WARNING: This story contains plot details from Sunday’s season finale of The Last Man on Earth.
In the end, Pamela found the group. And not a moment too late.
Kristen Wiig’s pun-loving, dog-championing socialite, who devolved into a trashbag-clad, imbalanced widow, was last (and first) seen in the spring premiere venturing out of her bunker in search of the fellow survivors she spotted via her drone. In the final seconds of The Last Man on Earth‘s season 3 finale, she finally resurfaced, making a life-saving (and life-ending) entrance.
As the country’s nuclear plants started to melt down, our group of survivors — who now include the newly born Dawn, to whom Erica (Cleopatra Coleman) just gave birth, thanks to Gail (Mary Steenburgen) redeeming herself in a makeshift ER — decided that their best chance for survival was to embark on a new life at sea. At a marina back in L.A., Tandy (Will Forte) was delivering a protracted speech to the impatient group, when, against billion-to-one odds, a hard-to-kill Hazmat-suited, shotgun-wielding enemy reappeared, that being lethal jean-art enthusiast and government conspiracy whack job Pat (Mark Boone Junior). He was about to send Tandy & co. into the afterlife when a gun blast went off, filling Pat’s mask with blood and dropping him to the ground, dead. There, standing behind where he was no longer standing, stood Pamela, brandishing a gun and politely introducing herself to her fellow survivors: “Hi. I’m Pamela.” End of season.
What happens next? Is Pamela part of the group as they move forward (and into the ocean)? Is nuclear armageddon upon us? When the going gets tough, what do the tough do and where do they go? And perhaps most importantly, will there be another season of this crafty, unconventional Fox comedy that has been struggling in the ratings? Let’s cue up those sounds of laughter, remain cume as a calmcumber, and call up Last Man creator/star/executive producer Will Forte with the hopes of coaxing and cajoling some answers out of him.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: There’s so much to talk about. Where do we start? How about with this: How did you get the idea for a prolapsed anus joke?
WILL FORTE: Well, you know me — I have a very prim sense of humor. That came from the coarser elements of the writers’ room. I mean, everyone always likes to joke about a prolapsed anus. The Prolapsed Anus Association — they’re the only people who aren’t fans of it because they think it’s a very serious thing. Which it is. It is. We have heard from their lawyers, but I think it’s just a warning of a lawsuit.
Do you remember any other alts or runners-up to that joke?
No way. [Laughs.] That was like, “Oh, that’s the one!” I think writers’ rooms across the country would agree: There is no need for an alt for prolapsed anus.
We finally saw Pamela again, and this time she met/saved the group. Her standalone episode was a fantastic spring premiere, and you’ve said that you wound up filming that episode out of order. Can you explain why you did have to wait so long to bring her back?
We didn’t get the idea to do that episode that started the second part of the season — the introduction of her character — until after several of the episodes from the second half of the season were already shot, and most of the episodes were already written. So once we came up with that idea, we thought, “Oh, that would be a good one to start the second part of the season with.” We were already so far down the line of production with the other ones that we had to shoot that episode last, and scramble to get it ready to air first. We would never want to normally wait so long in between that first episode and then showing her appearing with the group, but it was the only thing we could do, because there was no other way to get her in quicker.
What can we expect from Pamela now that she’s made contact? How much of a role will she play moving forward?
Honestly, I don’t know. What I do know is if we are lucky to get a season 4, it will come back in real time. I mean, it might not be when she’s stepping through the door after blowing Pat’s brains out, but it might be 10 minutes later. I really want to see this introduction to the group and how everybody says hi after something so intense has just happened.
We got to know Pamela a little bit in the spring premiere. She’s maybe not the most stable person. What will be the dynamic that she introduces into the group?
I think she would fit pretty nicely with our delightful group of weirdos, and we have some fun ideas for how she would interact with the group. It makes me very excited. It was so fun getting to do stuff with Jason [Sudeikis, who played Tandy’s brother, Mike] when he came for that long arc. And I get really excited about the thought of getting to do stuff like that with Kristen, because we’ve just known each other for so long. It’s really fun to get that opportunity to play around like that. She’s like family.
Whose jokes will clunk harder, Pamela’s or Tandy’s?
They’re both going to clunk pretty hard. It’s going to be like the friggin’ auto cemeteries that have the big magnets that pick up the cars and then drop them. It’s going to be that level of clunks.
Fair to say that Kristen could play a significant role in season 4?
We will take whatever we can. She’s the busiest person in the world. Who knows? It could just be her showing up and saying, “I’m so sorry. I just wanted to kill Pat and now I gotta go.” I have no idea. I’m so delighted that we even got to have her be a part of this show, but my hope would be to keep her around for awhile so we could have some fun. And we have definite ideas that could keep her there for a little bit. But I do know she’s one of the most talented people in the world and very sought after. We’re lucky to get whatever we get with her.
The nuclear power station meltdown is a nicely bleak turn for a show about people who survived a deadly virus. How long have you been planning that?
When we first started thinking about this show, one of the first things we were supposed to do was to look at these books about what would happen in this scenario. I had seen a show about what would happen if humans disappeared from the Earth, maybe seven or eight years before we did the show, and instead of reading a book and refreshing my memory [laughs], I just went off of what I kind of remembered from that show. And somebody else read some book and told us a couple of things that would happen. This is one of the things that would eventually happen — these nuclear sites would start melting down — so we always knew that this was something that we could get to; it was just figuring out when and what was the best scenario. From season 1, we didn’t go, “Season 3 will end like this,” because we never know if we’re going to get another season, but it just felt like the time was about right…. This just felt like an interesting thing to get us on the move. It’s definitely something that we’ve known, and during the course of this season, early on, we said, “Oh, this would be an interesting time to introduce that element.”
