The impeding prospect of children has hung over the characters on The Last Man On Earth for quite a while now. Both Erica and Carol are pregnant, and without a medical professional, the gang is woefully unprepared for deliveries, post-natal care, and other myriad problems that will inevitably arise. It’s information that the series mostly keeps in the background because it’s still a half-hour comedy and dwelling on the idea of bringing children into a post-apocalyptic world can be a bit of a downer. But now, LMOE has introduced its first child into the mix: Jasper, the young boy that was hiding in the woods in a Yoda costume.
Of course his name isn’t actually Jasper, but since the young boy can’t or won’t speak (Tandy sensitively says they might be dealing with “a deaf” or “a Nell”), the group lands on Jasper after Tandy notices he carries a JanSport backpack and free associates from there. The A-plot involves Tandy trying to force a bond between himself and Jasper because he feels a connection with the kid and to prove to everyone else that he can be a good caretaker. However, Jasper just doesn’t find him entertaining. Tandy tries to entice him with a Chocolate Fudge Sundae Pool (a kid-friendly counterpart to the Margarita Pool) but when that doesn’t work, Tandy tries giving him Gary, his volleyball friend that kept him company back when he really believed he was the last man on Earth. Unfortunately, Jasper doesn’t appreciate the gesture and throws Gary off the balcony where he’s promptly run over.
At this point, this is a fairly standard Tandy plot: Tandy cartoonishly overcompensates for some insecurity or deficiency, over plays his hand, realizes his mistake, and then resets. The arc of this A-plot really is no different, but it’s energized by good jokes and funny sight gags. Credited writer Jeff Vanderkruik centers Tandy’s foolish behavior on his ingenious idea to ply Jasper with cigarettes in exchange for good behavior. The image of Tandy slyly trying to pass Jasper cigarettes underneath the dinner table as the two put on this false show of polite conduct worked for me because it’s both extreme (children and cigarettes) and grounded in the reality of the series’ world (Jasper has no adult supervision; it makes sense that he would get into some adult vices).
Ultimately, the rest of the gang discovers Tandy’s plan and demand that he no longer act as Jasper’s primary caretaker. Tandy demands that Jasper choose his guardian and he decisively picks Erica, upsetting Tandy because of his anxiety surrounding impending fatherhood. Carol eventually soothes his fears and tells him that he’ll know what to do when his child arrives. Later, Tandy sees Jasper sleeping with Gary, and though he’s touched by the gesture, he swipes him back because he doesn’t trust him. All in all, it’s a nice, albeit predictable wrap-up to an otherwise simple story.
Meanwhile, the B-plot is mostly a wash. In short, Carol believes Todd wants to reignite his prior relationship with Gail because of an innocent shoulder touch. Feeling protective of her adopted mother, Carol starts sniffing around and threatening Todd to watch his back, which prompts Gail to tell her flat out that if she wants to bed Todd in the future, she will freely do so. It’s rooted in exaggerated Carol behavior—the metaphor-laden speeches, the overcompensation, the defensiveness—which nicely mirrors Tandy’s behavior, nicely illustrating that they are indeed meant for each other, but simply doesn’t have the jokes to stand up on its own.
“Point Person Knows Best” doesn’t end with a cliffhanger, but rather the shot of a sleeping child, providing the episode with a beat of sentimentality heading into its two-week hiatus. As the season heads into the home stretch, it’s expected that LMOE will ramp up some plot and tie up some of the loose ends, mainly Melissa’s mental illness. But for now, the gang has added a new face, one that’s expressive and kind, and prepares the adults for the many challenges ahead.
- Carol tries to encourage Tandy’s parental skills by advising him to take more of a disciplinary approach with Jasper. She cites Dangerous Minds as a key example for this tactic, saying that Michelle Pfeiffer “marches into the inner city classroom and for the first time in the history of the world, she wins kids over with stern disciplinarianism.” She first tries to cite Mr. Holland’s Opus but neither she nor Tandy saw the film.
- The two funniest moments in the episode involve Melissa. 1) Both Carol and Tandy see that Melissa has been sweating (a side-effect of her new medication) and immediately ask, “Have you been jazzercizing?” and 2) Melissa’s sarcastic smirk when she realizes that Tandy has been bribing Jasper with cigarettes.
- “Alcohol is what grownups drink when they want to get crunk.”