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'The Last Man on Earth' premiere recap: 'Is There Anybody Out There?'

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Patrick McElhenney/Fox

The Last Man on Earth

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
2
run date:
03/01/15
performer:
Will Forte
broadcaster:
Fox
genre:
Comedy

Once upon a time, Phil Miller was the last man on earth — or so he thought: While he was busy stealing valuable belongings from the White House and drinking away his sorrows in a margarita-filled kiddie pool, the other last people on earth were driving around the country searching for fellow survivors. As anyone who watched last season knows, they eventually found each other… and then Phil was booted from Tucson for being, as he would probably call himself, a friggin’ jerk. So now he’s back to square one, cherry-picking cool stuff from landmarks around the country. The only difference? Now Carol’s with him.

After a delightfully ridiculous opening scene that involves the two driving through the empty streets in a stealth bomber that Phil doesn’t actually really know how to operate, the two settle into the White House’s Oval Office. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the President of the United States and the Last Lady — both conducting their very important business from a margarita pool, of course.

Those first few minutes are a welcome return to the early days of Last Man when Phil really believed he was the last man and, as a result, let down all his guards. Every single one of them. He’s not as unapologetically gross this time around, likely thanks to Carol’s presence, but they still play off each other well, making busts of historical figures “make out” and “wake-boarding” through the house with the help of an ATV. The opportunity for these characters to let out their inner child now that there aren’t really any rules to go by is part of what’s made this series such a uniquely sparkling comedy since its beginning, so watching Carol and Phil go all out right from the start of season 2 is both a relief and a joy.

And not only are they having fun, but they’re also having fun together: Carol and Phil didn’t exactly come off as meant-to-be last season, but they seem to have fully accepted each other by this point. Maybe they’re even — dare I say — maturing. They bounce off each others’ weirdness during sex and have relatively healthy conversations about their next steps.

Carol and Phil aren’t completely alone though: His balls are still around, thankfully. They make their first appearance when Phil holds a press conference, where he makes some bold statements. For example: “In short, my position on Syria is… dunno” and “Tucson can suck it.” Phil Miller, the president America needs.

They’re not in the White House for long, because “it doesn’t feel right” to Carol. So Phil — gasp! — does something sweet, and surprises Carol by blindfolding her and driving her to her old apartment in good ol’ Delaware, a.k.a. The First State. (Funny that the last people are in the first state — good job, Last Man!)

A pleased Carol gives Phil a tour of her apartment, which also used to house her two roommates who succumbed to the virus despite their best efforts. And their best efforts were pretty damn good: One’s room is decked out with hand sanitizer and a mosquito net. “He was trying not to get the virus,” Carol tells Phil matter-of-factly. “He got it.”

NEXT: Carol and Phil’s honeymoon period ends abruptly. [pagebreak]

Obviously Carol didn’t, so she initially spent her post-wipeout free time decorating her room in a very Carol way. It’s decked out in crafted-by-Carol mementos of her now-dead friends and family, something that would be sad if her crafts weren’t so… silly. “This looks like absolutely chock-full of sanity,” Phil tries to assure her. He fails.

They end up having a lovely time, but Carol doesn’t want to stay there, either. What she really wants to be around more people, a.k.a. move back to Tucson — somewhere Phil can’t exactly return to. There’s no easy solution to the problem, so they end up fighting and driving away.

We next see the two fighting lovebirds in Oklahoma, a full day’s drive from Delaware (or more). Carol heads to the back to take a nap, and Phil pulls over soon after to get some gas. While he’s having a conversation with his balls about how annoying Carol is, she leaves the RV to do some bedazzling inside the gas station store — and then Phil, assuming Carol’s in the back fast asleep, drives off. Now would be a really, really good time to have cell phones.

But they don’t, and they have to get creative. Carol notices Phil driving off and shots her gun in the air. This might’ve worked if Phil wasn’t blasting M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes,” a song that Carol’s gunshots fit ridiculously perfectly into. It’s a moment that “Paper Planes” was made for.

He doesn’t notice she’s gone until he alerts her that they’re approaching the World’s Largest Plate… and realizes she’s not there anymore. The whole situation is anxiety-inducing: Yeah, we know they’re going to figure it out because this is a TV show and Phil and Carol aren’t just going to be separated forever, but it’s also so stressful. So. Stressful.

While Phil’s mourning Carol, his brother is mourning a worm named Nancy. Remember how last season ended with that huge-gasp-inducing shot of Jason Sudeikis (known here as Mike Miller) floating through space? Well, he’s back this season, and chatting away with his two worms, Terry and Nancy. He has worms; Phil has balls — like brother, like brother.

He tells these two that he’s a “scientist, not a pilot” and that he’d probably die of the virus once he got down to earth anyway. Then he notices Nancy is dead and is forced to send her out to space. This is probably why it’s better to have inanimate objects as friends.

The good thing is, Carol’s not dead. She’s somewhere at a gas station in Oklahoma, probably (hopefully) bedazzling away. After days of driving, Phil pulls over, thinking he’s found the gas station. He hasn’t. Five more days pass, and he’s left racking his brain for places she could be. That’s when he flips through her drawing book and sees her illustration of the Tucson crew. She must be in Tucson, he thinks. So much for never going back there, huh, Phil?

Spoiler: She’s not in Tucson. And neither is anyone else. Their old street is trashed, and his old house was the victim of a massive fire. If this all sounds incredibly depressing, it is — but luckily, Phil’s wearing shaggy, homemade camouflage this whole time so it looks like a giant Muppet is wandering around the house. Muppets instantly make any situation a little less bleak.

The episode’s conclusion, however, goes full-on bleak: The final shots are Mike literally staring out into space, Phil zoning out on one of the outdoor couches, and Carol waiting on the side of the road. It’s dark and it’s sad and it does a wonderful job of reminding the audience how heavy this premise it, something that’s easy to forget between all the margarita pools and talking to volleyballs and bedazzling.

A virus killed everyone they loved, and that sucks. They’re all stuck, whether it’s in space or at a gas station in middle America, and that sucks, too. But the whole show says, look, people move on, they adapt. So yes, this season starts off on an especially gloomy note, but they haven’t stopped adapting. They’re talking to worms and throwing rhinestones on cheap T-shirts and singing along to pop music. No matter how grim the circumstances, people find a way to get through — and these last people on earth (and in space) are about to once again prove that week after week with, if we’re lucky, the same type of humor and heart we saw in this episode. Halle-friggin’-lujah. 

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