Sunday, March 22, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Last Man on Earth' - Phil's Plans to Seduce Melissa Go Awry in 'Dunk the Skunk' & 'Some Friggin' Fat Guy'

FOX's The Last Man on Earth - Episode 1.05 "Dunk the Skunk" & Episode 1.06 "Some Friggin' Fat Guy"

Re-population is the talk of Tucson as Phil navigates the choppy waters between Carol and Melissa.

Phil Miller is a jerk in a world where the other three people who have survived this apocalypse are completely nice people. Yes, they have their quirks but they also have good intentions with everything that do. When Carol first met Phil, she wanted to find the decent person hiding within him. She knew it was in him somewhere. Phil only married Carol because he thought she was the last woman on Earth. And then, Melissa joined them in Tucson. She is a much more traditional beauty and the type of woman Phil was actually waiting for to spend his days with in this world. He has aggressively pursued her and almost completely forgotten about Carol. That is the narrative drive of these two episodes. Phil is trying to get what he wants and gets foiled every time because he's a jerk. That's not that very exciting to watch. In fact, if it weren't for that final sequence of him being honest with Melissa, it would have almost certainly turned me off the show altogether.

In the first episode, Phil is trying to manipulate Carol and Melissa into believing that he needs to have sex with both of them in order to make the future of humanity much better. He doesn't want his kids with Carol to procreate with each other. That is a nasty thought that he puts bluntly just so he get Carol's blessing to sleep with Melissa. Both women respect each other and love their friendship. And yet, they do turn on each other for a little bit because of Phil. That's not very intriguing but they are still able to deal with it and his deception because of their friendship. They needed to talk things out and have each other's back in this situation. It is an awkward situation to be in. And yet, it is one that Phil thinks they need to realistically consider. Melissa doesn't want to steal Carol's man away from her and Carol doesn't want to hate Melissa for alluring Phil away. Carol and Phil's marriage isn't on sturdy ground. And yet, it still has to have some respect. Phil has no respect for his marriage. That's why he's so relentless in pursuing Melissa. It's behavior that shouldn't be rewarded.

And yet, he does achieve victory for a moment. Carol sets some ground rules if he is going to have sex with Melissa. It's a job that is solely about repopulating the Earth. That's it. Carol is still his wife. All Phil really hears is that he'll get to have sex with Melissa and then he sets up this elaborate and romantic gesture for the occasion. It's way more than he did for Carol. It's also all too much and is his true downfall. Melissa just wants to do it as simple and quick as possible. She doesn't want to hurt Carol more than she has to. Phil doesn't care about that. So he sets off multiple fireworks - which then leads to Todd, another survivor, being able to find the two of them easily. His presence in this universe was teased at the very beginning of this episode. We knew he existed so we always knew that Phil was never going to be successful in his endeavor of seducing Melissa. So when the outcome is so blatantly told in advance, it takes a lot of the fun and interest out of the narrative and the story.

It turns out that Melissa and Todd become a much better couple than Phil and Carol have ever been. There is an honest connection there. They aren't simply pairing up because they believe they are the last two people on Earth. At the rate that the show keeps adding more people to the narrative, how many more times can new people come in and the audience will still get surprised by it? With the addition of Todd, it's already becoming a trick the show has gone to too many times. It's just not that surprising anymore as we see someone new experience the fact that they are other people still alive. However, Todd's presence does cancel out the logistic problems of procreation.

And yet, Phil is still upset that Melissa is more into Todd than him. He spies on them during their date, tries making himself more appealing in comparison and even tries sabotaging Todd. He does a lot of nasty tricks that shouldn't get him Melissa at all. She is smart enough to see what he is doing and be so turned off by all of it. What I don't get is how in the world Carol is so oblivious to it? Is she so focused on getting Melissa and Todd together that she doesn't see what Phil is up to? That makes her appear naive and foolish and Carol has never been described like that. If the Melissa and Carol friendship is built up so strongly, why doesn't Melissa just go to Carol and flat out tell her what Phil is doing? It's a very awkward situation that is made complicated because Phil is the point-of-view character for the audience. And yet, it's getting increasingly harder to identify with him because of the way he is treating everyone else on the show.

It also says something that the first time he truly opens up to someone it is to Melissa. Sure, Carol knows that he talks to balls with faces drawn on them. And yet, he has never invited her to the bar where they all hang out. He takes Melissa there to show her what his world was like without any people in it. He tries to justify his actions by saying that he forgot how to interact with people in the two years he spent isolated. One doesn't truly know how isolation effects the brain of someone until it happens. So I guess that is possible and the show is trying to tell different stories about how this big event has changed everyone's lives. I just wish it was being told in a more creatively strong and consistent way.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Dunk the Skunk" was written by John Solomon and directed by John Solomon.
  • "Some Friggin' Fat Guy" was written by Tim McAuliffe and directed by Michael Patrick Jann.
  • Carol loves a good craft project but her most innovative project yet was how she was able to convince Melissa and Todd that she just threw up. That was very crafty, fun and hilarious. She also got to make soup!
  • Phil still hasn't fixed Carol's door - and if it's still a symbol for their marriage, they still aren't in a good and sturdy place.
  • Phil and Carol's tennis outfits were so cute. Also, I love that Carol had to wear her wedding dress when she first met Todd because the rest of her clothes were wet. 
  • Phil's Morgan Freeman impression was actually pretty good. Too bad it was all just a part of a nasty trick to win Melissa.
  • The dunk tank gag lasted long enough to be funny, stop being funny and then find it's way to being funny again by the end of it.
  • Phil's pre-recorded message: "That orgasm was generously provided by Phil Miller."
  • So, I'm guessing the title The Last Man on Earth is now going to be ironic considering Phil Miller is no longer the last man on earth.