While Last Man on Earth has suffered from some boring, near-laughless episodes and aimless subplots this season, it’s able to maintain one thing: a sense of underlying urgency that as soon as one member of the group is lost, it’s a big deal. This chosen family of misfits is everything to each other, and it’s the biggest possible deal when Jasper–yes, the near-mute, oft-expressionless boy we can forget exists–goes missing. After all, he’s the only hope for procreation in this upcoming generation, though he may not quite wrap his head around how important that is. Carol and Erica do, as they awkwardly vie for competition of Jasper’s attention toward their baby girls. (Yes, it’s as uncomfortable to watch as it sounds, and especially creepy when Carol puts makeup on her newborns.)
Jasper also can’t quite wrap his head around discipline. It may have something to do with the anarchic, chaotic way he’s spent the last few years of his childhood, but he listens to literally nothing any adult tells him to do. At the outset of the episode, he’s driving a limousine down dusty roads, and when confronted, has nothing to say. Later, he’s setting off fireworks and exploding stuffed animals, and when Todd confronts him this time, he’s equally blithe, if not a bit confused. Todd’s character work here as a desperate, painfully-unconvincing disciplinarian is definitely a highlight of the episode.
Something worth noting, that careful viewers probably noticed, is that the second explosion we hear (that Todd also blames Jasper for) comes from behind Jasper–way behind him. We know this since Jasper turns his head back around to look at Todd, who’s yelling at him (again). It’s not 100% clear if Jasper was responsible for this explosion–after all, it could have been one he set in the distance that exploded late–but it seems a whole lot like a clue that this idyllic mansion where the gang now lives isn’t so isolated after all.
Of course, as in most cases where the gang has found a new hangout, they’re not alone. Little tells have been teasing us for a few episodes now–clever camera angles to make us feel like the gang is being watched, and obviously, that mystery explosion–and we discover this to be true at the conclusion of the episode, when the gang is out looking for a missing Jasper, and Tandy and Todd hear a siren emanating from a maximum-security prison. They rush over to see what the deal is, assume they’ve found Jasper, and–lo and behold, Fred Armisen peers out from a jail cell window, bedraggled, wide-eyed, and evidently shocked that his plan to get attention somehow worked.
And so, the winter finale of Last Man on Earth ends on two substantial cliffhangers, with another new and assuredly odd character introduced, and the odds of another one being gone at about a 50/50. Jasper’s clever and has pretty good survival instincts, but who knows what’s lurking behind the cacti and rock mountains surrounding Zuatanejo. We’ll have to wait til next year to find out.
Season 4, Episodes 8 (S04E08)
The Last Man on Earth airs Sunday at 930 PM on Fox
Emily Nuncio Schick | Contributor