The Last Man on Earth
Season 1, Episode 3, “Raisinballs and Wedding Bells”
Air Date: Sunday, March 8, 9:30/8:30c
I avoided spoilers when I reviewed the two-episode premiere of The Last Man on Earth, but it meant essentially ignoring the entire second episode. That’s really a huge disservice, because Kristen Schaal is hilarious. She plays Carol Pilbasian, presumably the last woman on earth, and the embodiment of being careful for what you wish. The nit-picking, grammar-correcting, pedantic super-ego to Phil’s slovenly id, Carol is determined drag him kicking and screaming towards the preservation of human civilization. She’s pretty blunt about about the responsibility laid before them–repopulation–but refuses to have sex with Phil until after they are married. “Raisinballs and Wedding Bells” jumps right into the nuptials, forcing Phil to confront all his reservations about spending the rest of his life with the last woman on earth.
The Last Man on Earth is both a figurative and literal deconstruction of human society. The end of each episode introduces another twist and adds another wrinkle to Phil’s increasingly complicated life. “Alive in Tucson” depicts the type of person Phil has become, for better and worse, after years of isolation. “The Elephant in the Room” then introduces Carol, and all the societal conventions he has gleefully abandoned come flooding back. From her impeccable grammar (“Don’t you mean, ‘Out for what do you need that gun?’”) to her insistence on continuing to obey stop signs, she is determined to preserve the human race and save it from collapsing into… well, whatever Phil has become. “Raisinballs and Wedding Bells” brings the conflict between Phil’s loneliness and selfishness to a head, and confronts the sacrifices we make and the people we become for the sake of one another.
Eager to preserve old traditions (meatballs), Carol attempts to make the best of a bad situation (raisinballs) and takes it upon herself to prepare the entire wedding, from the ceremony to the reception. Meanwhile Phil, the newly elected president of the United States, is merely tasked with retrieving the wedding rings. While Carol toils away, Phil spends his last day as a free man throwing himself a bachelor party with all of his “friends,” which mostly consists of burning things with a flamethrower: a mountain of toilet paper, popcorn, wigs. We’re only a few short episodes in and The Last Man on Earth has already been packed with great visual gags, but my favorite by far is the sight of all of Phil’s crudely drawn friends wearing wigs.
When he arrives still unkempt and without the rings, Carol finally gives up. Phil finds her to apologize after being confronted with the thought of being alone again, and soon the two are married. Married life with Carol turns out to be everything Phil dreaded and more–even their efforts at repopulation are painfully and hilariously awkward. However, the two eventually forge a genuine bond over Phil’s countless, senselessly destructive activities. Flamethrowers and steamrollers turn out to be the keys towards a successful marriage, and things are finally looking up for Phil when the show throws another wrench into the proceedings.
The series appears to be structured with a very clear sense of forward momentum and escalation, which will make for a great first season at the rate things are going. It’s a hilarious and interesting take on the fundamentally human struggle of merely coexisting with each other and a touching reminder of how societies manage to coalesce in spite of ourselves.
- Will Forte and Kristen Schaal are both experts of hilariously awkward and uncomfortable pauses, and this episode is filled with them.
- “Phil, you were a real scrub today. And you know how I feel about scrubs.” “You don’t want no?”
- “Oh, got your sleeping bag down, Phil! That’s your camping spot! You big camper! You better put the food in the trees before the bears get it!”
- “Oh I’m famished. After doing the nasty, I need to have some beans. Oh, you want some beans, babe?”
- “Oh my god, I can’t believe I just had sex with the president of the United States.”