Well, that was a surprisingly somber end to both The Last Man on Earth Season 2 Episode 10 and the first half of this season.
One of the reasons I love this show so much is because it's unlike any other comedy currently on TV. Whereas most half hour comedies and sitcoms rely on heavy plotting ("x characters put in x situation – wackiness ensues!!"), this show feels overwhelmingly like the writers have just created their characters and unleashed them into this world, allowing stories to play out in a natural way. For a show as darkly humorous and often absurd as this, it feels oddly realistic. I certainly wouldn't call it a sitcom.
We picked up right where we left off at the end of The Last Man on Earth Season 2 Episode 9: Mike Miller was ejected from his space craft despite his attempt to abort the airlock opening, and Phil 2 was collapsed on the group, grimacing in pain.
Predictably, Phil 2's malady was appendicitis. While the timing was dramatic, it isn't unlikely that something like this would happen to one of the survivors. Gordon's death earlier in the season, while mostly played for laughs, ended up foreshadowing this tragic event.
It's actually kind of terrifying if you think about it: of the handful of survivors, none among them are doctors. Gail was voted the de facto doctor earlier in the season, and had a chance to practice her skills when she needed to stitch up Melissa's cut finger. But obviously stitching a cut is not at all like cutting someone open and removing their ruptured appendix.
Gail knew that, but the group was (knowingly) grasping at straws. Gail initially ran away from the responsibility when it became obvious that Phil 2's only chance of survival was in her hands (specifically, in her ability to perform invasive surgery).
Of course, Gail and Erica are close friends, having spent the prior two years together before they linked up with the other survivors; Erica was easily able to convince Gail to try her hand at saving Phil 2.
The group snapped into action and each played their part in attempting to help Phil 2. Carol and Melissa went to retrieve medical supplies from the hospital, for Gail to use during the surgery. This gave them a practical purpose and also provided the opportunity for Melissa to break down and confess to Carol that Todd had turned down her marriage proposal.
I was kind of stunned that, when Melissa and Todd were briefly alone gather painkillers for Phil 2, Todd thought it was a good time to address the proposal and clarify that he had (quietly) said no right before Phil 2 collapsed. C'mon, Todd!! Poor timing, dude. He added a bunch of pain on top of an already stressful situation. So not cool.
Melissa has been something of an ice queen for the majority of the series (which is unsurprising because ice queen is sort of what January Jones does best), so it's been great to see Melissa's vulnerability as she came to the realization that she actually does love Todd and wants to be with him.
I'll admit, though, that I loved Carol's no-nonsense attitude, where she indulged Melissa's emotional pain for a minute and then essentially told Melissa to pull herself together so they could help Phil 2 and then deal with this later.
Melissa, you're finally opening up and I'm so proud of you. But I'm gonna need you to shut it right back down, lady. Phil needs us! So just box that up, we'll go save his life, and then we'll come back and dig into those delicious feelings. It's what I like to call an emotional doggy bag and they taste even better the next day.Carol
Meanwhile, Phil/Tandy was doing what he does best: cracking jokes and making an inadvertent mess of things. One of the funniest moments of the otherwise really somber episode was when Tandy interrupted Phil 2 attempting to make his peace with Erica and misheard Phil 2's asking for water as Phil 2 asking Tandy to be the father of his unborn child. Oh, Tandy. Yeah, right.
At Gail's request, Todd and Tandy went to the morgue to try to get a body for Gail to practice surgery on. Unfortunately, all of the bodies were just bones, 2+ years later. Luckily for us, that scene also provided us with the priceless opportunity to see Todd "breakdancing."
When Tandy realized that they needed to dig up the only fresh body they knew of for Gail to practice on (Gordon's), Todd finally snapped and had a breakdown, confessing to his Gail hook-up.
This is the straw that broke the camel's back. The camel is dead and I ate it! Just like the bacon! Which is another thing I did.Todd
The whole scene was fantastic and also provided a really great parallel to the Melissa-Carol scene in the hospital.
Meanwhile, throughout the episode interwoven with scene of the Malibu crew attempting to prepare for Phil's surgery, we also saw Mike Miller coming to terms with the idea of attempting to descend to earth using the descent module.
Again, Jason Sudeikis is a total rockstar. I mean, think about it: he's been acting off of fake worms. He's been doing a seriously incredible job, and I have enjoyed all of the space subplot interludes.
The closing sequence of "Silent Night" was absolutely fantastic and riveting. Seriously, everything about it was jaw-dropping and intense.
Interspersed with scenes of Mike plummeting to earth as the descent module fell to pieces, we saw Gail attempt to quell Phil's hemorrhaging when something went wrong during the surgery. Mary Steenburgen did an absolutely incredible job throughout the entire episode, but her panic during the surgery was visceral and real.
The cuts to the rest of the group members were also incredibly moving. Will Forte's unusually stony and serious face as Tandy held Carol, whose face was buried in his shoulder. Cleopatra Coleman's shocked and horrified face, with tears streaming out of her eyes. It was brilliantly done, and so moving.
- Tandy going back and forth between talking to the fetus and Phil's appendix was hilarious. That whole scene – one of Tandy's several "interruptions" – was wonderful.
- I'm still not crazy invested in Gail/Todd, but Gail asking Todd to please stay as she was practicing surgery on hand pies was very sweet. Todd calming Gail down right before the surgery by grabbing her hand and reassuring her was a really great moment as well.
- Gail wondering why Todd's breakdancing would upset her and calling it beautiful was so good.
- Mike naming the new worm Phil was a great detail.
Is Phil 2 really dead? Will Mike make it back to Earth and reunite with his brother? I don't know about you guys, but I'm going to have serious trouble waiting months to find out their fates. You can watch The Last Man on Earth online here at TV Fanatic to relive the first half of the season prior to the spring premiere.
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.