The Last Man on Earth 2×14 ‘Skidmark’: The butt of the joke

Mike Phil

Imagine spending three years in space. During that time, you watch your fellow astronauts die, hear that everyone you know and love on Earth is dying from a virus, and spend most of your time in isolation. You survive by talking to worms and hoping that someone, anyone is out there. Secretly, even though you know it’s a slim possibility, you hope that maybe your family is still alive.

And then, a miracle happens. You summon up all your courage and despite all odds, find a way back to Earth. You face a mentally disturbed survivor, realize that your home has changed irrevocably, and still continue hoping that your family is alive. Your hope is rewarded when you find a series of clues leading you to the location of your sibling. You travel hundreds of miles to find them, culminating in a miracle. Somehow, out of the billions that died, your sibling survived and is one of the last people on the planet. You two still have some issues to work out, but you’re both together. You’re both alive.

Do you A) Attempt to work out your issues and get a fresh start with your sibling? Or B) Attempt for to work out your issues for a second and then promptly go back to mocking your sibling, just like old times?

If you answered B, congratulations, your name is Mike Miller and you’re kind of a jerk.

For most of the second season, the audience has followed Mike through the trials of surviving alone in space, to crash landing back on Earth and seeing the toll the virus took on the planet. We’ve watched him contemplate suicide, befriend worms, and attempt to make a new start in his post-virus life. After watching him through all his darkest moments, it seems odd that he would show up in Tandy’s new life and begin to undermine him.

Source: Fox

Source: Fox

From Mike’s time on the space station to his search for his family, Phil has been the person we’ve seen Mike miss the most. He named his worm (his only friend) after his brother, and hallucinated Phil when Mike needed motivation. His appearance in Malibu and plea to mend fences was sweet, only to be diminished by his constant picking on Phil. You can argue that he’s falling back into old habits, and doesn’t really understand how unhappy he’s making his brother. But Tandy makes it obvious that he’s uncomfortable with Mike’s jokes, that he feels left-out due to Mike’s behavior, and it seems odd for Mike not to pick up on that.

Even more irritating than Mike’s behavior is Phil attempting to be better than his brother. We’ve had numerous iterations of Tandy trying to win over the Tucson crew, and then resorting to underhanded behavior. I understand most of the situations in this show need to derive from group comedy, but it’s getting hard to watch everyone barely stand Tandy. The show needs to give him a win, because it’s getting irritating to watch the same plot being recycled so many times.

I don’t want to make it sound as though I hated the episode, because I didn’t. There were good points: Carol getting tipsy, Todd’s subplot, etc. There were a lot of great things about this episode. But Mike and Phil’s behavior overshadowed it all. In the end, I’m just disappointed at how standard this whole plot feels. I would have expected a more clever turn from this show.

Notes and Observations

  • Even though his character is a jerk, Jason Sudeikis continues to be a delight. It’s no wonder all the Malibu crew (sans Tandy) all go gaga for Mike.
  • Carol on Mike’s addition to the group: “It looks like our family’s already growing. I always planned it’d be with a baby instead of an adult man, but, wow, God’s plan, you know?”
  • Melissa tosses dishes out of the window instead of cleaning them, continuing to be my hero.
  • Carol and Tandy continue to be the best couple on television, with Carol reassuring Tandy that she loves him even though he’s infertile, and later giving him advice to apologize to his brother.
  • Best joke of the episode: Gail rolling out a huge wine cask for Mike’s bonfire.

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