The Last Man on Earth recap: Dead Man Walking
Talk about an awkward reunion: Carol surprised the Tucson crew at the conclusion of last week’s episode by running up and screaming “Boo,” an entrance that literally scared Will Ferrell’s Gordon to death, and now she’s left attending the funeral of a man she didn’t know (and whose death she is kind of responsible for). It’s a bad day to be Carol. And Gordon.
Thanks to her guilt, she feels the need to speak at his wake. Problem is, she can’t even remember his name and goes off on a tangent about how she used to live next to a guy named Dordon. Funerals are typically places where friends and family of the deceased gather to say kind words and slip in some humorous memories to ease the pain a bit. Carol, though, doesn’t even have to try to force a funny anecdote. Her uncomfortable fumbling is enough to turn the funeral into a giant joke.
Todd doesn’t help make the affair more somber when he bursts into a totally genuine, teary rendition of Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” for a performance that, in theory, should be heartbreaking but, instead, is hilariously ridiculous. The award for Most Amusing Onscreen Funeral goes to: Last Man.
The remembrance continues when the group heads to Gordon’s beachfront home, a 13-bathroom mansion where they’ve all been living since they met him. Gail — who was hooking up with Gordon — lists a bunch of bad things about Gordon, such as his racially insensitive and sexist tendencies and his body odor, before noting that all the bad stuff melts away when someone dies. Oh, so constantly smelling like garbage is a good memory?
Gail’s sentiment inspires Carol to tell them Tandy is dead in hopes that they’ll start recalling all their happy times with him just in time for Tandy to magically come back from the dead. This is a bad idea, which Carol is seemingly in denial of: She returns to the RV to tell Tandy the news and insists that “people always remember the dead fondly.” Her main example? Michael Jackson. Needless to say, Tandy isn’t exactly sold that his death will have the effect Carol hopes it will.
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Although this entire episode screams, “TERRIBLE IDEA,” Carol is a delight in her quest to introduce Tandy back to the group. She is so absurdly optimistic — and, admittedly, incredibly naive — that it’s hard not to root for her and her crazy plan no matter how irrational it is. Plus, it’s good to see someone believe in Tandy despite everything he’s done. In the wiped-out world of Last Man, Carol is the cheerful, crafty representation of forgiveness.
And that crafty side takes center stage when she tells Todd and Melissa the heroic story of Tandy’s “death” by taking them through a journey of drawings. According to her story, she was doing a handstand on the Grand Canyon when she slipped, which is when Tandy sprung into action and caught her before falling off the edge himself and cratering to his death. Melissa looks skeptical despite Carol’s attempt to really sell it — she even does an impression of Tandy’s screams of “No regrets!” echoing as he fell — and Todd starts crying, but because he’s thinking of Gordon.
Now’s a good point to rewind to when Gail was listing all of Gordon’s many negative qualities. It seemed like everyone was in agreement that Gordon was a pretty big asshole, yet they’re all mourning him as they would if, say, a likable guy like Todd died. This would be understandable if they didn’t have such an intense hate for Tandy: So they can threaten him with death, but Gordon — another jerk — is a (dead) knight in shining armor? Seems unfair, guys.
NEXT: Phil comes back from the dead
That part doesn’t make a ton of sense, but that also might be on purpose, a way to show how irrational this group can be. And maybe Gordon wasn’t as huge a jerk as Tandy. Either way, Gail is sad and mourning her loss by carving Gordon’s name out in the sand as a way of spiritual healing. Carol sees her doing this and immediately gets another great idea (I guess Gail is the catalyst for all of Carol’s epiphanies?): She’ll do the same thing, except for Tandy. Genius! (Just kidding!)
Somehow she acquires an elaborate all-black outfit — veil included — and begins her dramatic show before getting interrupted by Phil, who tells her he broke up with Erica and wants to be with her forever. He concludes his declaration of love by lifting up her veil and planting a kiss on her in a moment that looks straight out of a goth wedding fantasy. Only thing? Carol’s not into it (or if she is, she’s doing a good job of hiding it). She yanks the veil back over her face, claims she forgot sunscreen, and runs back to the RV to tell Tandy that it’s time for him to reveal himself as alive.
Carol decides to share the news in the middle of Gail’s CPR session, and, unsurprisingly, everyone’s pissed. Carol promised Tandy that if this didn’t work, they would go back to Tucson and never speak of the crew again, so she’s heartbroken that they’re actually going to have to do that. Tandy’s heartbroken, too: He overheard everyone recounting all the things they didn’t like about him and sobs through the pain, all while wearing a tuxedo underneath his Muppet disguise.
While the crew certainly isn’t wrong to be mad at Tandy, it’s still hard to see him face all the mistakes he’s made and all the hate they feel for him now. Watching him hysterically cry is like seeing a little kid break down after getting bullied in elementary school, in a way. But unlike a little kid in elementary school, he grabs a gun and heads to the house in hopes that pointing a pistol at their faces will get them to listen to his apology. This is Bad Idea No. 65,642 — especially because right when he busts in, they were just getting ready to give him a second chance after Carol told them how selfless he’s been as of late.
Fortunately, Phil has no intentions of shooting anyone (this does not make pointing a gun at people any more acceptable, but it does make the scene a little less scary). He just uses it as a tool to keep them in one place as he apologizes and rattles off compliments to each of them in an attempt to prove that he’s a new Tandy. It’s actually sort of sweet at some points, like when he tells Todd what a good friend he is, until you remember that, oh yeah, he has a gun in his hand and he’s kind of acting like a soulless psycho.
Phil ends his erratic monologue by instructing anyone who has something to say to raise their hands first. “They were about to give you a second chance, you dumb donkey,” Carol says with an Emmy-worthy annoyed tone. Tandy’s a dumb donkey, indeed.
And so the group locks him up. Part of the joy of Last Man on Earth is watching how the earth’s last few inhabitants abide — and don’t abide — by social norms in a world essentially without a society, and this episode was a prime example of how things do and don’t differ in this post-apocalypse life: They still formally remembered the dead with a service, and they still punished a potential shooter by imprisoning him. It’s just now things are a bit more personal. There’s no 911 to call, no funeral home to set up arrangements. Everyone is, quite literally, on their own, a fact that is both daunting and, lucky for us viewers, pretty damn entertaining.