Synopsis of 1×05: Phil’s efforts to bed Melissa are stopped short by the second last man on earth.
Synopsis of 1×06: Carol tries to nudge Todd and Melissa together, while Phil attempts to drive them apart.
“Dunk the Skunk” kicks off more or less right where the last episode left off – Phil’s decided to more or less commit to his marriage with Carol, and Melissa insists that her comments about her horniness were just drunken confessionals that should be ignored. But soon after, Carol insists to an apprehensive Phil before another love-making session, “We need to make babies for the human race to survive! As many babies as possible!” And that’s Phil’s out – he needs to have sex with Melissa to repopulate the world more efficiently and to avoid incestuous children.
Phil tries to woo over both Melissa and Carol separately on this idea, but for once they both see through his bull and chastise him. Once he realizes he’s ruined his chances with both of his potential sexual partners, Phil arranges an elaborate “Dunk the Skunk” game for them to blow off some steam by knocking him into a dunk tank (the tank has a faulty seat, which leads to a lot of slapstick humor that gets repetitive real fast). Carol and Melissa ignore him in favor of spending time with each other.
Once Phil’s given up, the girls invite Phil in to discuss their plan. They will allow Phil to have sex with Melissa, under a series of strictly-enforced, reproduction-only conditions. But this is all Phil wanted, and he arranges for a romantic night with Melissa. Aaaaaand just as they’re about to go for it, we see the guy who’s been making veiled appearances in the commercial bumpers – Todd, a kindhearted but distinctly overweight man.
While the first few episodes have struggled with pacing in a few ways, this one seems to finally find the right rhythm for the show. We see a little more in Melissa’s character from this one, and even though she’s still a lot more vaguely defined than Carol and Phil, she’s starting to contribute something to the show’s chemistry. On the other hand, this episode’s real light on laughs if only because it thrives off the same cringe comedy that made most of “Sweet Melissa” so difficult to watch. Phil’s acting extremely artificially the whole episode long, and while I appreciate that the writers are willing to make the protagonist so clearly unlikable, the show has a hard time getting to some authentic humor through his guise. Luckily the episode opens up at the end, once the characters finally treat each other with honesty – it’s classic Carol, for instance, that she pronounces Good Old Raisins and Peanuts as “GORAP” because “some people call it ‘GORP’ but that’s incorrect, because they’re forgetting about the ‘and.'”
The cast sits down with Todd to kick off “Some Friggin’ Fat Dude,” and we quickly realize that Todd has basically everything going for him outside of his weight. He’s nice, cheerful, vulnerable, and he even has the same favorite movie as Melissa (The Shawshank Redemption – one of the episode’s best moments is when Phil, trying to pretend he’s seen the movie, says his favorite scene is “the part where the shawshank is redeemed”). Melissa falls for Todd fast, and Carol’s all about helping it happen. Of course, Phil wants the exact opposite.
Phil spies on Melissa and Todd as they have a romantic date in an amusement park, and their chemistry is too clear for him to deny. So, pretending he’s going to help Carol nudge the two together, he decides to pry them apart. But this only backfires, as getting Todd to take off his shirt to play tennis reveals his scar, which Todd explains with earnest is from a kidney he donated in a failed surgery years earlier. This only makes Melissa fall for him even harder.
All this once again comes across as rather artificial. While everyone else is clearly now more ready to denounce Phil’s debauchery and manipulation, Forte’s still acting like too much of a cornball the whole time to believe the performance. And it’s great that Todd’s not just a subject for fat jokes (not to mention that one of the last people on Earth appears to be an ethnicity other than white), but he’s almost too perfect, too exactly right for Carol. “Some Friggin’ Fat Dude” relies on simplistic sitcom logic in a way that doesn’t do it any favors, not to mention that it’s getting dull that Phil’s single only goal as a character is to have sex with Melissa.
Once again though, the episode opens up at the end, when after getting shut out by Melissa one last time, Phil apologizes and tries to explain his actions. It’s a monologue that reminds us exactly why Phil’s been acting so neurotic – because he is neurotic, and we’re seeing him after 2 years of talking to nobody but sports balls. His behavior over Melissa seems so illogical because he’s literally going crazy for her.
The show still backs out of fully committing to Phil’s confession of love to Melissa, when after she still rejects him, he quickly backs off and says, “So I was gonna say all that stuff to Carol. What do you think? Any notes?” It’s hard to say what direction the show goes at this point and whether it gives any real permanence to the revelations at the end of this episode. Hopefully the characters do take the more honest route, because that’s where the show’s at its best.