NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Last Man on Earth” are present in this review
The Last Man on Earth got very emotional for its midseason finale this week, though unlike the tension-filled midseason finale of last season, there was a healthy dose of positive emotion to offset the negative emotion. The conclusion of the episode still felt fairly gloomy, especially with a shocking, yet seemingly inevitable apparent twist with at least one ongoing story arc, though all in all, the combination of happiness and sadness leaves The Last Man on Earth going very strong before it goes on hiatus until 2017.
The episode’s main plot revolves around Phil trying to cheer up Carol, who is still dwelling on Todd telling her that she drove Gail away. Phil decides to take Carol on a camping trip to make her happier, which involves recreating how they first met at the end of this show’s pilot episode. It’s a cute and funny diversion that effectively shows Phil’s more considerate side. It also leads into a fairly uplifting turn, when Phil’s oblivious effort to try and make Carol fish a present out of a lake ends up yielding an actual fish!
According to Carol, just about all of the world’s fish were killed by the virus, so the sighting of an actual, living fish is something that gets both Phil and Carol very excited. They get so excited in fact that they end up having sex in the nearby camper, which gives us a hysterical throwback to Carol’s bizarre sex habits from earlier in the series, a joke that The Last Man on Earth has left fairly dormant lately. When the two come back however, they find the fish dead, and attempt to bury it… Until it’s just not dead in the end. This was the one sour note in a great midseason finale, with the fish fake-out feeling cheap and lame, especially in an episode that already isn’t wanting for good drama. Nonetheless, it’s promising to see Phil and Carol dump the fish in their inflatable pool back at the building, likely as a new pet to replace the missing cow for the season’s back half in 2017.
The other major plot in this episode centered on Melissa, whose diminishing mental state has Erica and Lewis very concerned, and wanting to shut her away. Todd tries to come to Melissa’s defense, offering to watch her, though when Melissa escapes again and winds up on the roof, seemingly about to kill herself, Todd is forced to acknowledge the horrible truth. After coaxing Melissa down from the roof, Todd has to lock her in a room with a two-way mirror, listening to Melissa angrily bang on the locked door, while being unable to do anything for her.
Todd finally having to face Melissa’s growing insanity was a great bittersweet moment for the episode, since Todd is still committing to doing what’s best for Melissa, even if he had to come around and realize that he can’t defend her anymore. This also contrasted well with Erica starting to join Lewis in the flight simulator, and helping to see Lewis into successfully landing the virtual plane. I still think that Erica is getting the shaft too much on this show, especially since the series seems to have entirely forgotten about both her and Carol’s pregnancies for now, but the idea of having her strike up a friendship with Lewis has some decent promise, since Lewis doesn’t seem to have any other tight-knit allies at this point.
This just leaves the Gail plot, with Gail still being trapped in the same elevator. Once again, it’s amazing how much mileage this show has gotten out of constraining Gail to one out-of-the-way location, with no one else to play off of. This time, Gail tries to attach a note to the nearby roomba, though this plan quickly fails. In a fit of frustration, Gail then shoots several bullets, though a ricochet ends up hitting her in the leg. Weakened, desperate, and with seemingly no other option, the episode’s final minutes have Gail loading one additional bullet into the gun, then as the camera zooms out, a shot firing is perceived, and then credits. Whoa… That got dark. Well, supposedly. It’s too early to wear our funeral veils for Gail, since she may not have actually killed herself, possibly taking another random shot to signal the rest of the survivors instead. Considering that the other Phil Miller died at the end of last season’s midseason finale though, Gail’s fate is very uncertain. This is a pretty big cliffhanger ending that was executed well, and it’s this story element that will no doubt have fans of this show nicely buzzing throughout The Last Man on Earth’s Winter hiatus.
“If You’re Happy and You Know It” is a very strong midseason finale for The Last Man on Earth, which delivered very clever and satisfying storylines for pretty much all of the lead characters. The humour remained sharp for the most part, though if anything is going to be remembered from this episode, it’s definitely going to be the very real possibility that Gail may have committed suicide in that elevator. That would certainly have The Last Man on Earth picking up on a very impactful note in 2017, though by the same token, it also might be a diminishing return to have the show kill off a lead character for the midseason finale two years in a row. Fortunately, the discovery of living fish should help keep the survivors hopeful in 2017, even if the show once again didn’t waste an opportunity to take time off on a pretty heavy note.
- Phil's sweet camping trip with Carol
- Todd having to face the truth about Melissa
- Gail potentially taking her own life
- Fish fake-out is lame