It ups the stakes. How big of a factor will that be moving forward in season 4, as there are so many plants scattered throughout the country? And will part of next season be set at sea?
From a practical standpoint, I don’t know how much we could do at sea. Because we want it to be realistic, and just production-wise, it’s really hard without actually being on the sea to make it look real, so we probably won’t spend a tremendous time out [there]. But I do like the idea of being on the sea. It’s always really interesting, and that type of environment is very cinematic if you do it the right way. But the financial realities usually make us get to land pretty quick. Season 4 — if we were to be lucky enough get it — is not going to be constantly running away from nuclear sites. In our research, we found some areas that are nuclear-free zones that we could go to, and we’ll probably just find the most interesting environment that we could realistically portray from Chatsworth, California. [Laughs.] Chatsworth is surprisingly malleable.
NEXT PAGE: Forte on the chances that the show will be picked up for a fourth season
After a breech scare, Erica gave birth to a healthy baby. Is Dawn immune to the virus or is she in danger?
Well, that is the question. I will say it would be very tough to kill a newborn baby so I will assume that she is either immune or.. yeah. [Laughs.] I’m a sick person, but I’m not that sick.
This episode also saw the return of Phil 2 — sort of. Tandy’s impersonation of Phil (Boris Kodjoe) was dangerously close to offensive, but the show gets away with it by having other members of the group, even Jasper (Keith L. Williams), call him out on it. How much discussion was there about how to thread that very small, very delicate needle?
I tell you — all the time, I would go, “Is this really okay to do this?” And everyone’s like, “Yeah, yeah, it’s really funny!” And I’m like, “Are you sure?” So, I don’t know… Yeah. I hear you on that. … I don’t do a very good Phil accent. I try.
You have some fun with the time jump in the second-to-last episode. Tandy said it was the most eventful six months, but he didn’t reveal what those events were, given that all parties were there and know what happened. Can you give us some highlights that we missed?
There’s a reason we did the time jump. It’s so we didn’t have to answer these questions. [Laughs.] I loved that basically by saying that, “And we were all there anyway!,” that was our sly little wink. Not that we didn’t know what would happen, but the medication that we found at Melissa’s — or rather, stumbled onto and then discovered what it was later — presumably that started working…
I don’t know that we needed to see every step of that healing process. We thought it’d be fun to jump forward and see Jasper talking. I know we had an opportunity to see the first words, but presumably with that, he becomes more comfortable with the group, and we might dive into that a little bit more with what happened with him. That would be potentially something we could do in season 4. But it seemed like there were all these storylines and it felt like, “Okay, I think it’s time to get closer to get to this birth.” It seemed like the right thing to do, and we were really banging our heads against the wall trying to figure out the next step in those stories, a way to tell them in interesting ways. We thought that it might be more fun to jump forward. I really enjoyed how that cold open turned out — the head scratching moments of like, “Wait a second. What? He’s talking??? Wait! They’re kissing???”
Speaking of that, it was hinted that Gail and Erica had a romantic relationship before they met Tandy and didn’t know that there were any men left on the planet. That relationship seems to be on again. But the finale didn’t explore that; the story focuses on Erica giving birth. How serious is this romance? And will the show address what this new unconventional family might look like next season?
These guys have been friends now for several years, and we all work together such long hours that we’ve grown really close, so I know they get really uncomfortable [laughs] having to kiss each other over and over again. It’s so funny. Obviously because of what happens over the the last couple episodes, Erica’s birth and the nuclear meltdowns, you don’t get a chance to really do anything but see people in this perilous situation, so I think that if we were to get a season 4, we would be able to track that relationship a little bit more. But we wanted to kind of lace it in there and not make any of that stuff too overt, so we could address it later.
As you’ve mentioned, the show is on the bubble for renewal. On a scale of “Boom! Still got it!” to “Oh farts!” where would you put the show’s chances of securing a renewal?
A couple weeks ago, I would have said we were right in the middle, maybe even closer to “Oh farts!” but I’m feeling more hopeful. I had a nice meeting with Dana and Gary [Walden and Newman, the CEOs of Fox Television Group], and we really talked out the things that I thought we could improve and the things that we felt like we were headed in the right direction, and we all got on the same page. We’ll see what happens. So much goes into the decision process, and I understand that it’s not simple. So I’m so thankful that we have gotten to be on the air but we’ll see. I’m actually a little more hopeful than I was but until you get that call saying you’re coming back, you never know.
In an ideal world, how many seasons of the show would you want to do? And do you have an end game now?
I don’t have an end game. Sometimes we think about that stuff, but then you just get so sucked into the fact that you have so much immediate stuff to deal with on your plate. I love this group of people…. Everyone should be so lucky as to get to work with a group of people like this, so I’ll take as many as we can get. But I also am just appreciative of even doing three [seasons]. I went into this thinking, “Oh, we’ll get one season and we’ll probably be done.” So I am appreciative of what we have gotten, and if we get any more, I’ll be another level of appreciative on top of that. It’s like a staircase of appreciation.