NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of The Last Man on Earth are present in this review
After hitting an especially great high with “No Bull” a couple of weeks ago, The Last Man on Earth returned strong again, after taking last week off, with “Secret Santa”, the first of two Christmas-themed episodes, and arguably the best episode yet this season! This episode once again highlighted the group’s family dynamic in a great way, and lightened the comedy considerably, while also playing well with the contrast of Mike Miller floating in the space station, as the last of his worm companions start to die.
The episode begins with Carol going hilariously overboard on Christmas decorations, much to the annoyance of everyone else. Carol tries to get everyone in the Holiday spirit however by forcing a Secret Santa mandate, having everyone pick out the names of random people, and get them Christmas presents, with a, “Billion-dollar spending limit.” Hey, I guess we don’t want the others to feel bad if one of them gets the Hope Diamond, right? That’s not a hypothetical either, as original Phil seriously finds the Hope Diamond and gives it to other Phil, along with Erica’s name, which original Phil took out, to give other Phil the gift of redemption. Aww… This Secret Santa element was a great way to explore the dynamic between characters that aren’t normally paired up in any significant way. Sure, we’ve seen lots of the two Phil Miller’s, original Phil and Todd, Carol and the various women, and even Todd and Gail most recently, but now, we get to see how no one in the group is unimportant. Everyone does their part to do a great thing for someone after Carol nudges them out of the door, and this leads to an episode that’s mostly less dark than the rest of Season Two’s offerings, but one that still works incredibly well.
When it comes time for the group exchange, we see the surprisingly inspired gifts that everyone comes up with. Erica gives Carol a seat from the Oprah show, along with a J.Lo dress, Melissa gives Todd a prom king sash, with increasing hints that she’s reconsidering breaking up with him, and Gail gives other Phil a wicker ball off of the table, since she hates that Phil, and couldn’t be bothered to get him an actual gift. A surprisingly sweet scene then happens between Erica and the other Phil, when other Phil builds Erica an ultrasound machine to see her baby with, even if it leads to original Phil being annoyed that the gift wasn’t the Hope Diamond, as he intended.
The funniest scene here however definitely came courtesy of original Phil, who claimed to draw his own name after swapping with the other Phil, and reveals that he gave himself the gift of Pit Bull’s yacht. When the group excitedly thinks about partying on the yacht together, Phil then blows it up to amuse himself, as his real gift. This was definitely one of the episode’s most hilarious jokes, and it feels like a great, “Classic Phil” moment. We also got some funny bits with how the group is dealing with the Holiday season in their own way, especially with Carol going so overboard on them. Carol tries to talk to Melissa about the importance of Secret Santa, the two Phil’s go out for a completely dark and silent night of drinks (in another of the episode’s best jokes), and Todd and Gail are even shown coordinating, “Errands” so they can move around the house and sneak a single kiss with each other. All of the humour and fun just really worked in this episode. Everything came together to give the show outstanding energy and heart, and prove that even the apocalypse can’t touch the ultimate joy and fellowship of Christmas amongst family units!
The real highlight scenes however were saved until the episode’s final moments, where a series of bombs were dropped, as we wait for next week’s midseason finale. To start, Melissa, after seeing Erica in the ultrasound machine, gets down on one knee, and asks Todd to marry her, now that she’s changed her mind about wanting children. Todd doesn’t have time to answer however, as the other Phil suddenly collapses in a fit of pain, as everyone rushes over to see what’s wrong. Lastly, Mike, after ejecting what he believes to be the last of his worms, prepares to commit suicide by launching himself out of the airlock, but quickly sees a worm that he failed to notice, and frantically attempts to abort. The abort fails however, and Mike is launched into space, right as the episode ends!
“Secret Santa” kept the darker comedy firmly reserved for Mike’s plot, but even with the world being dead, the group effectively found joy in the presence of each other, and their equally thoughtful and eccentric gifts. In their own way, this bunch is effectively managing to eke out a living, and the Holiday magic felt alive and well this week, even with the rest of the world being gone in The Last Man on Earth. We have one episode left to cap off the front half of Season Two next week, as Christmas proper dawns on post-apocalyptic Malibu, but if it can keep this great momentum going, The Last Man on Earth will close out its Sunday run for this season on an equally festive, and heartwarming note!
The Last Man on Earth absolutely nailed the first of its two Christmas-themed episodes this week, as we once again wonderfully explore the group's family dynamic, while Mike takes a big step into foreign territory, albeit unwillingly!
THE GOOD STUFF
The equally ridiculous and heartwarming gift exchange