Mike Miller made it to Earth! Mike Miller is on the ground!
One of the two biggest questions left after the events of the midseason finale was answered on The Last Man on Earth Season 2 Episode 11.
Phil's younger brother Mike survived his risky escape from the International Space Station. He crash landed on a yacht. And he and Phil were even reunited – sort of.
"Pitch Black" didn't give us an answer (or even a hint) as to the question of Phil 2's fate. Last we saw, at the end of The Last Man on Earth Season 2 Episode 10, Phil 2 was flat-lining as Gail and Todd attempted to perform a makeshift appendix surgery.
Instead, the winter premiere focused entirely on Mike's first few days back on Earth after three years on the International Space Station. The interplay between Mike and self-described "lone survivor" Pat Brown (excellently portrayed to maximum creepiness by Mark Boone Junior) was funny enough that I was okay waiting another week to find out Phil 2's fate.
I loved all of the Mike-Pat scenes. This return perfectly set up Mike's arc for the remainder of The Last Man on Earth Season 2.
Oh farts, oh farts, oh farts, oh farts...Mike
One of the best things about the introduction of Mike Miller as Phil's brother at the end of the The Last Man on Earth Season 1 was that he perfectly contextualizes why Phil is the way he is.
Their personalities are not identical, but you can clearly see from the way that Mike behaves on his own (and, in "Pitch Black," the way he interacts with his hallucination of young Phil) that these two are brothers and grew up closely together.
Mike's a marvelously drawn character, and Jason Sudeikis is great at portraying him.
When Mike crash landed, I was half-expecting to see an at-sea version of the very first episode of the series. Mike, alone on Earth and thinking himself the last man, would've been an interesting parallel to Phil's very first episode, prior to his finding Carol.
It was a pleasant surprise to find "Pitch Black" was not at all what I expected.
Mike discovered Pat's boat after some cajoling by his hallucinated brother. Little Phil (Jacob Tremblay, adorable as always) behaved exactly as I expected Little Phil would behave. In fact, he behaved basically exactly as Adult Phil behaves on a regular basis, same vocabulary and everything.
Young Phil: You beefed it so hard.
Mike: YOU beefed it!
It's funny; we'll never know how much of Phil's current personality is a result of his regression after spending all that time on his own, and how much of it was the fact that he simply never grew up. Was there some version of pre-apocalyptic Phil who was actually a fully-functioning grown-up?
Throughout the first half of the season, we got a really clear idea of how much Mike missed his family, and his brother in particular (naming the new baby worm Phil really underscored that). It made sense, thematically, that Mike would be hallucinating his older brother playfully cajoling him and razzing him into not giving up.
It also seems clear that the hallucination took the form of younger Phil for two reasons: one, so that we could be treated to the absolutely delightful Jacob Tremblay on the small screen, and two, so that the eventual real reunion of Mike and Phil would retain its emotional impact.
I, for one, am really looking forward to that eventual reunion. It will probably happen during the season finale.
The introduction of Pat was also wonderful. It's surprising that it's taken this long for us to meet a wacko, paranoid, government-conspiracy-believing survivor, but Pat was a great version of this trope. Equal parts pitifully lonely, creepy, and unhinged.
Pat: One time, I saw a bag of bones wearing a bikini.
Mike: I'm so sorry, that must have been awful.
Pat: Well, I ain't gonna lie to you, sight of a bikini still does it for me. Skin or no.
Mike: Yeah, I'm more of a skin guy, myself.
Pat: Different strokes.
That exchange was laugh-out-loud funny, particularly Mike's facial weirded-out expression after it.
The Last Man on Earth is great at sneaking in these emotional kickers amidst all of the goofy absurdity. Mike's conviction that his family was still out there, his refusal to give up and admit that they were dead until seeing it beyond all doubt for himself, was one such emotional kicker.
As soon as Pat started reversing that ice cream truck, I figured he'd seen one of Phil's "Alive in Tucson" signs. Luckily, instead of Mike missing the sign and the back half of this season devolving into near-misses where Mike almost sees the sign and Pat prevents him from doing so, Mike actually did spot it.
After a brief struggle with Pat, who tried to convince him that the "Alive in Tucson" signs were just a government conspiracy to wipe out all the apocalypse survivors so that the chosen few could "rebuild," Mike wound up in a body bag at the makeshift health center Pat had shown him.
Mike: "RIP Spaceman. Cause of death: The 'goverment.'" Almost got it right.
Once Mike emerged and cast off the Pat-mandated hazmat gear, he was off to Tucson. Unfortunately, as we already know, Phil and the rest of the crew are not there. Will Mike be able to follow Phil's trail to find him in Malibu?
- I love that there were just multiple yachts left floating around after the apocalypse. There was Phil/Tandy's yacht that he blew up for Christmas, and this one that "broke" Mike's fall.
- Looks like worm Phil is stuck with crazy Pat. I wonder if we'll see either of them again.
- "Deez Knots" being the name of Pat's boat was a fantastic gag.
What did you think of the show's return with "Pitch Black"? Sound off by commenting below and watch The Last Man on Earth online here at TV Fanatic if you've missed anything!
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.