I’ve been waiting all week for the season finale of The Last Man on Earth. The stakes were as high as they’ve ever been – Mike had caught the virus and fled in order to protect the Tucson crew. I thought it was the last we would see of him, but the show (and Tandy) refused to let Mike go without a proper goodbye. I should have expected that Tandy wouldn’t let Mike leave so easily. He follows him back to their childhood home, where Mike has resigned himself to waiting until the virus kills him.
It’s odd seeing the brothers in their parents’ house, and it’s probably one of the closest things we’ve gotten to a flashback this season. We’ve never seen much of Tandy’s pre-virus life – the most we’ve ever saw was his apartment (which he quickly ditched) and a wordless birthday flashback in the pilot. So to see a home that was a major part of Tandy’s life before the virus hit is a huge reveal. It also shows what Tandy went through when the virus appeared, and changed his life forever.
Before the virus, Tandy had very little responsibility and worries. Once it hit, he suddenly had to bury his parents, give up his brother as lost to space, and search for survivors. He essentially restarted humanity by creating a community of survivors, found the love of his life, and is now going to be the father of one of the first children born in the post-virus world. He’s still immature at times and socially awkward, but Tandy has become an unlikely leader in this new world.
The wonderful thing about The Last Man on Earth is that it doesn’t try to conform its characters to post-apocalyptic archetypes. Tandy is not a miraculous hero, waiting simply for extraordinary circumstances to show his natural leadership capabilities. He’s just a guy, who is thrust into an awful situation and tries his hardest to survive. He’s not a natural leader at all, but ends up having to take the position anyway. He screws up a lot, because that’s human nature. That’s everyone in the show.
Nobody would have the chosen the Tucson crew to be the survivors of this world. They’ve all messed up, they aren’t prepared for the challenges ahead, and none of them have the skills to survive. (Interestingly, the ones who would be best equipped to survive in this new world – Phil 2 with his survival experience and Mike with his scientific skills – die.) There’s a feeling of randomness to the life of the Tucson crew. There’s no reason they were kept alive, no secret abilities that made them unique and able to survive in this world. They just happened to be immune. What was the point of having Mike survive in space, and then reunite with his long-lost brother, only to make him die weeks after their reunion? There’s no point. That’s just the way this world works – it’s random and cruel.
Yet somehow, the Tucson crew have survived. Sure, they’re broken and traumatized by their experiences, but they’ve found the courage to keep moving on. Tandy’s found love in this new world, and the crew have found a family in each other. An awkward, weird family that’s stuck together because they’ve got nowhere else to go, but still a family. The Tucson crew have shown that they can survive traumatic, difficult experiences. This is good, because some major problems are coming for them.
First, Tandy has to deal with the grief of leaving his brother to his almost certain death. Yes, it was Mike’s dying wish for Tandy to leave him, but it still doesn’t make it any easier. That shot of Mike standing alone next to his house, except for the sports balls, is heartbreaking. He’s going to die alone, having sent away his only source of comfort. But even though Tandy is not there to see Mike die, he’ll still carry the grief and guilt with him.
Then there’s the even bigger problem – other survivors have found the Tucson crew, and they do not look friendly. The post-virus world has played with everyone’s mind. It turned the crew a little batty, and drove Pat towards instability. Unfortunately for everyone, it’s Pat who has shown up on the Tucson crew’s doorstep, armed and with fellow survivors. We’ve already seen, through his interactions with Mike in “Pitch Black”, that Pat cannot be reasoned with. Now we’ve got two groups of survivors, the Tucson crew and Pat’s group, and I doubt they’ll get along. Season 3 is going to be interesting.
Notes and Observations
- I’ve been humming “Falling Slowly” for the past week while waiting for this episode. So, thanks for that, TLMOE.
- Also, I can’t believe a show that did a haircut montage to “Falling Slowly” makes me want to cry at times. Seriously though, when Tandy gave the sports ball friends to Mike, I actually shed a few tears.
- Carol’s names for their future baby: Yorbalinda or Bezequiel. My guess? They’ll actually name the baby Mike.
- Tandy tries to give the sex talk to their unborn child. That might be a little bit too early, Tandy.
- I love that the discovery of the drone only means to Gail that she can drink again.
- I love the reveal of Melissa being in the stocks, along with Carol’s casual explanation: “She tried to shoot me.”
- I think we all need to, once again, acknowledge how awesome Carol is. She’s a kind, loving woman who is determined to make a good world for her child, who reacts with compassion firstly, and who knows how to cheer Tandy up even when he’s in a dark place.
- Since it’s the season finale of the show, I’m going list my favorite moments of the season: Carol and Tandy’s road trip, Mike’s entire storyline, anything and everything associated with Gail, Todd’s freak-out on the jet ski, and the Christmas episodes, with Carol’s insane decorating and Phil 2’s appendicitis.
- That’s the season finale review of The Last Man on Earth! I hope to see you guys for season 3. I cannot wait to see what the show has in store for its audience.