The very best thing about The Last Man on Earth’s second season is Phil’s character change. In the first season he was selfish, only thinking about his own happiness and putting his needs first. It was a joke that got old really quickly, especially considering the circumstances. When you’re part of the last people on Earth, you need to think about others to survive. Luckily Carol changed everything: suddenly he has someone else’s happiness to think about. Carol, as Phil acknowledges, makes him a better man. Last night’s episode was concrete proof of this.
The biggest change to season two is that Phil recognizes that he’s not always the hero of the story. Whenever he screwed up in season one, he would try to twist the story so that his actions (even when they were deplorable) always seemed sympathetic and he deserved whatever he selfishly wanted. This season Phil knows that he can sometimes be a screw-up, and that his actions can be harmful. “I let down everyone I care about. I deserve this! I deserve to be alone!” It might be a bit of an overreaction, but at least Phil now knows that he isn’t perfect and makes mistakes.
Phil’s greatest fear is being alone. He’s experienced it several times through the series: when he thought he was truly the last man on earth, when he got kicked out of the Tucson crew, and now when he thinks he’s lost Carol forever. It’s what motivates him to fall back into his old selfish habits to keep Carol from figuring out the Tucson group has gone to Malibu. But he loves Carol so much that once he realizes she won’t be happy unless she finds her friends, he gives her the note. Heck, even when she says they don’t need to go to Malibu (sometimes season one Phil would have rejoiced over), he still wants to go.
While I was initially irritated at Phil hiding the Tucson crew’s note from Carol, I’m actually glad they put it in the episode. Phil is making huge steps at self-improvement, it would be almost unrealistic if he didn’t fall back into old habits every once and awhile. It also helped that he figured out he was wrong in the same episode, instead of stretching his mistake out.
I honestly have no clue what’s going to happen from here. The Tucson group hates Phil, and they have pretty good reasons to. They haven’t been privy to all the progress he’s made, and even if Carol does tell them how Phil’s changed, it’ll still hard for them to trust him. Of course, there’s always the alternative – that Carol and Phil will leave the group again and have their own adventures. It looks fairly possible, with Carol accidentally killing the newest member of the group, Gordon (Will Ferrell in a cameo). Whether they stay with the group or venture out on their own, I’m excited to see what the future holds for this couple.
Notes and Observations
- I’m not sure which is funnier: Phil trying to use balloons to find Carol, or Carol trying to light flares to help Phil figure out where she is. Even better is that both of these plans fail within the first ten seconds.
- Also in failed plans: Phil trying to use a steamroller to find Carol, only to have it crush Brice (his soccer ball friend) and promptly crash into a sign.
- I’m with Phil on the burning of his house: there were a lot of historical artifacts in there. I mean, why didn’t the Tucson crew clear out his house of anything valuable before burning it? There was some really awesome stuff in there they could have taken!
- Darkest joke of the ep.: Phil attempting to show a California beach to Carol, only for them to discover several dead, beached whales on shore.
- I loved Carol attempting to distract herself while waiting for Phil to come back to the gas station. Part of me wonders if they didn’t just give Kirstin Schaal a bunch of props and say “Improv whatever you want.”