Is there something bigger waiting for the crew on THE LAST MAN ON EARTH?
(Hint: There’d better be.)
After last week’s relatively serious episode, in which semi-regular character Lewis was killed, we take a near 180, with Gail returning, the crew going deep with Melissa and – yeah – the appearance of some Lochness-type being in Carol’s family photo? It’s all so focused.
So far the second half of the third season has been wild, but this? What else are we getting?
For one, we get Gail’s return in “Hair of the Dog.” And she gets nothing but the normal return as the group doesn’t realize she’s been wasting away in a stalled elevator for 10 days. Instead, Phil feeds her an alcoholic drink. As per usual, the group just doesn’t get it.
But it’s a little rushed. Gail’s imprisonment in the darkened elevator was the cliffhanger of the season’s halfway point. Yes, we saw Gail’s elevator start back up after last week’s “The Spirit of St. Lewis,” but tonight’s thread feels a little rushed. Within three minutes Gail is coherent and responding acrimoniously to everyone.
Of course, she’s also homesick, and she shows that she’s grateful to have people care for her. Even if one of those people is Carol. I’m slightly surprised that Gail wants to hang with a crew she previously wanted to escape, but ultimately I get it. She needs people. And these happen to be the only people around. Gail has to settle, so she’s glad to sleep in Carol’s bed, and glad to deal with Carol’s exuberance. In the end, these people are all Gail has.
Melissa, however, just doesn’t care. Somehow she agrees to travel with Phil and Todd to Akron (her old home), and it leads the crew to find that Melissa once was a popular real estate agent in town. Apparently she wants to revisit that past, appearing in her old red blazer.
Moreover, she goes through the routine of her typical day, including taking a pill that may just be the answer to her illness.
But is that the answer we really want?
The Last Man on Earth has flirted with the idea of manipulation. We’ve watched as the group has attempted to control Melissa, fitting her into whatever convenient definition works for them. But nothing has worked. The same goes for Gail – no matter how much Carol tries to normalize her “mom,” Gail still has a dark past that she’s simply unable to escape. Both Melissa and Gail (let’s be real – the best characters this season) have been pushed and pulled by the members of the surviving group, but now they’re both pushing back.
Personally, I’d like to see at least one of these ladies win. I hope that happens. Mostly because I’m tired of Phil and Todd dictating the score (even if there have been fewer funnier scenes than Phil knocking down a couple dozen bowling pins over the course of a full minute).
There’s been a lot of shifting during this third season of The Last Man on Earth. We started the season with a raid that nearly cost the lives of our survivors, and weeks later, we’re off in other cities attempting to understand the origins of the virus that killed billions. The stakes seem much greater than ever, as we’re starting to realize that maybe the people here on Earth are the only people around, that these weirdos are the only weirdos around. And yet … things feel a little too personal.
What if the survivors never figure out Melissa? What if Carol never gets to the bottom of whatever odd thing she notices in her photographs? Does any of that really matter? Is that truly the end of humanity?
The Last Man on Earth may be closer than ever to finality (and right now, Fox isn’t giving any hints about the show’s future). But it’s time that we get some real answers. Otherwise, we’re just flailing around in the middle of a mediocre sitcom, and I know this show is much better than that.
Season 3, Episode 12 (S03E12)
The Last Man on Earth airs Sundays at 930 PM on Fox
Timothy, who grew up on The Golden Girls and Seinfeld, writes regularly about entertainment, arts and lifestyles for a number of publications.
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Timothy Malcolm | Contributor