The Last Man on Earth Season 2 Episode 2 Review: “The Boo”

The Last Man on Earth Season 2 Episode 2 Review: “The Boo”

The Last Man on Earth

I wondered how long The Last Man on Earth would be able to go without returning to the Tucson crew and all the bad memories that came with it. With Carol and Phil separated, it seemed like it would be a good while before we saw Melissa, Todd, Phil 1, and the rest of them, and somehow, there they are at the end of “The Boo,” which accelerates its new story in favor of returning to its old one. However, hopefully, this return to old form will bear the fruit of some of this season’s new qualities, lest the ending of “The Boo” act as an ominous marker for the quality of the show moving forward.

The biggest change to The Last Man on Earth‘s basic formula in last week’s premiere was the Carol/Phil relationship. For all intents and purposes, it felt like both Phil and their relationship had evolved a bit in the time between Tucson and the East Coast. That progress, portrayed so beautifully in the season premiere, is the emotional crux in the first act of “The Boo”: by showing that Phil has actually invested in his relationship with Carol, it’s given much-needed contours to their dynamic. Essentially, both Phil and the show as a whole take Carol a little more seriously, and The Last Man on Earth appeared to be much better off for it. Separating them this quickly really only makes that progress more evident. Did anyone expect to get goosebumps when Carol saw Phil’s letter to her on the side of the train, seen right as she’s losing faith in New Phil to return (turns out he was looking for the wrong gas station the whole time, leaving Carol to eat nacho cheese on beef sticks for a week straight)?

Seeing that train so early in the episode is a surprising moment, though I wonder if it would’ve been useful to keep Carol and Phil apart for the entire episode. Instead, “The Boo” brings them back together almost as quickly as they were separated, reuniting them immediately to push forward from Tucson, and hunt down the old crew in Malibu, where Phil is clearly not welcome (the note they left Carol reads “Do not bring Tandy” in bold capitalized letters), effectively ending the short Carol/Phil journey across the country I so hoped would make up the majority of this season. Andy Bobrow’s script doesn’t move at a rapid pace; it accelerates like Sonic the Hedgehog, pushing the two back together, bringing the letter (which Phil tried to hide) to the surface almost immediately, and then exploring the limits of Phil’s morality before they hit the road for Malibu.

Besides the opening train sequence, Phil’s conversation with Carol about heading to Malibu is the real highlight of “The Boo”: it neatly delineates Phil from Tandy, two different people with entirely different emotional maturity levels. While it’s debatable whether Phil’s act to get Carol drunk and drive her to Malibu is a selfish decision, it’s a selfish decision he’s acting out for the sake of Carol. After all, he knows she wouldn’t be happy in empty Tucson, and he’s bringing her down there because he knows she won’t be lonely with him. “Am I enough for you?” is a question many partners are afraid to ask their significant other, but it’s often a question that rests in our subconscious in a relationship, and seeing that paranoia come to the surface in the world of The Last Man on Earth is poignant, a very promising sign the show’s heading in the right direction, even if it’s heading directly back to the source of all its problems in Season 1.

It’s surprising just how fast “The Boo” moves from point A to point B. I fully expected the Carol/Phil separation to dominate the whole half hour, not be an afterthought dismissed in the first act for a table-setting episode. And yet, there’s something charming about the show’s insistence on proving both Phil and itself have changed. Bringing back the old crew will certainly prove to be a litmus test of how this season has grown, particularly with how the stage is set, Carol’s “surprise” entrance giving new cul-de-sac crew member Gordon (Will Farrell) a heart attack, the closing image of the episode. Will The Last Man on Earth stick with Phil, or will Tandy make an ugly return when all their old neighbors are around? Surprisingly enough, Last Man has made this quite a mystery, considering how well its first two episodes have been crafted. There’s a real sense of growth with “Is There Anybody Out There?” and “The Boo,” a feeling I hope the show doesn’t lose when Melissa, Todd, Gail, Erica, and (ugh) Phil Miller 1 return to the proceedings.

Other thoughts/observations:

  • Boy, that beach full of dead whales is a sobering image.
  • “Well, this is a Grade A flustercuck.”
  • For some reason, those flying inflatable men make great existential companions. The Last Man on Earth has shades of Rectify when Carol is stuck hanging out with it (until she lights it on fire, of course).
  • RIP Bryce.
  • Loved the cutaway to Carol’s sex noises echoing through the canyon.
  • Phil’s dreams, while thematically simplistic, are a nice little change of pace thrown into the middle of the episode. Now, can we get a sequence set inside Carol’s dreams? That is a world I want to see.

[Photo credit: Jordin Althaus/FOX]

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