Will Forte in The Last Man On Earth
Image: Kevin Estrada (Fox)

Last week on The Last Man On Earth, Tandy’s brother Mike Miller, presumed dead from the virus, suddenly returned in the dead of night to shave off half of Tandy’s face. Though everyone welcomes Mike back into the fold with open arms, he nevertheless feels a little displaced from the group. Everyone has kids and is in a committed relationship and it’s unclear where Mike fits into all of this. For months on end, all he’s had were Tandy’s sports balls and a thermal imaging system for company. Now that he’s surrounded by people, he feels more alone than ever.

But in the dead of night, a “blob” of heat shows up on his system, which intrigues Mike to no end. It could be a sign of more people, or it could just be a geyser or a bunch of geese. Either way, Mike is determined to drive 800 miles to find out what it is, which sends Tandy into a desperate state of despair. It seems like every time Mike shows up in his life, he’s out the door at the first chance he gets. Tandy believes it’s because Mike is embarrassed to be around him, but the real answer is both obvious and a little sad.

LMOE handled Mike’s return the best it could, even if it meant writing around a seemingly permanent exit, but this week’s episode is a much better showcase for the character and Sudeikis’ performance. His scenes with Forte this week perfectly balance grounded drama and outrageous comedy. Compare the scene when Tandy tells Mike that it’s dangerous to venture out into this world alone to the one when Tandy lies in front of Mike’s truck to stop him from leaving. The former is an emotional appeal from a brother who doesn’t want his only blood relation to drive into unknown territory, and the latter is an over-the-top plea that devolves into a screaming match. Sudeikis and Forte have rarely been better than when they’re just falling apart together, even though Forte is naturally suited to yelling lines like, “End me!”

To assuage his anxieties, Mike gives Tandy a fun brother hangout day with zorb bowling, but he still plans on leaving. When Tandy finds Mike stealing back his keys, he confronts him about his abandonment. Mike eventually reveals that he has trouble being around Tandy because he’s jealous of his life, and that he must seek out the blob in case there are other people out there. Despite Sudeikis’ best efforts, his breakdown is the clumsiest moment in the episode, mostly because it’s too earnest and literal by a hair, but the moment still works on the whole. In a pre-apocalypse world, Mike’s personal and professional accomplishments were the subjects of envy and praise, but after the virus, Tandy has become better acclimated. He’s carved out a life for himself with a wife and children. Mike has nothing and he needs to find something for himself.

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Meanwhile, in the episode’s other two subplots, Erica and Todd fight over a wall color for the nursery, and Melissa and Gail shirk their food-gathering duties. Both stories are fairly bland and they end predictably (Erica and Todd make up, and Melissa and Gail eventually do their chore), but it’s notable that the two dovetail nicely. Melissa and Gail attempt to con Erica and Todd into believing that someone stole all the food that they spent hours gathering, but Todd fake cries, guilting them into admitting that they lied and denied a pregnant woman of food. Todd’s strategy warms Erica’s heart and the two eventually compromise on a color.

By the end, Tandy joins Mike on his mission with Carol’s permission. There may be people camped out somewhere in Mexico, but as Todd discovers in the nursery, there’s dead bodies lining the walls of the group’s mansion. Surprises lie at home and abroad.

Stray observations

  • In the funniest scene of the episode, Carol doesn’t understand the fundamental properties of karaoke. When Tandy tries to teach her using “Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon, she sings it to the tune of “Jingle Bells,” and then eventually just watches the lyrics on the screen.
  • Gail helps Melissa skeet shoot, which I’ll take as another nod to Jones’ infamous scene in Mad Men.
  • The best insult Mike hurls at Tandy: “I can’t wait to teach your babies how to smoke!”

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