NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Last Man on Earth” are present in this review
Another survivor is hiding in the midst in this week’s episode of The Last Man on Earth, leading to the bulk of the group wanting to discover this mystery person’s identity. “Find This Thing We Need To” was another exemplary episode for the show this week, also providing an emotionally gratifying subplot with Todd and Gail, as they try to unearth a bit more of the mystery behind what’s wrong with Melissa.
The main plot of the episode begins with Carol showing everyone the picture of the mysterious Yoda that she accidentally caught in the background of the photo with herself and Gail. Phil and Erica decide to accompany Carol in trying to determine who the mystery person is, with Phil gaining a particular attachment to finding the mystery survivor. It was also nice to involve Erica in a major storyline for a change as well, something that The Last Man on Earth still routinely forgets to do far too often.
After Phil, Carol and Erica find their way to a mysterious cabin in the woods, which seems to be the home of the mystery survivor, Carol and Erica begin to theorize that the survivor is a little boy. This does seem to be the case, since, while the Yoda’s identity is being kept a mystery for now, it appears that child actor, Keith L. Williams is portraying him, according to the episode’s own credits. Phil, however, offers his own theory of the person possibly being a Benjamin Button-style old person in a young person’s body. This is fairly funny, though it is a bit unrealistically stupid, even for Phil. Why does Phil all of a sudden think that The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a true story?
Nonetheless, Phil ducking out of the van (which is humourously disguised in the same ghillie suit getup that Phil, Carol and Erica are as they creep around), led to an interesting moment of Phil taking charge, despite clearly not being the smart one in the group. From here, Phil spends all night trying to call out to the mystery person, opening his heart about his reaction to first meeting Carol, and how great she and the other survivors would be as a family. It’s not explicitly stated, but it’s very cleverly implied that Phil knows that the survivor is likely a child to some extent, and is probably airing quite a few anxieties about being a father in just under a year. This is especially true when you consider that Carol’s baby could very well be Mike’s, which the survivors obviously can’t disprove in any way. I suppose that Phil does get his wish in a way though, since, while he fails to attract the survivor out at first, the survivor stows away in the van as everyone prepares to drive back, with the three discovering him right as the episode ends! Naturally, next week’s episode is going to be all about revealing who this new character is, since it doesn’t seem to be Pamela, who is no doubt still out there.
Regarding the subplot with Todd and Gail, it was also pretty sublime, being a bit lighter on jokes, but still satisfying from a dramatic standpoint. The decision to shift Todd to being a more dramatic, emotionally grounded character this season has actually proved to be a very inspired idea, and Mel Rodriguez is quickly becoming the real heart of The Last Man on Earth in many respects, at least at this point. That was especially nicely spotlighted as Todd is supposed to be taking care of Gail, yet remains focused on helping Melissa most of all, to the point where he won’t even go to the adjacent building’s elevator to fetch Gail’s accordion.
Todd’s stubbornness with Gail leads to her tagging along to a pharmacy to try and hopelessly identify Melissa’s non-descript white pill, and shortly after, she ends up losing the pill, annoying Todd greatly. Resigned to hopelessness, Todd goes to fetch Gail’s accordion out of annoyance, and his reaction to seeing the true horror of what Gail went through in the elevator was nicely heartfelt. Not only does he bring back Gail’s accordion as a result, but also the dummy that Gail has pretended is Gordon, which led to a really great platonic bonding moment between these two, even beyond their history as a couple. They even manage to deduce that Melissa’s blabbering about, “Santa’s Penis”, is actually a clue about her medication, which appears to be anti-psychotic, Clozapine. For the first time in a while, the characters have taken a serious step closer to helping Melissa, even if they don’t quite know what’s wrong with her yet, even now.
Melissa is still a long way from recovery it seems, but the prospect of Phil, Carol and Erica bringing a child into the lead group is a very exciting one, especially since it will mix up the purely adult leads. “Find This Thing We Need To” was another standout episode of The Last Man on Earth that worked universally well, with its subplot also firing on all cylinders, as it led Todd and Gail be something other than an awkward couple, while also finally providing some real hope for Melissa getting better. Perhaps the introduction of a child survivor could even be the key to helping Melissa recover, since she seemed so intent on having a baby, to the point of even asking Phil to impregnate her! I’m still wondering how Pamela is eventually going to make her way to everyone, but for now, the expansion of the group is an exciting prospect, even if it’s not the survivor I would have expected to be joining everyone next.