NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “The Last Man on Earth” are present in this review
The Last Man on Earth has generally done pretty well since Mike properly joined the lead characters, but this week’s episode, “Falling Slowly”, felt like a rather considerable speed bump. The jokes were rather hit-or-miss this week, and on top of that, while the episode’s end result was satisfying and unexpected for multiple characters, most of the lead-in to that exciting ending was made up of filler material and flimsy writing.
Regardless, Phil and Mike have now ended their feud, and it turns out that they’re even more annoying when they’re on good terms, compared to when they’re fighting. After constantly singing, “Falling Slowly” on a karaoke machine for no discernable reason, in the first of several running gags in this episode that didn’t really land, Phil lets slip to Mike that he’s never told Carol that he loves her.
This was kind of an interesting revelation, and ties back to Phil being more apprehensive to spiritually marry Carol earlier in the series. Mike, naturally, pressures Phil to tell Carol that he loves her, though this is shortly before Phil finds out that Carol has asked Todd to have sex with her, so she can get pregnant. After some brief hesitation, Phil eventually decides to go along with this, and allows Carol to spiritually divorce him and spiritually marry Todd, in a surprisingly ornate, Carol-approved beach ceremony.
This middle stretch is where the episode gets very confused and uneven in terms of its humour and storytelling. Despite raising a stink about Mike being the one to impregnate Carol mere moments before, Phil suddenly changes his mind during the fake wedding, and allows Mike to take Todd’s place. This blatantly upsets Todd, who angrily dances by himself during the fake reception, and while Phil detects hostility, Todd doesn’t admit to it for some reason. Um, why?
Todd’s character suffered quite a lot this week, since there just wasn’t much rhyme or reason to his character or his actions in this episode. The show barely acknowledges Todd’s relationship with Gail and Melissa beyond a throwaway gag during the wedding, and Todd being upset over not being able to have sex with Carol doesn’t make much sense. The show tries to portray the hostility as coming from Phil choosing his actual brother over Todd in the eleventh hour, but Phil never originally signed off on Carol approaching Todd anyway, and really, how does Phil wanting to stay in his gene pool affect Todd? Did Todd really want to have sex with Carol that badly, especially when he’s already sleeping with both Gail and Melissa right now?
Another character that’s been suffering in general lately is Erica, who feels like she’s been pretty much pushed into the background at this point, despite already being the pregnant woman in the group. The way that this episode ends makes that all the more apparent, and leaves Erica with very little to do on the show that stands out at this point. Maybe the show will find some other turn for Erica’s character in Season Three, but now that the other Phil is dead, it feels like the series just doesn’t know what to do with Erica’s character for now.
Gail’s drinking also sort of comes to the fore this week, when Melissa starts commenting that Gail is drinking rather early, but that’s about all we hear of it. Gail winding the clock forward and leaving is kind of funny, and seeing her drink out of a super straw while being approached by a mysterious drone is a pretty cool tease for the next episode, but not much else happens with her either. It’s well and good if the episode wants to focus purely on Carol’s surprise pregnancy this week, but there were lots of missed opportunities with the dynamic between Todd, Gail and Melissa, or Erica’s identity as the group’s first mother, as a result.
Some of the humour with Phil insisting on being in the room while Mike has sex with Carol, and Carol being predictably awkward while having sex with Mike, was kind of funny, though it’s soon interrupted by Phil getting jealous, and blurting out that he loves Carol. While this is kind of sweet, it yet again makes Phil come off as a flighty, childish buffoon, who didn’t say it because he feels it, but said it as a way to assert dominance over his brother. That’s really lame, and despite Carol being happy about the declaration, she really deserved a better way to hear the words for the first time.
That said, it might have been good timing for Phil to finally tell Carol that he loves her, since Carol looks at an ovulation test the next morning, or so it appears. Erica points out that the test is actually a pregnancy test, and that Carol is actually pregnant! Yes, somehow, Phil did the deed, even if it was kind of amusing to have him stupidly think that Mike impregnated Carol somehow, despite the two never getting started with Phil right next to them. Like I said though, now that Carol is pregnant, this further diminishes Erica’s current identity in the group. Where will her character go from here? Sure, the idea of Phil and Carol being parents has lots of comedic promise, but where does that leave Erica and her baby?
There’s a couple of episodes left in Season Two, so we still have time to really close out this current season of The Last Man on Earth on a great note, but sadly, the show really seemed to stumble this week. “Falling Slowly” wasn’t entirely unfunny by any means, but its humour was a bit weaker than the past several weeks, and its storytelling was often pretty suspect. The show is presenting more than one exciting lead-in to the season’s final two episodes, which will pick up after the series takes a week off next week, but hopefully those episodes go back to the proper humour and cleverness that we can expect from this show.
- Interesting relationship quirk coming up for Phil
- Effectively awkward Mike/Carol sex scene
- Carol becoming pregnant, against the odds
- Weird, uneven humour
- Todd conflict feels limp and underutilized
- Erica is completely sidelined at this point