The Last Man on Earth recap: Valhalla
Tandy mourns Phil while Melissa mourns her relationship with Todd
The funniest moment in this Last Man on Earth comes during its darkest one: The episode picks up at Phil’s funeral, where Todd is talk-singing Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” as Gail plays the accordion with a sullen look on her face. I get knocked down, and I get up again, Todd intones, his hands stuffed in his pockets. It could be heartbreaking; instead, it’s hilarious. More funerals could use an unintentional pick-me-up like this.
The service only gets more ridiculous as it goes on, like when Tandy reveals that he’s holding a Viking funeral for their fallen friend — despite Erica’s insistence that he wouldn’t have wanted it. “No, this isn’t what he would have wanted,” Tandy responds. “But this is what he deserved.” To Erica, that’s disrespectful. Hell, to anyone, that comes off as disrespectful. He has a point here though: Everyone always goes on about what the dead would have wanted, but… they’re dead. As they say, a funeral is really for the living, anyway.
And boy, is this one for the living — namely, the people watching from the comfort of their living rooms. Tandy provides yet another brief musical number as he launches Phil’s casket into the water, singing an updated version of Pat Benatar’s “We Belong” (“He belongs to the sea, he belongs to the ocean”) as the rest of the crew looks on disapprovingly. If anyone gets knocked down and gets back up again, it’s Tandy.
Compared to everyone else though, Tandy has probably the smallest connection to Phil, if you can even call what they had a connection. But he takes on the role of Chief Griever anyway, repeatedly calling Phil his brother. Carol points out that Tandy keeps calling him his brother because he never got a chance to say goodbye to his real brother, so he’s projecting it onto Phil. Little does he know he’ll get a chance to say not goodbye but hello to that very brother quite soon (fingers crossed — Mike doesn’t show up in this episode, so who knows what kind of obstacles he’s encountered on his journey so far).
While Tandy’s busy mourning, Melissa’s struggling hard after Todd rejected her marriage proposal in the midseason finale. “Struggling hard” for her means using her teeth to rip the rhinestones off the boots Carol gifted her and inviting Todd to watch TV with her. That last part isn’t so bad, except for the fact that he’s still sleeping with Gail and really has no apparent interest in getting back with Melissa. But he’s nice — too nice — so he says “yes” anyway, and the two end up kissing. Melissa gets her hopes up and later giddily tells Carol she thinks they’ll get back together. Carol, who knows he’s hooking up with Gail, quickly exits the conversation: “I have diarrhea,” she spits out. “Bye!” A classic excuse.
NEXT: The funeral festivities continue
Following the funeral, Tandy debuts yet another death-themed track, this one a self-written song titled “The Story of Us” that he awkwardly croons in their living room as everyone once again uncomfortably watches. Then he decides to put all his energy into being a father to Erica’s soon-to-be child in place of Phil, a decision she’s not keen on — and that Phil wasn’t keen on, either. “The second to last thing that Phil said to me before he died was, ‘Don’t let Tandy raise our baby,'” she shares. Tandy, understandably, does not take this well. Or rationally.
He reacts by planting drugs, X-rated magazines, a journal full of slam poetry, and underwear covered in skid marks in Phil’s room and showing the nasty treasures to Erica in an attempt to spoil her baby daddy’s reputation. It doesn’t work, both because Erica’s not an idiot and because she was just in Phil’s room right before Tandy planted all this false evidence. This doesn’t quite convince her to dub Tandy her kid’s godfather.
Later, Erica finds Tandy sobbing to Phil’s washed-up casket and tries to give him a gentle talk about letting go. They end their moment of bonding by crafting Phil a new memorial on the beach before deciding to join the others. “Goodbye, brother,” Tandy says. Erica offers a disapproving “Tandy” — and then once again when he follows with “Goodbye, friend.” Finally, he wishes Phil — just Phil — goodbye… and then sneaks in one last “Goodbye, brother” once Erica’s a bit ahead of him. Tandy will always do what Tandy wants.
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On the surface, Tandy’s insistence despite all the evidence to the contrary that Phil was like a brother to him is absurd and comical. That moment when he’s crying to the casket, though, points to something deeper: Carol was right when she noticed that he just misses his real brother and is projecting. Here on a populated Earth, we lose people all the time, but we get to mourn them together. Tandy not only didn’t get to say goodbye to Mike, but he had to grieve completely and totally on his own. That’s hard. I don’t blame him for overreacting to Phil’s death — though I do agree that maybe Phil wasn’t completely out of line when he ordered Erica to keep their baby far, far away from Tandy. Sure, he can take great care of his gang of balls, but a living, breathing, fragile human? That’s a different story.