In the first few episodes of this season, the aimless cruise ship upon which our goofy “family” was stuck became a perfect symbol for what seemed to be an aimless plot and generally lost show. Goofy gags seemed purposeless and performative, many scenes felt like filler, and you could practically hear the plunk of jokes that just didn’t take. Here, our cast seems similarly bored and uninspired, sighing and rolling their eyes through their lines — even if the gestures are directed at each other, it seems more like they’re channeling the boredom and frustration of the actors themselves. For example, Gail’s motherly yet angry reaction to Carol’s stubbornness could have been replaced with me, yelling at the screen: “Are you guys kidding me? You’re going to have not one but two boring, anticlimactic births and not even address the Rubik’s cube from last episode? You’re shooting yourself in the foot, writers!”
The fact that Carol has not one, but two babies in the most painless way possible is odd, but this show obviously doesn’t shy away from random strangeness with no basis in reality for the sake of a joke. Of course, Erica, who had a standard painful birth with Dawn, is bitter about the smooth “sleep birth” Carol had, and Carol, in her typical tone-deaf way, rubs it in. (Her character work here is astute–channeling the smug grin of a mother who somehow gets off lucky with a typically harrowing experience for other moms). So when Carol has yet another effortless birth, it’s just confusing to Erica, who finally just shrugs it off, after displaying some indeed humorous resentment earlier in the episode.
Watching goofy, wannabe-dad Todd fawn over the babies is certainly cute, and the contrast between him and Melissa (who could clearly not care less) is at the very least, an interesting choice. After taking over “vagina-watching” duty from Tandy (who delivers these lines the best of anyone in the episode) and slipping into bed next to Melissa, he comes up with an excuse of “cocaine” vs. baby powder (re: the white substance on his shirt). It’s funny, sure, but the humor gets sucked out of it, given how many times he repeats himself (about 6 times). It’s a representation of other imperfect dialogue and that actually has the reverse effect of humor in a show that’s becoming increasingly deficient in it.
What’s particularly annoying is that the previous episode had left a delectable cliffhanger that is just aching to be resolved – namely, that of the Rubik’s cube — and it was not once mentioned. Obviously, the writers are playing the long game with this plot point, but sacrificing a consistent rhythm and pacing that keeps viewers engaged is a mistake.
Hopefully, we’ll get some excitement next week instead of a snoozefest, as the intriguing history of La Abuela’s house returns (crosses fingers). Until then, we can at least rest knowing that Carol’s babies are named in typical Carol/Tandy fashion (Beziquelle and Mike) and that they appear healthy… for now.
Season 4, Episodes 6 (S04E06)
The Last Man on Earth airs Sunday at 930 PM on Fox
Emily Nuncio Schick | Contributor