The Last Man on Earth Recap: A Moby Dick–Size Catch

Three's company? Photo: FOX
The Last Man on Earth
Episode Title
Sweet Melissa
Editor’s Rating

Tonight’s Last Man on Earth episode may or may not have been written by 11-year-old boys — as showrunner Phil Lord put it, “This is our poo poo theme episode.” References to diarrhea, sharts, diarrhea, dicks, and horniness abound. Now that Last Man has three characters to play around with, we get a better glimpse of its sensibilities, and it’s kind of perfect that a show about basic survival falls back on such primitive comedy.

We pick up right where we left off, with Carol and Phil and Melissa’s crash-meeting. “We’re literally in the honeymoon phase,” Carol says, getting our new character up to speed on her recent marriage. Naturally, Phil and Carol’s relationship has nowhere to go but down from there.

Phil is drawn to Melissa instantly, and doesn’t even attempt to hide it. At first Carol seems like she might be oblivious to her husband’s wandering eye, but perhaps she just doesn’t care. Kristen Schaal provides an excellent counterpoint to Phil’s desperation, and her cheesy jokes and quirky skill set round out some of the episode’s less predictable beats.

January Jones’s Melissa is one small step up from Phil’s mannequin ex-girlfriend, acting-wise, and predictably reliant on Cool Girl tropes. She’s beautiful, sarcastic, likes cars, wears heels, and drinks beer. Her liquid eyeliner is incredibly precise — a feat this recapper can’t even achieve in a stable society with plentiful electricity and running water. Melissa doesn’t do much more than smile and nod and look pretty, though that’s literally all she needs to do to cause tension in Phil and Carol’s already-strained relationship.

After Phil invites Melissa over for dinner, we glimpse another new face: Phil’s. Will Forte finally shaves off six months’ worth of growth in a shameless attempt to look good for his guest of honor, and his creepy winks and doofy smiles show us a hilarious new side of Phil. Carol and Melissa, on the other hand, are none too happy to see him clean-shaven. Comparisons to k.d. lang abound (and are kind of accurate).

The trio share some getting-to-know-you details over a Carol-cooked meal of Pilbasian Casserole (which incorporates raisinballs and “potato chips for mouthfeel” — how is Carol so good at crafting, yet so terrible in the kitchen?). We learn that Carol went to a Catholic university, which might explain her insistence on marriage before procreation. As for Melissa, we discover that Last Man’s super-mature writers made her last name “Shart,” and that her ex-husband cheated on her. It’s doubtful that Phil has a real chance with her, even factoring in reproductive urgency, but this info might make him more reluctant to shirk his spousal commitments, as infidelity will likely offend Melissa more than anything — though we know it’s just a matter of time before he throws himself at her. Could you blame a man so starved for female affection, though? In the words of Carol, Melissa is “a Moby Dick–size catch” — or, as Phil clarifies, “Try Moby Double Dick.”

Melissa smartly flees dinner after hearing this observation. “You ready to take the train to repopulation station?” Carol asks Phil once they’re alone. He declines to board, so Carol assumes he has diarrhea. (“I’m your wife! And I want you to know you can always tell me about your diarrhea.”) Somehow, Phil and Carol’s relationship is becoming increasingly fraternal, but potty humor and petty bickering are preferable to the heavy-handed marriage metaphors.

Which brings us to Carol’s Complaint of the Week: She’s on Phil’s case for not fixing her front door (which, you might recall, he broke last week). Before Phil gets around to this home-improvement project, he tries to woo Melissa with proper hygiene and more costume changes in this episode than in the previous three combined. He even gets her a new VW Bug (her favorite) as an apology for crashing into her old car. And he casually lifts weights, shirtless, where he knows Melissa will see him. At least she isn’t dumb enough to fall for the act: After she calls Phil out on his subpar tool knowledge (Wilson Phillips is a band; Phillips head is the screwdriver) as he heads to the hardware store, Jones achieves a mild level of sass, yelling out: “Pick up a shirt while you’re at it!”

Carol asks Phil if he’s attracted to Melissa, and he denies it. If only someone would ask Carol: Is she even attracted to Phil? Lucky for us, she later talks the situation over with her new friend Melissa: “To be honest, we only got married to repopulate … and I gotta give him credit, I mean, he could have walked away.”

After the girl-talk session, Melissa invites her new friends over for some beers (Cool Girl casually managed to rig up a generator to her fridge and has the brews “chillin”); Phil tells his new crush that his wife has diarrhea and heads over solo. Apparently two years of solitary existence have lowered Melissa’s tolerance, because one beer has her confessing to having misjudged Phil and admitting, “I would saw off my right arm to make out with a dude.” Looks like “Sweet Melissa” might have a spicy streak after all. Phil rushes over to Carol’s to ask permission to lay with Melissa, but Carol is busy creating a heart-shaped wreath with their names on it and encouraging him to be his best self. He doesn’t have the heart to tell Carol he wants to bang the hot neighbor.

But that’s this week. Next week: more sex! A teaser tells us Carol will suggest broadening the repopulation experiment beyond their marriage, surprising no one. Hopefully relieving some of this sexual tension will allow these stragglers to explore their surroundings some more instead of remaining so preoccupied with each other’s hormones. What else, and who else, haven’t Phil and Carol and Melissa discovered yet? In Last Man’s wide-open world, there’s gotta be more, uh, fertile ground to cover.