there for everyone who needs him — Phil included, who he shaved half his head for in solidarity. “That was hot,” Melissa notes after he leaves the room. And being hot with a look like that — “It looks like the floor of a barbershop took a dump on half your face,” Gail says — is quite the feat.