NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Last Man on Earth” are present in this review
The Last Man on Earth seems to be in that awkward period of having to lay the groundwork for the season’s climax over the next few weeks, which seems to be slightly coming at the expense of current story developments. Mind you, “Name 20 Picnics… Now!” was still a pretty good episode, which at least managed to carry itself on several funny and effective comedic foundations, but it is noticeably beneath the standard of most of Season Three at the same time.
The core storyline of the episode involves the group realizing that Jasper has had to spend years alone, and has been almost entirely robbed of his childhood at this point. This motivates Carol to come up with the idea of throwing a huge party to give Jasper exposure to every major holiday, birthday party and other such special occasion that he would have missed. Erica also gets involved in the idea, alongside a slightly annoyed Gail, in turn provoking insecurity from Carol after Erica reveals that her baby bump is beginning to show.
This idea of a Carol/Erica baby bump rivalry is a good one, and Carol’s expected awkwardness and jealousy about the situation leads to some reliably strong laughs. The problem however is that this idea seems to be lost in the shuffle of two other big story ideas, which ultimately leads to the episode feeling a little scattered. Granted, it is nice to have Carol eventually come out and admit that she has her own parenting fears, going along with Phil’s recent admitted insecurities to that effect, only this time, Carol is worried about miscarrying. Sadly, Erica can’t confirm that this won’t happen, but it really felt like this promising story idea needed more fleshing out. It just felt awkwardly tossed into an episode that had too much going on.
Amidst the chaos of planning a big party for Jasper, Phil and Todd also find themselves in conflict with each other, when Phil begins to remark that Melissa should stay away from the party. Todd has no idea how much medicine to give to Melissa, so she just shambles around the place, glazed over and zombified, which Phil thinks is scaring Jasper. Todd takes offense to Phil’s suggestion that Melissa should be kept away from Jasper’s party, with Phil saying that he needs to look out for his surrogate son. Uh, what? Granted, Phil is extremely thick-headed, but did he forget about Jasper choosing Erica as his surrogate parent not one episode ago?
Actually, considering Erica’s big new connection with Jasper, the episode barely touched on this in the end. Instead, Erica was placed more as a foil to Carol and a tag-along with Gail, rather than anchoring the situation with Jasper properly. This was a big missed opportunity, even if Erica did at least get to be present during the big multi-occasion-themed party, which was easily the episode’s funniest and most memorable moment overall. At the very least, seeing Phil and Carol overdo it in gaudy costumes can always be trusted to deliver hysterical humour!
After Todd crashes the party with Melissa however, a climax of sorts ensues, as Phil and Todd decide to fight outside. This doesn’t last terribly long, since Phil naturally sucks at fighting, but before Todd can seriously lay the hurt on his friend, the group hears police sirens. Turns out, Melissa and Jasper have discovered that playing with a police siren is funny, and this allows them to bond with each other for the first time. Both Phil and Todd bearing witness to Jasper and Melissa alike smiling and laughing together for the first time was a really sweet way to tie everything up at the end, effectively motivating Phil and Todd to forgive each other soon afterward, since both of their fears were unfounded. Another very real threat might be around the corner though, as a satellite drops out of the sky and onto a nearby store, right as the episode ends. Considering how many, “Shooting stars” the group is seeing beforehand as well, it looks like unmanned satellites are soon going to become a huge problem for the survivors in the season’s climax!
“Name 20 Picnics… Now!” felt like a bit of a filler episode for The Last Man on Earth, as if the season has reached capacity for its ideas, and is simply wanting to stall until the two-episode season finale in a couple of weeks. We only have next week’s episode to go before that, so hopefully we at least get some more amusing moments there, before Season Three wraps up at the start of May. The show’s humour is still effectively on-point at the very least, but it’s too bad that this episode’s good ideas are being tossed right at the end of the season, where they just aren’t getting enough time to properly develop. The falling satellite issue will probably interrupt any real character conflicts before long as well, not to mention that Kristen Wiig’s Pamela is still out there somewhere, likely leaving fans to simply hope that The Last Man on Earth gets renewed for Season Four soon, so they can once again look forward to meatier story hooks.
- The hilarious and gaudy multi-holiday party
- Amusing side moments with the women
- Melissa and Jasper managing to bond at the end
- Carol's baby bump insecurities aren't developed enough
- Nothing is being done with Erica becoming Jasper's surrogate mother yet