Fred Armisen has an almost uncanny ability to play multiple characters, imitate nearly any accent in the world, and utilize various shades of humor, as seen by his versatility primarily on Saturday Night Live and Portlandia. His versatility isn’t limited to his acting experience, either; he writes, he improvises, he plays drums, he sings, he’s even remarkably good at interpreting Jimmy Fallon’s goofy song lyrics on the spot. As a musical and comedic talent with few parallels in Hollywood, he’s perfect as an addition to The Last Man on Earth–and his role is enough to add some much-needed high stakes, and a shot in the arm to an often meandering and unengaging series thus far this season.
At the end of our last episode, Tandy and Todd honked their car horn hopefully at a prison, hoping they’d find a runaway Jasper somewhere inside. Their assumption couldn’t have been further from the truth. In response to the horn, a desperate, thickly bearded, and near suicidal Karl furiously pumps an alarm, laughs crazily, then stands by a narrow window in awe. He’s the only one, we find, who has survived the mass extinction that didn’t shy away from even the most guarded and protected places in Juarez: the maximum-security prison. And Karl is in there for all the right reasons: he’s a fugitive serial killer with a Jeffery Dahmer-like tendency for murdering innocent people, dismembering them, and freezing their heads to devour later in a pot roast.
Armisen adds plenty of silly quirks to an otherwise incredibly disturbing character; he does so with such understated skill and subtlety that the true-blue psychopath he is becomes almost adorable. The terrible paintings he does of people are arguably the best part of his character–always with a waving hand raised, they’re about second-grade level in terms of artistry (although, as he tells one of his models, “It’s like Matisse mixed with Shakespeare with just a little Rhea Perlman on top.”)
One could argue that Armisen’s kooky character work doesn’t have enough to bounce off of to make it a “balanced” episode, but that’s about to change, and an interesting sidetrack from our plot was overdue. Karls hasty shaving of his beard and changing into the uniform of the prison guard (who he, yes, murdered) and confronting Todd and Tandy is the last thing we see before the episode concludes. We’re set up for a juicy next few episode (hopefully, not too juicy, if you know what I mean), as we see whether Karl is really past his killing ways, or if he will in fact, be the true Last Man on Earth.
Some choice lines and moments from our both lovable and terrifying weirdo and the (living) people he does interact with:
- Karl asks for a “a soup to share” in his date with Gossip Girl‘s Leighton Meester. This is the final straw for her, apparently, as she very obviously fakes a call about her dog who’s suddenly gotten sick. When Armisen asks her name, she replies after a perfectly timed beat, “I don’t know.”
- When he’s finally arrested by a squad of police and they discover a head in the hotel’s mini-fridge, he responds, “Whaaat? I’m just as surprised as you!”
- His numerous attempts to escape include, at one point, the manufacturing of wings. And no, they don’t work.
Season 4, Episodes 9 (S04E09)
The Last Man on Earth airs Sunday at 930 PM on Fox
Emily Nuncio Schick | Contributor