Do Phil and Carol have ESP or something? Because our scrappy couple reunited in no time at all tonight (we were worried Last Man had a longer split planned). Turns out Phil suffered from a classic case of mistaken gas-station identity, and he was searching for the wrong fuel brand the whole time. Ever the patient companion, Carol waited patiently for Phil to come find her, feasting on convenience-store Slim Jims and gamely dancing with one of those inflatable sky dancers, flinging road flares haplessly into the air in the hopes that they’d catch her husband’s eye. Thank goodness she kept her ears clear, too: Somehow Phil managed to send over an autopiloted train spray-painted with the message “CAROL IT’S ME PHIL I’M NOT ON THE TRAIN I’M IN TUCSON.” Well, that was easy! Next time I’m trying to meet up with someone who’s gone incommunicado, I’ll just commandeer the nearest freight train.
Anyway, in short order, Carol finds a car and drives back to Tucson, where she cruises up to Phil just as he’s screaming out and crying, “I DESERVE TO BE ALONE!” (He had a super-emotional response to accidentally deflating his ball bro Brice, see.) Carol and Phil have reunion sex in the middle of the road. Thankfully, we’re spared the creepy dirty-talk this time around. Once they get off and get up, Phil shows Carol the wreckage of his/their former home, and they decamp to Carol’s old pad, which is as carefully curated as ever. Carol voices the fears she felt when she was waiting for word from Phil back at the
Speedy Pump Emco station: She thought “Old Tandy” had reawakened after their disagreement and she’d been left behind on purpose, but Phil proved her wrong. “I just want to be a better man for you, Carol,” he tells her, and truly, we believe him this time.
After another sloppy make-out sesh, Carol wants to slip into something more comfortable, and Phil pops open some prosecco while he waits. Of course he then finds the note about the Tucson pals’ whereabouts that Carol was so sure would be lying around somewhere. It’s written out on Melissa’s custom-printed stationery (wonder how she commissioned that on a peopleless planet — it’s so not crafty Carol’s aesthetic): “Carol, if you get this letter, we’ve gone to Malibu, please come. BUT DON’T BRING TANDY, IT WOULD NOT BE SAFE!” Phil hardly has time to process this news before Carol reenters in her robe, eager to swig Champagne and happily reminding Phil that he’s her “Honest Abe” as he conceals Melissa’s note deep inside his boxer-briefs.
Cut to Phil waking up alone in bed, where Carol has left a note of her own on the pillow: “Phil, you skunk. I found the note. I’ve gone to Malibu. I knew you’d never change.” So he rushes off to the ’Bu, but Evil Phil (EvPhil?) stops him on the highway, sawing through the roof of his car and wrapping his hands around Tandy Phil’s neck — oh, it’s only a dream. A double dream, actually, in which Phil fake-wakes to Melissa in his bed, who machine-guns down her would-be lover in a fit of fury. (Ironic foreshadowing for Will Forte and January Jones’s real-life romantic drama, perhaps?)
Sure, Last Man loves a goofy dream sequence, but this particular one shows just how conflicted Phil is over this dilemma — a far cry from the puerile nightmares that were abundant in season one. He’s at the point where he truly cares about Carol, and her happiness is important to him. But he knows that if they encroach on EvPhil’s turf, “he could kill me, or paralyze me, or both.” And then Phil’s conscience has its lightbulb moment: “I don’t know if I could live with myself if I don’t tell her,” he concludes.
To buy himself some time, Phil tries introducing Carol to inanimate friends of her own with the hope that she’ll experience the joys that Gary and the gang bring him. So he whips up some horrifying mannequins with very realistic wigs and facial hair, and gathers them ’round the bonfire for some mint juleps. Phil tries to get his wife to open up to her faux friends, but they just underscore how much she misses the real ones, and she runs off to cry. This display of emotion inspires Phil to finally cut the crap and fess up about Melissa’s note. At first Carol’s upset that her Honest Abe lied, but Phil insists he’s terrified of what will happen — yet more terrified of Carol being unhappy. And suddenly, the doting spouses reverse their positions on the issue: There’s no way in Norway Carol wants Phil around his nemesis, and Phil insists they should make the trip to Malibu.
At last Phil puts all the tequila they took in the premiere to good use and gets his wife wasted off a sickening number of shots. When Carol finally comes to, it’s daylight, and she’s waking up in the back of the RV, surrounded by Phil’s balls. Of course she’s touched: “You lifted up your skunk tail and you sprayed me with the sweet smell of selflessness,” Carol kvells.
Phil and Carol make it to the California coastline and sneak up on Melissa, Todd, EvPhil, Gail, and Erica — who are joined by … Will Ferrell? So much for no new friends. Carol decides to say hi to the beach bums before revealing Phil, sneaking up on them with a meek “Boo!” And, truly, the years have caught up with Will Ferrell, because Carol’s surprise greeting has him clutching his heart and falling face-first into the sand. Okay, no new friends after all. And what a relief — the last thing this show needs is another actor whose expertise lies in potty humor. But the Tucson 5 sure look upset — will EvPhil want her and Carol to join those beached whales lined up on this pristine Malibu beach? If Phil’s devotion and commitment demonstrated here are any indication, they won’t go down without a sloppy, slapstick-y fight.