NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “The Last Man on Earth” are present in this review
For a goofy sitcom, The Last Man on Earth has dealt with some pretty grim subject matter since it returned to the airwaves last month. A two-week hiatus left us hanging further as well, after we got an extended look at the dead world of the show through Mike’s eyes, and dealt with the fallout of the group losing the other Phil to the botched appendicitis operation during last year’s midseason finale. This sadness further highlighted just how superb, “Fish in the Dish” was this week though, a welcome batch of relief that continues the series’ recent hot streak, and focuses on great comedy above all else.
Carol has decided that she wants to think about having children again, and in the process, she begins to pressure Phil about his sperm count. The great jokes for this situation really wrote themselves, especially when Carol does her thing and takes matters into her own hands, in a hysterically offbeat fashion. After creating a custom hand-drawn porno mag for Phil to work with, which is about as effective as you would think, and putting together a horrifying room full of crayon sketches of empowered women and baby pictures, which she affectionately refers to as, “The Masturbatorium”, Phil is left to try his best to appease Carol on her latest runaway train of thought. The results, predictably, are very, very funny.
Phil however becomes concerned when Carol fetches him a pharmaceutical sperm count test, which appears to indicate that he’s sterile, as do several subsequent tests. The account of Phil’s life that could suggest how his sperm count went down is highly amusing, such as his love of marijuana, and his favourite high school game of literally him and his friends just punching each other in the genitals, but it no doubt foreshadows bad news for Carol, which is the closest that this episode came to once again delving into the darker side of its humour.
Eventually, Phil convinces Todd to give him a sperm sample to test the machine, though it works just fine for Todd, and this leaves Phil having to confront the fact that he will never have a family. Again, this is the closest that the show skirts to darker territory, but as you can expect, Phil initially lies to Carol, and claims that Todd hasn’t given him the test yet. It’s surprising that there wasn’t any real fallout from this later, but perhaps they’re saving that for next week’s episode, and you’ll see why.
Todd has his own problems to deal with as well, when he continues to juggle Gail and Melissa, and quickly finds himself in over his head. As much as big story developments with Phil and Carol went on this week, it was Todd who felt like he stole the show most of all, having arguably the funniest jokes of the episode. Mel Rodriguez really nailed the scenes of Todd’s comical, cloying anguish, particularly a gut-bustingly funny scene where Todd screams at himself on the beach, and then commandeers a nearby jet ski, yelling at himself constantly after speeding along the waves as well. Todd’s really come a long way since his weaker arcs at the start of the season, and I don’t think there have been many instances where the character has been funnier than he has here. Things get even worse when Erica approaches Todd about the other Phil’s request to have Todd be spiritual father to the baby as well, and Todd ends up kissing her, making his situation amusingly worse.
In fact, given all of Todd’s hilarious adultery and subsequent self-torment in this episode, it’s a bit disappointing that there was no follow-up to Carol’s half-delusional kiss of death from last week. Carol spent pretty much the entire episode trying to force a sperm count out of Phil, and occasionally talking to the other women about it. It was a bit of a missed opportunity to have Carol not come forward in any capacity with Todd’s secret, even if it did give Todd the opportunity to do the right thing, and admit to all three women of his affairs simultaneously, along with a humourously mugging Carol, which is the only slight reference to her knowing about the affairs from last week. This is also followed by Todd screwing up a petition to just hook up with all three of the girls, leading to even bigger laughs.
The biggest surprise of the episode was still yet to come however, as Phil prepares to tell Carol about his apparent sterility. Carol however becomes distracted by a figure in the distance, which is none other than Mike Miller, Phil’s brother! He’s already found his way to Phil’s group, and the subsequent reunion of the two running to each other on the beach is a nicely emotional moment, before Phil punches Mike in the genitals, right as the episode ends. Is it anger? Is it affection? Either way, it’s clever, as it’s equal parts emotional and funny, and effectively leads into next week, since it subtly and intelligently begs the question of whether Phil loves or hates his brother.
“Fish in the Dish” offered a strong batch of laughs, and is yet another winning episode for The Last Man on Earth. Now that the show has been confirmed to be getting a third season, it feels like it’s got a renewed sense of vigor and purpose, as both Phil’s and Todd’s separate storylines were just as funny as they were engaging. It’s also awesome to have Mike already be introduced to the show’s main cast, and not be saved as a holdover character for Season Three, now that we know a Season Three is definitely on the way. Mike’s return is bound to be a big focus next week, and that’s great, though I hope that Phil and Todd don’t get off too easy for their separate deceits!
- Carol's 'Masturbatorium' aids
- Todd's comical anguish about his adultery
- Phil and Mike's emotional and hilarious reunion
- No follow-up to Carol/Todd conflict