Synopsis of 1×13: After Phil (1) knocks over Phil (2)’s lamp, Phil (2) kicks Phil (1) out of town for good. Carol drives out in search of Phil (1) and decides to stay with him and to start a new life together somewhere other than Tucson. Phil (1) alludes to having a brother and the final shot is an astronaut with the name “Miller” in the International Space Station, calling for assistance from Houston.

Rating: ?????

The Last Man On Earth wasn’t the show I expected it to be, nor was it the show I wanted it to be. Rather than playing on the freedom and opportunity afforded by the show’s premise, the post-apocalyptic comedy mostly focused on how much various people wanted to have sex with each other, in ways that grew increasingly repetitive. Despite Will Forte’s strong acting abilities, Phil Miller turned out to be a deeply unsympathetic character, such that it became a chore to watch him every week. The Last Man On Earth desperately needed a change of pace if it hoped to survive. And luckily, it got one, even if it took until the season finale.

We begin with a Phil Miller lustful freakout that finally we can agree with (er, with which we can agree – sorry Carol). It is ridiculous that first-Phil-now-Tandy had to marry Carol before they had sex, a move which ruined his life from that point onward, and yet new-Phil just gets a first class ticket to Bone Town sans-wedding. Carol says it’s because she’s not trying to have a baby; I suspect that it’s also because Carol’s since learned that marriage isn’t a great idea in this post-apocalyptic world, hence the divorce the first time. One way or another, here we can stop hating Tandy and really agree with just how the man cannot catch a break to save his life. When Carol asks “Don’t you ever want to have sex just for fun?”, Forte’s reaction is one of his best moments of the season.

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Generally The Last Man On Earth really works as a show when the characters stop lying to each other and really get to the heart of their conflicts, and in the finale that happens a lot. Tandy accidentally admits to both attempting to kill Todd and to hating new-Phil’s guts, which gets Phil to finally demand that Tandy leaves, a decision that everyone else gets behind without question. And honestly, they’re right – he’s clearly not compatible with the group, he consistently causes them misfortune, he’s a compulsive liar, and it’s the best for everyone if he leaves. But Tandy insists on staying in his hometown and hulls up in his room. It’s another classic guaranteed-not-to-work plan, and pretty soon he’s stuck eating toilet paper, trying to convince himself it’s a corndog.

Eventually Carol manages to lure Tandy out and join them as they sing around the campfire outside, only so that Phil can tackle him, tie him up and take him out into the desert. I really like that there’s nothing objectively good or evil about this move, and it doesn’t turn Phil into some sort of villain. He does this because he knows it’s in the best interest of the group, and he forgivingly gives Tandy enough supplies to last him a few days, even if they’re depleted in 20 minutes. But while it’s not quite as selfish as Tandy’s previous attempt to do the same to Todd, Phil’s still acting cruelly just so he can better his own conditions. It’s a complex situation.

And it’s a situation that makes it so I completely buy when Carol decides to come back for Tandy. As much frustration as Tandy has caused her since they met, they’re closer to each other than any two others in Tucson by a longshot. And it completely suits character to choose the person who only tries to leave someone out in the desert to die over someone who successfully does. Tandy summed it up best himself earlier in the episode: “I may not be a good person, I may have my flaws, but I’m still a good person!”

Tandy may be selfish, manipulative, compulsively dishonest, and moderately insane, but Carol can accept that, because hey, he’s Phil Miller (and now he actually does get to be Phil Miller again), warts and all. When they first met, Phil couldn’t be bothered to pick up the wedding rings on the day of their marriage, but now he’s putting in the effort to write an incredibly sweet song for Carol even with the knowledge it’ll probably do nothing to win her back. Honestly though, that song is great.

With Phil and Carol speeding off into the sunset, it’s unclear the direction The Last Man On Earth will take for its second season. Will we flash between Carol and Phil’s new home and the crew back in Tucson, or is this the last we’ve seen of most of the cast? Personally I’m fine with leaving them behind – I can’t imagine much interesting happening there with Phil gone, and most of the remaining characters never really got developed.

It’s also hard to see how Phil’s brother, revealed in the episode’s final scene, could really become a regular cast member. More likely, the scene was just a throwaway joke and a reward to those who saw the family photo in the first episode and though for a second “Wait, is that Jason Sudeikis?” But more importantly, Carol and Phil could go anywhere and meet anyone at this point, live any kind of life they could imagine. There’s no road map for season two, and against my better judgment, I’m excited to see it.

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