NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “The Last Man on Earth” are present in this review
The Last Man on Earth presented a pretty great season finale this week, as, “30 Years of Science Down the Tubes” forced Phil to confront the fact that Mike is going to be gone, and there’s nothing that he can do about it… Mostly.
As much as this was a strong season finale for the show, one that had a solid mix of humour and tragedy, especially compared to the weaker penultimate episode from last week, it felt like the show’s half-hour length somewhat hamstrung the drama with Phil and Mike. Phil finds Mike in Tucson right away, with no hassle, and the two share a sweet moment where Mike finishes cutting Phil’s hair and beard, making him look a lot more normal… Which is then interrupted by Mike suddenly flipping out at Phil, calling him childish, and then saying that he’s a loser that never amounted to anything until almost everyone in the world died. Ouch.
This might have been a tragic way for Mike to force Phil back to Malibu to be with everyone else, and had the show gone all the way with this, it would have really made for an especially memorable, bittersweet farewell between the brothers. Unfortunately though, Mike does ultimately wimp out of this approach when Phil doesn’t leave, flat out admitting that he only said those hurtful things to try and push Phil away, before he learns that Phil had to bury their parents after the virus first hit. Again, this is a pretty effective morose moment for Phil, who has to prepare to bury another family member now, but the show doesn’t linger on it for very long, before motivating Phil to leave of his own accord.
Yes, we don’t see Mike actually perish, despite the show playing with viewers’ expectations a bit in this regard, and having Phil stumble upon a seemingly dead Mike, before Mike shouts and scares him as a prank. It’s pretty likely that Mike won’t last much longer though, and some viewers might feel that the show ultimately wimped out of going all the way with the tragedy behind Mike’s character. Still, I get why Mike’s death wasn’t shown, since it does give FOX a bit of wiggle room in case they ever want Jason Sudeikis to return to the show in the future. He is an awesome presence, and if the show can find a good excuse to sidestep the whole apparent virus issue, I’d be all for a return by Sudeikis in a future season.
As for what’s going on back in Malibu, everyone bears witness to the mysterious drone this time, initially glimpsed by Gail a couple of episodes ago. Everyone ponders what it is, but Melissa’s the one to actually take action, as she grabs a shotgun and blows the gizmo to hell! Melissa’s been a bit of a floater character this season, and one that’s largely defined by the other personalities, but it was fun to see her be the voice of panic and aggression in this season finale, especially after the other Phil Miller’s death hinted at her having a bit of an angry side.
By the time Phil gets back, the drone’s apparent user has made himself known, as a boat drifts to the shore, where we glimpse Mark Boone Jr.’s mysterious survivor from the midseason premiere! Apparently, he somehow found his way to Phil’s crew in Malibu, and he also happens to have two other people in HAZMAT suits begin to approach them. The season then ends with Phil saying, “Ohhh, farts!” Are these survivors going to be bad people? Mark Boone Jr.’s personality was definitely questionable back when he met Mike, but either way, it will be fun to explore some new personalities coming to this show’s very small cast. Even if these guys do turn out to be bad news, showcasing a more dangerous side of the post-apocalyptic world of The Last Man on Earth might be a good direction for Season Three later this year.
“30 Years of Science Down the Tubes” did a fine job of concluding the primary story arc for most of Season Two’s back half, that being the ups and downs of Phil and Mike’s reunion. While the resolution to the Phil/Mike farewell felt a little too gentle at times, and we don’t actually see Mike die, contrary to speculation, the season finale’s jokes and sadness both worked in equal measure. It’s tough to see Jason Sudeikis go, even if it may not be permanent in the future, but the coming of new survivors, possibly with ill intentions, makes up for that by presenting an exciting cliffhanger for the end of the season. Everyone that Phil has met has been friendly so far, but really, how long can that last in a post-pandemic world that’s almost entirely dead?
- Phil and Mike's big emotional scenes
- Melissa's trigger-happy problem-solving
- New and mostly unknown survivors reaching Malibu
- The Phil/Mike farewell sometimes pulls it punches