Have you ever thought someone you loved was dead only to find out much, much later that they…aren’t? I haven’t, but I’ve thought about it before, and it always inspires the same mix of elation and fear: elation because they’re back; fear because, thanks to the circle of life, they’ll be gone again one day and then you’ll not only lose them again, but have to repeat the painful grieving process all over again. Phil is currently in the elation stage of that process. Sadly, that stage isn’t going to last long.
This episode doesn’t exactly end well, though it does begin with a celebration. “I still can’t believe I’m not sterile,” Phil cheers after finding out that Carol is indeed pregnant. “You didn’t masturbate too much after all!” Carol cheerily responds. It’s all interrupted when Gail busts in and claims that she just saw “a flying record player.” No, wait, it was flying skillets. No, hold on, two hovering griddles. Nope, still not it: They were “floating hair dryers, and they were staring right at me.” In other words, Gail saw a drone.
Melissa responds by asking how much Gail has had to drink that day, an understandable reaction given Gail’s habit of day drinking — or rather, her habit for all-the-time drinking. They all dismiss Gail’s sighting, though that’s kind of condescending given that she might drink too much, but it’s not like Gail’s throwing shrooms into her white wine.
Later on, Mike and Erica get some alone time together to talk about her previous life in Australia. She innocently explains that she was arrested for armed robbery, served time, and then got a job at the U.S. State Department, where she lied about her identity. Meet Amanda Williams, a very American young woman who loves her sorority. When a delighted and shocked Mike asks if anyone else knows about it, Erica ends up giving a solid critique of the show: “They never asked me,” she says. “They just latched onto the Australia thing and stopped right there.” She’s not wrong.
But both the show and Mike are trying to correct that, and that’s good: Erica, as that previous scene proved, has plenty to share. She and Mike end up having a sweet, flirty date at a hibachi grill in the house and continue hitting it off. Things are going well! Maybe Mike can claim the title of babydaddy to her future child — that is, if he survives.
Fast forward to a bit later, and Mike’s coughing as he’s milking the cow. It’s not just a throat-clearing cough: Out comes blood, a.k.a. one of the symptoms of the dreaded virus. Todd — who is pissed at Phil for ditching him — sees it and immediately assumes the worst, but Phil is in denial. It’s just a cold, he reasons, ignoring that a “bloody cough” is not something you can just take a swig of DayQuil to treat.
NEXT: Out come the hazmat suits
The news spreads, and soon everyone but Mike is decked out in hazmat suits. They even have a bubble for Mike to take shelter in so they can live their lives freely around him without worrying about succumbing to whatever he has. It’s sad, and it’s even sadder to watch Phil struggle with the reality that he might be losing his brother. Again.
It’s not all sad, though: Erica and Mike go on a second “date” that goes swimmingly — so swimmingly that it ends with Erica taking off her helmet and kissing her infected beloved through the plastic bubble separating them. Isn’t post-apocalyptic romance sweet? (That’s not sarcasm. It totally is.)
Around the time of the kiss, Erica starts coming around to Phil’s theory that Mike just has a cold. And then Melissa finds the cow — the one Mike was milking when he coughed up the blood the first time — dead. That’s one big strike against Phil’s theory and enough to send the rest of the crowd trying to physically push the still-quarantined Mike out of the house. This is when it gets heavy.
“I thought I had lost him forever,” Phil tells everyone. “What are the chances? The entire world dies? There’s seven of us? And my brother shows up? That is not a coincidence. I said goodbye to him once. I’m not going to do it again. He has a friggin’ cold.” Friggin’ heartbreaking.
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Everyone files out, leaving Phil alone to sing “Falling Slowly” once (get it?!) again with his sick brother. What was once a bit played for jokes is now a sweet, somber moment that only makes Mike’s worsening condition even more of a punch to the gut. Oh, and that’s not even mentioning his mid-song cough, reminding us that, oh yeah, Mike not might be long for this world.
By the time Phil wakes up, Mike is out of the bubble. But there’s a note: “So long, Phil,” it reads. “Didn’t want you to have to say goodbye again…” It seems unlikely that this is really the last we’ll see of Mike, though that doesn’t make this final scene any less crushing. All Phil wanted was to keep his brother around, to be the good sibling he wasn’t when Mike first arrived. Now, that chance is being cut short — too short. And if Mike is indeed gone and does indeed have the virus, that has consequences for the whole gang. Where did the virus come from? What if someone else gets it? And, most importantly, who the hell is Phil going to sing “Falling Slowly” with?