Monday, October 26, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Last Man on Earth' - Phil Learns Todd's Secret as He Attempts to Rebuild Their Friendship in 'Crickets'

FOX's The Last Man on Earth - Episode 2.05 "Crickets"

The population may be small, but it's still big enough for big, dark secrets.

"Crickets" features more storylines in its running time than any previous episode of the second season. That's certainly because of the need to develop the community around Phil and Carol. Those two characters have such strong personalities. The other people of this universe have been around for awhile as well. But they can still use some more nuance. The show has worked so well this season as it has focused on Phil and Carol's journey to be reacquainted with this group of survivors. Now that trust and friendship are starting to be rebuilt, it's the perfect time to flesh out the rest of the characters on the show. They need meaningful stories as well even though it's likely the show will remain largely about Phil and Carol.

The survivors have enjoyed life being the last few people on earth because of the world around them being largely untouched. Now they are realizing that the food situation won't be permanent. They can't eat food out of cans for the rest of their lives. It's an amusing subject throughout this episode as Phil searches for a way to get back into the good graces of the group. He is simply trying too hard and that's when everyone notices that crickets surround them at this new Malibu mansion. Cricket casserole doesn't sound all that enticing. Everyone is reluctant to try the meal. It does turn out to be as disgusted as everyone feared. But that also lends itself nicely to what Todd's big secret is.

Todd has been walking away to another house in the neighborhood because it contains a freezer that still works and is filled with a ton of bacon. Bacon is the exactly kind of food to bring to this situation. It's something that everyone can crave and slightly lose their minds over. It's easy to understand why Todd wants to hoard this all to himself even though it tears him apart to lie to the group like this. It's his little secret but it's destroying him. Phil is the person who stumbles upon this secret stash. He even makes a deal not to say anything as long as he gets to enjoy the delicious food as well. It's not a completely surprising story. In fact, it's much more amusing than the teasing in last week's episode made the secret out to be. But it does feature an intriguing resolution.

The group is much more willing to listen to Todd's side of the story than Phil's. They simply trust him much more. Plus, Phil's story was way too exaggerated and ridiculous. Phil went to incredible lengths in order to take the blame for this secret. It was a hopeless venture. But it appears the thought was appreciated. Sure, both Phil and Todd are back in the medieval stocks as punishment. However, Phil has regained that friendship. That's crucial in showing his evolution as a character. He may not always know how best to communicate with the group. But his intentions are starting to appear more genuine than they were in Tucson. He can still put on a performance. But now, he is doing it for his friend and not out of some selfish desire. Only Todd sees that though.

Elsewhere, Melissa cuts her finger when opening some canned goods which becomes a much more serious injury considering no one in the group has any proper medical training. She has to rely on Gail to give her stitches and make sure it doesn't worsen. That's asking a lot considering Gail has a glass of wine in her hand every single moment of the day. Sure, she's still in grief over Gordon's death. But the wine is still an amusing character trait for her. It doesn't even impair her all that much either because she can still recite the alphabet backwards flawlessly. Most people can't even do that sober. It's very impressive - unlike the stitches.

And lastly, other Phil is still flirting with Carol to the annoyance of both Carol and Erica. Carol is happily married to Phil. And yet, other Phil is still aggressively pursuing her. No one thinks much of it. They mostly just roll their eyes and move on. But it's still incredibly hurtful for Erica because the two of them dated during Phil and Carol's time away from the group. Now that Carol is back, Erica's entire world has changed and she has reverted back to society's old way of hating the other woman. Carol has a point in saying that they should be directing all of their animosity towards the man in this situation. That works in the end too. Hopefully, this is the start of some deeper friendship between Carol and Erica. This story doesn't tell the audience a whole lot about Erica as a character on the show. And yet, it does signal that the characters do what to do things differently than how society handled them before it was destroyed. That's a nice thought.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Crickets" was written by Tim McAuliffe and directed by Jason Woliner.
  • Phil's plan with using the jet skis in order to dispose of the trash bags filled with all of the evidence of bacon was a bit weird. It would have been much smarter for him to drive the bags out into the middle of the ocean, drop them and then come back. He just sent the machines out by themselves. It's no wonder they eventually came back to spoil the party.
  • Carol's attempts to stop other Phil's flirtatious advances include changing her wardrobe in order to more closely resemble Melissa's. It's something that she isn't comfortable with because the outfits are just too plain.
  • It was also an amusing running joke that Carol would gag whenever she saw Melissa's bloody finger. Plus, Melissa is a fun drunk. That would be great to see more of in the future.
  • It was hilarious that Phil tried his hand at some bad stand-up comedian in order to lure the crickets out. It was funny because it didn't work at all. But when he was actually trying to amuse the group, they came out in droves. 
  • So Phil has won back the trust and friendship of Carol and Todd. Who's next? My guess would be Gail or Erica. Other Phil and Melissa would just be too hard to crack so soon.