Sunday, October 4, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Last Man on Earth' - Phil and Carol Desperately Search for Each Other in 'The Boo'

FOX's The Last Man on Earth - Episode 2.02 "The Boo"

Phil searches for Carol after they're separated without phones or walkie-talkies.

Phil desperately wants to be a better man for Carol. He was able to prove himself to her on their road trip across the country following his exile from Tucson. And yet, they still got into a fight. An argument that threatened to take that important connection away from both of them. Phil has searched high and low to find Carol. He can't remember where the Speedy Pump was that he left her at - mostly because it was an Emco. He faced his biggest fear and returned to Tucson hoping that's where she would go. Instead, he was faced with even more isolation. The town was desolate and the anger towards Phil was still very much apparent. Phil looked at all that he has lost and fears that perhaps he was always meant to be alone. He is not the last man on Earth. But he may not deserve to be with the rest of the survivors. That is a truly profound thought that Phil realizes after several days of searching for Carol. He worries that he'll never be able to find her again. She hasn't moved from the spot where he left her. But he fears that for the rest of his life he'll be the selfish jerk who deserves to be alone talking to balls with faces drawn on them.

Phil and Carol don't know how to reach out to the other in a way that would get their attention. Phil got lost on a map and his own failure to remember things. Carol had the sensible plan to stay put at the Emco. But all she had was a gun, some road flares and one of those blow up wind machines used for promotional things. Those items represent hope for Carol. She's not going to leave but these are the only things that can possibly get Phil's attention should he be anywhere near. It's humorous watching her fail to toss the road flares high enough to be noticed. But it's also sad realizing that both Phil and Carol are doing their best but are still nowhere close to finding each other.

However, Phil is able to reunite with Carol. Instead of moving himself, he sends a bunch of things out in the hopes of finding her. It's a pretty smart move to send a train with a message written on the side. Sure, that plan hinges on Carol being able to hear the train and hoping it doesn't derail before it gets to her. And yet, it works. Just when Phil is at his most defeated - and one of his precious inanimate object friends is destroyed - Carol pulls around the corner. She appears and all is right in the world again. They forget about all of their problems. Their love is greater than anything else. That's such a strong way to reinforce just how much Phil has changed this season. Everything he has done is for Carol. He is committed to their relationship. He fears for himself but he always wants to make Carol happy now. That's such an important character progression for him this year.

It is incredibly disappointing to Carol though that none of her fellow survivors are still in Tucson. She has really grown to miss them - even though her love and happiness with Phil is enough for her. She enjoys friendship and love. She knows that there are other people out there and she wants to be able to connect with them. And yet, the celebration of being with Phil once again is much greater than any hope of being with other people. She is so glad that he found her. She lost all hope in him when he left her behind. Now that they are reunited, she hopes that their marriage will be stronger than ever before - even without other people noticing how much Phil has changed since he first left Tucson.

Carol thinks it's curious that Melissa or anyone else didn't leave a note for her to find should she ever return to Tucson. Every billboard in the country tells survivors to come to Tucson. There should be some way to inform those people that the group of survivors is no longer in Tucson. Or does everyone fully believe that there are no more survivors out there wandering the country? Despite that though, Phil does find a note saying that the group has moved to Malibu. It's not surprising that they moved after Phil and Carol left. Phil is the person that brought them to Tucson in the first place and that was only because it was his hometown. Everyone else doesn't think it's a great town. It could be the home Phil and Carol have been searching for this season. But Phil is also faced with the choice of telling Carol what happened to the rest of the survivors.

It's a decision that he anguishes over for some time. The last time he interacted with these people it almost destroyed his life. He became a completely different and cruel person when he was interacting with people again. Carol helped make him a better person. He is a changed man. But he still has the fear that the rest of the group won't give him a chance to show that he's changed. He is afraid of what they might do to him. He overcame those fears when it came to finding Carol. But now, he has to make this decision in order to make her happy. He selfishly keeps the note from Carol to figure out what he should do. He is plagued by dreams of other Phil and Melissa killing him. But he still shares the truth with Carol because she deserves to know the truth. He is selfless in telling her what happened to them and then actually getting her to go to Malibu. She wants to make the sacrifice of not being with other people in order to be with Phil. And yet, Phil does this to make her happy. It's a more meaningful sacrifice on his part because he's not being narcissistic. He's doing this for Carol. He'll face any consequence that are coming for him but at least he'll have Carol happily on his side.

Phil has hurt the rest of the survivors during their time together in Tucson. They have a right to fear for their "safety" following their move. But now, Carol has hurt them as well. It was unintentional too. Phil and Carol show up in Malibu and discover that the group of survivors includes another person. The show adding more people to its cast became an expected twist in the first season. It lost its shock value early on. And yet, the show found a way to make this twist even more darkly comedic. Carol sneaks up on the group and yells out "Boo!" The new guy, Gordon, is startled and quickly grasps his chest and dies. She didn't mean to startle him to death. But she did nevertheless. It's a hilariously twisted moment for the show. The consequences of that action should prove to make some compelling comedic and emotional storytelling in the next episode.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Boo" was written by Andy Bobrow and directed by Jason Woliner.
  • It's hilarious that Phil was wrong on all the details surrounding the gas station he abandoned Carol at. He was searching for a Speedy Pump with a red truck and a fruit stand while Carol was at an Emco with a white truck and a vegetable stand.
  • Phil tried to make Carol happy in Tucson by making stand-ins for the rest of the survivors for her to talk to. It was a sweet gesture but too creepy and emotional in execution. Though it was delightful that he got scared of the other Phil doll simply because the wind knocked him over.
  • The best part of the twist with Gordon is the fact that he is played by Will Ferrell. He's the exact kind of star who can pop up for a second just to die. It was great - though is it wrong to ask for an episode showing how he met the rest of the group?
  • I also really enjoyed the fact that there was a brief Elf reunion between Ferrell and Mary Steenburgen.
  • Phil on Brice: "He's gonna be just fine. He just got the wind knocked out of him."
  • Carol: "I was there for a week. It was definitely an Emco."
  • Phil: "Sorry Carol but when you're making a sacrifice for someone, you don't ask if its okay, you just go ahead and do it because that's what people do for whom about they care."
  • Phil on seeing what Carol did to Gordon: "Oh farts."