Synopsis of 1×3: Phil and Carol’s marriage is threatened by Phil’s lackadaisical attitude before it even begins.
The Last Man On Earth‘s showing this week definitely wasn’t as strong as its pilot. That’s given that the show’s first episode was remarkably good for a comedy pilot, most of which notoriously struggle to put the pieces in place for upcoming weekly antics while also maintaining a solid level of comedy. But at this point, the originality of the show’s premise has started to wear off and yet it’s still setting up for the show’s premise and characters, meaning “Raisin Balls and Wedding Bells” didn’t remain as engaging as its predecessor. And at the same time, that’s all fine, because it’s still funny as hell and that’s what matters most.
After a brief dream sequence cold open in which Phil has a “nightmare” that everyone’s alive again, Carol and Phil discuss the wedding plans over dinner: spaghetti with meatballs, except since all animals are extinct and meat doesn’t exist anymore, it’s with raisin balls instead. Carol uses these as a metaphor to describe the upcoming wedding – just like the raisin balls don’t substitute well for meat, they’re not going to make the perfect couple, but they’re making the best of what they can. Of course, this also foreshadows how terribly their marriage will probably go (Carol tries a ball and immediately admits “You might want to just eat around them”), but it also sums up Carol’s character in a sympathetic but flawed way. She’s doing all this seemingly ridiculous stuff because she truly believes in making the best of their situation, and there’s something noble and loving in that, even if the results are… well, raisin balls.
Carol promises to put together the whole wedding herself as long as Phil gets the rings, so she puts together the whole wedding herself while Phil holds a bachelor party for himself and his various ball friends. This party mostly consists of Phil torching everything that comes to mind with a flame thrower, and while it’s a fun bit, it’s more or less the same joke that carried most of the first episode.
The wedding comes around, and Carol’s decorated the church appropriately, not to mention recorded the part of the priest herself. The whole procession is predictably awkward, and of course, Phil didn’t get the rings. Carol, heartbroken, runs out of the church.
Feeling bad, Phil breaks into Carol’s house to try to console her and finds the whole place elaborately decorated for the occasion, even with an improvised cake (“Is that eggplant?”). Phil finds Carol, agrees to get rings with her, and the two finally complete the marriage. It’s necessary for the show to get through all of this to get to Phil and Carol actually getting married, but this whole sequence feels rather rushed. Hopefully the show doesn’t make a habit of this.
Outside of an obviously terrible sex life, Phil and Carol find that married life isn’t too bad. Carol’s impassioned commitment to their unity also means that she’s more willing to accept Phil for who he is, and with that, to join him on his destructive rampages and mansion raquetball games. It feels great to see Carol open up like this and for the two to connect the most they have so far, but just as Phil admits their marriage is “surprisingly tolerable,” they run into a passing limousine. And sure enough, there’s yet another human who survived the virus, this time Mad Men‘s January Jones.
It feels like a bit of a bummer every time the show introduces another cast member, like they’re backing off more and more on the central premise that makes the show so unique. Of course it would be tough to maintain a whole show off of just one or two cast members, but they’ve been doing such a good job with it so far! This episode’s plot also didn’t stack up as nicely as the pilots. Could Phil possibly completely forget to bring the rings? And what reason would he have to intentionally avoid it now that he’s resigned to getting married? Not to mention smaller gripes with the show’s internal logic – for instance, it was easy to buy Phil talking to the mannequin girl when he was descending into madness in the show’s first episode, but it’s a lot harder to buy into it now that he has another person to keep him grounded, let alone that Carol unflinchingly accepts it when Phil introduces the mannequin as his ex-girlfriend.
But once again, the show makes up for all of this by just being really funny. For instance, when Carol insists that since they’re the only two people left in the United States, one of them should be the president. They quickly vote, and when they both choose Phil, Carol excitedly exclaims “It’s unanimous! I don’t think that’s ever happened before.” Other jokes are more subtle, like how Phil shows up to the wedding in his usual stained t-shirt and cargo shorts, but when he sees Carol walk down the aisle in full bride regalia, he quickly tucks in his shirt. Strong round two for Last Man On Earth – let’s see if they can keep it going.