NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Last Man on Earth” are present in this review
Building on the positive relationship steps taken in last week’s episode, The Last Man on Earth put character relationships to another test this week. “Mama’s Hideaway” was all about appreciating those you love, after last week’s events were all about not giving up on one’s chance at happiness, and this mostly came courtesy of two solid core plots between Carol and Gail, and Todd and Melissa.
After Carol successfully got Gail to sign unofficial adoption papers in the previous episode, Carol has since responded to that victory by constantly getting in Gail’s face about arbitrary family-related demands. Carol even gets Phil in on these shenanigans, leading to Gail going to gradually greater lengths to move away from Phil and Carol as much as possible. Carol’s comedic brilliance was wonderfully on point this week, as Kristen Schaal stole a big chunk of this episode with her increasingly ludicrous tactics to try and make Gail a model spiritual mother, namely by trying to take a clothing-coordinated family photo with her and Phil, despite Gail refusing to match clothes with other people in a photograph.
Carol getting a valuable lesson in personal space when Phil eventually annoys her in regards to another subplot was a satisfying enough result to begin with, and one that the show built up to smartly, though all the better was Gail getting her own dose of just desserts. The show avoided painting either woman as being fully in the right, though it was Gail that seemed to receive harsher karma, as an attempt to find a new hideaway eventually leads to her being trapped in a de-powered elevator. The episode even leaves her there at the end too, which is fairly hair-raising! The fact that The Last Man on Earth is taking a week off as well, and won’t be back until December, made this surprise turn work all the better.
Gail’s unfortunate luck was nicely woven in with another event that was cleverly foreshadowed throughout the episode, when the building’s electricity once again becomes unreliable. This time, Carol isn’t behind it, leading to Lewis and Phil eventually discovering that everyone is overloading the power. This has the two inadvertently de-powering the adjacent building that Gail tried to hide in, in turn leading to her horrible predicament. Despite Lewis mostly being in the background this week, the show did find clever ways to work him in to both main storylines, not only by his being party to Gail being trapped, but also in Melissa approaching Lewis off-screen to impregnate her.
That’s the foundation of this episode’s other major plot; Melissa really aggressively clamouring for a baby now, with anyone. This was certainly the more dramatic of the two storylines, as Melissa breaks up with Todd fairly early on in the episode, leaving Todd desperate to try and repair the relationship so that he can help Melissa rebuild her psychology. The joke of Phil getting strangely jealous about Melissa approaching him after she approached Lewis worked to somewhat mixed effect, especially since Phil turns her down as well, and is fully aware that Lewis is gay, but the emotional impact with Todd telling Melissa that he loves her and wants to help her, only to have Melissa push him away, complemented the Gail/Carol conflict very nicely.
The big sticking point to this otherwise great episode was the fact that Erica is once again becoming pushed aside. The episode finding clever uses for all of the core cast didn’t extend to Erica, as she was once again left to simply bumble around and be a spectator to everyone else’s more interesting storylines. Erica commenting through tears that she thinks it’s beautiful that Lewis is trying to learn to fly in a flight simulator so that he can try and find his lost partner in Tokyo was about all she did this week, beyond singing some karaoke with Phil and Lewis too. Really? The show couldn’t have brought Erica into the Carol/Gail conflict of mothers and daughters? That seems like a considerable missed opportunity.
The surprise twist of Melissa leaving the doll she was pretending was her baby with a goodbye note for the survivors was another strong way to end this episode though, especially as it plays alongside Gail screaming for help in the elevator. “Mama’s Hideaway” continued to move along the show’s ensemble arcs fairly well, even if Erica was once again ignored in a pretty unfair way, and the way that everything ended with surprisingly hair-raising stakes for some of the survivors was equally effective. Fans will have to stew on both Gail and Melissa being separated from the group for an additional week now, and neither are in a good place to boot. Given how Season Two’s midseason finale ended, hopefully another major tragedy doesn’t strike the survivors later in December!
- Carol and Gail getting hard lessons in having someone around
- Todd losing his remaining relationship with Melissa
- Melissa abandoning everyone out of nowhere
- Erica is once again pushed aside
- Phil being jealous of Lewis doesn't really work