Mike gets a not-so-happy homecoming
Credit: Kevin Estrada/Fox

The second half of season 2 begins as the entire series did: with one man entirely alone in a world ravaged by a virus, trying to figure out what to do next. This time, though, that man is Mike.

Most astronauts probably look forward to returning to Earth. They look forward to seeing their friends and family, to sleeping in their warm bed, to eating a home-cooked meal (or a combo from McDonald’s, depending on what you missed most during your time in space). Mike does not have any of that to look forward to. He arrives home by crashing into a cruise ship and then aimlessly floats around the ocean, sure that death is once again imminent. Happy homecoming?

During one of Mike’s darker moments, he hallucinates a younger version of his brother, Phil, played by Room star Jacob Tremblay. Little Phil is, unsurprisingly, a near carbon copy of Adult Phil: He uses “friggin'” liberally, drinks Kool-Aid out of the kiddie pool he’s lounging in, and at one point utters “shut your butt.” He also spews multiple insults at Mike, a tactic that somehow works. His big brother gets moving again and eventually comes across a sailboat. It’s still not land, but it’s something.

Mike boards the boat and celebrates the discovery by inhaling probably stale saltines and putting on a fashion show for Phil the worm, who loves high fashion — if you consider “high fashion” a Margaritaville T-shirt and tropical-themed swim trunks. (I’m from Florida, so I do.)

Mike’s celebration doesn’t last long, though, because it turns out the boat’s old inhabitant is also the current inhabitant. He walks in on Mike and proceeds to point a gun at his face before he realizes Mike doesn’t have the virus. He drops the gun, introduces himself as Pat Brown, and then invites his new mate up to the deck to drink some beers. From this interaction alone, it seems like they could have a lovely friendship. Maybe they’ll return to shore and have a wacky road trip together! This fantasy ends rather quickly once it becomes clear that Pat is ridiculously paranoid about the virus getting to him.

His paranoia might be absurd, but it’s also justified. If you saw everyone else on the planet succumb to an apparently incurable virus, you’d probably be pretty scared, too. And if you spent a few years completely alone after said virus kills everyone you know and love, you’d probably be a tad mentally unstable. Just a tad.

Despite Pat’s hesitance to bring Mike to land, he eventually agrees to, as long as they both wear hazmat suits. Once they reach shore, Mike — who hasn’t seen land in three years — has a reaction akin to when Sandra Bullock returns from her space trauma in Gravity: He feels the sand through his gloves and wears an expression of pure joy…until he accidentally picks up a used condom. Welcome to Miami, Mike — sadly, it’s not exactly the one Will Smith rapped about.

NEXT: Mike finds one of Phil’s billboards

After Mike’s reunion with the beach, the two drive around town in an ice cream truck. During the ride, Mike spots one of his brother’s “Alive in Tucson” billboards. He doesn’t know that it’s Phil, but his family is from there, so the sign gives him hope that at least one of the Millers is still there. Pat is less enthused: Mike exits the truck to yell at the sign, and Pat once again ends his celebration, this time by knocking him out with a wrench.

Although hitting someone with a heavy tool is never the solution to anything, Pat’s reaction is once again understandable, even if it’s not right. He was probably overjoyed to have a buddy again, and now this buddy wants to go find other buddies — and possibly get exposed to the virus in the meantime. Now, Pat has to choose between risking his life but with a companion or remaining in isolation. At this point, it seems like he might as well choose the former. He doesn’t.

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Instead, he takes the passed-out Mike back to shore, where the two get in a tussle that ends with Mike’s protective suit ripping. Pat’s choice is made for him: He can’t bunk up with a guy whose skin touched the possibly virus-infected Earth. And he’s heartbreakingly bummed about that, erupting in loud sobs as soon as he realizes what’s happened.

He’s not too sad to take Mike to a lot of dead bodies, though. Pat zips a still-living Mike up in a body bag and writes “R.I.P. Spaceman. Cause of death: the government” on its front. Mike wakes up in the makeshift graveyard, spots a Miami-Dade fire truck, and takes off, alone. Once again, he’s the last man on Earth.

The last time we saw Last Man, Phil — not Tandy — was seemingly dead on the operating table. The show took a risk by choosing to open with Mike’s return home instead of looking, however briefly, at how the Tucson crew is dealing with their loss — a risk that paid off: Thanks to Jason Sudeikis’ charming performance and the episode’s slightly suspenseful plot, I didn’t even think about how Tucson was doing until after the episode finished, when I thought, “Oh, hey, what’s Tandy up to?”

We’ll get to find out soon, anyway. Because Phil did such a thorough job vandalizing the nation’s billboards, Mike now has a destination. If his reunion with sand was emotional, just imagine what his reunion with his brother — someone he’s assumed was dead for years — will be like. Hopefully this time no used condoms will be involved.

Episode Recaps

The Last Man on Earth
Will Forte stars as Phil Miller, the last man on Earth, who is just trying to get by in Tucson, Arizona.
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