Oh shit, is it an hour ’til midnight already? I wrote out this blog at noon and have yet to actually type up and post the damn thing. Shoot! Last season, one of my favorite surprise hits was LAST MAN ON EARTH. If you have not seen the show, do not read after the break. The show is about the last man on earth after a deadly virus kills off the rest of the world’s population. That’s all you need to know! Now for those of you who have seen the show…
LAST MAN ON EARTH premiered on FOX last spring to consistent numbers and critical praise. The premise seemingly to revolve around Phil Miller (Will Forte) as the last man on Earth. By the end of the pilot we meet Carol (Kristen Schaal) and through the first season a whole host of other characters who all venture to Tuscon because of the signs Phil has painted all of the country. At the end of the first season, Phil has upset everyone (all five people) in Tuscon and has been banished. Carol married Phil before they knew there were other people on Earth in the hopes that they would have “legitimate” children to repopulate the planet. Carol ended up leaving Phil, but felt bad that the others banished him and so rekindled their relationship as they set off together at the end of the first season. The only hint towards the plot of Season 2 was Phil’s mentioning of his brother who we see floating out in space. I was excited to see how the first episode of season two would start us off and I was not disappointed.
Season Two, Episode 1 “Is Anybody Out There”
Phil and Carol take a military fighter plane as their transportation to the grocery store driving through downtown Washington D.C. When they reach the store, Carol shoots the door open with a gun, clearly she has adapted to Phil’s habits.
While leaving the grocery store, Phil pulls away and accidentally drops a missile. They continue driving and Carol wants to go back to get the missile. Phil concedes, clearly he’s adapted a little to Carol as well.
Carol says she’s happy just hearing that Phil is willing to go back and she doesn’t need to put the missile back in its place. Phil says he will put a caution sign next to it the next day.
Series of moments of the pair goofing around together.
Phil asks Carol if she would like to make the White House their permanent home. She rejects the idea.
Phil goes to sleep while Carol looks through her memory sketches. She stops and looks with love at a drawing of “the Tuscon gang.”
Phil’s brother (who we will refer to as “brother”) is alone in space. He sees that there are no inhabitants in the Canary Isles and mumbles a complaint.
Phil takes Carol to her home in Delaware. She is thrilled and gives her a tour of her home.
Phil suggests making Delaware their home. She again rejects their home. She suggests they go to Tuscon.
Phil refuses to go to Tuscon. They fight and Carol sleeps in another bed.
Brother “fights” with his pet worms over whether or not he should fly himself to the ground. When he says too many harsh words he realizes his mistake and apologizes, just like Phil would to the sports balls he views as his friends.
The worm “Nancy” is dead. Brother looks saddened.
Carol sees an “Alive in Tuscon” sign. She announces that she will take a nap in the back.
Phil stops for gas. He misses Carol getting out to explore the rest stop.
Phil takes off not realizing he doesn’t have Carol with him. Carol chases after but he is oblivious.
That night, Phil realizes Carol is missing. He turns around and begins to search for her.
Brother having found Nancy dead, places her in a cylinder and releases her into space.
Phil comes across the rest stop he believes is the one but she is not there. He cries out her name in sadness.
Phil dives to Tuscon thinking Carol would go there. He is terrified to be confronted by the crew so walks in disguised.
Phil finds that Tuscon has been abandoned and his own home burned. He is still all alone.
Carol sits at the correct gas station. She sits politely on the ground waiting for Phil to return.
Brother continues to float in space.
Many of the writers from LAST MAN ON EARTH came from COMMUNITY and it shows in the structure. While I typically argue that the first act of a half hour comedy is all set up and the second half is all punchlines, that is harder to argue in this series and COMMUNITY. Dan Harmon created “story circles,” which is essentially Joseph Campbell’s ideas or three act structure crammed into a half hour.
You have the goal: find a permanent home. The midpoint: lost Carol. The false climax/low point: 2 days of searching and Phil still hasn’t found Carol. And the Climax: Phil alone in Tuscon. Other shows may have had Carol appear in Tuson, or a confrontation between Phil and the Crew, but the heart of what makes Dan Harmon’s story circles different from traditional half hours is that at the end of each episode the characters have changed a little. The evolution in character personas may be small and slow but it is there. Phil still hadn’t totally accepted his own wrong doings from last season, and the hope in this first episodes is that this season may be about righting those wrongs, even if those he hurt (other than Carol) are not directly in front of him.
If you have not watched every episode do yourself a favor and marathon season 1 so you can catch up. It is one of the best written comedies (if not the best) on television.