The Last Man on Earth 2×12 ‘Valhalla’: Mad with grief

Tucson Crew

The Last Man on Earth is a show inherently centered around death. Our cast of characters has endured losing the world they knew, as well as their friends and family. It makes sense that any little bit of death would hurt them immensely. The specter of Phil’s death looms over ever single character in “Valhalla”, driving characters to act out in increasingly extreme ways.

The most extreme, of course, is Tandy. He’s torn between giving Phil the goodbye he never had with his brother, and hating Phil for making his last words a plea to not let Tandy raise his child. Phil tolerated Tandy right before he died, but that doesn’t translate into the affection and respect that Tandy wanted. It’s a gut punch to hear that he didn’t want Tandy raising his child, but as the episode wears on, you understand where Phil was coming from. Sure, Tandy is full of good intentions, but he’s still not rational enough to help raise a child. This is a guy who, after being informed he cannot help raise a baby, sits in a vodka pool shooting arrows at a stuffed figure of Phil.

Source: Fox

Source: Fox

Of course, none of the other Tucson crew members can be counted on to be rational either. Melissa is having a long-coming meltdown over Phil’s death and the failure of her relationship with Todd. Gail is trying to drink and seduce her way through her failure to save Phil. Todd is just trying to keep his sanity as he tries to help both women. It’s clearly not an easy situation to be caught in – his attempts to make both women happy leads to making everything worse. Now Carol is furious with Todd, something that does not bode well for him. Carol loves deeply, so anyone that hurts those she’s cared for is in a world of trouble.

While this episode was fun, it was a slight let-down that, in terms of the plot, felt all over the place. This might be because the previous two episodes were some of the best the show has ever done, with the focus in those episodes being a common goal: trying to save Phil, and then Mike trying to figure out what has happened on Earth. It gave all the characters something to center around. This episode, they are arguably all connected by grief, but their plots are disjointed and separate. We bounce from Tandy’s grieving process to Todd dealing with his relationships, with Carol and Erica showing up from time to time to comment on the proceedings.

While it makes for a scattered episode, it’s a good metaphor for where our characters are. Before Phil’s death, they were a relatively happy group of friends, finally making amends and dealing with some relationship issues. Now that Phil’s dead, those friendships have been lost. Grief is destroying the unity among the Tucson crew, and that can only be bad.

Notes and Observations

  • Gail pouring the wine into the Big Gulp cup was the biggest laugh of the night for me.
  • It’s a lot of fun seeing January Jones finally get to be goofy. She was the straight man for so long on this show that seeing her drunkenly whack ornaments with a baseball bat and pick off sequins with her teeth is an unexpected delight.
  • Awww, Tandy misses his brother. Part of me wonders if we won’t see Mike Miller at the end of the season, with his own pack of survivors.
  • I found it slightly odd that Carol didn’t really mourn Phil. Even though she loves Tandy, it’s still odd to see someone who so naturally cares for others not get upset over the death of an ex-boyfriend.
  • Also, props to Erica for holding it together in order to comfort Gail and Phil. Despite everything she’s been through, she’s really the most stable member of the group right now.

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