“A Real Live Wire” features our Malibu Bunch wrestling with heavy concerns about the future of their microsociety and the politics of YOLO. Spurned on by a fight with an increasingly uncooperative EvPhil, our characters finally turn their attention to the weightier issues a different postapocalyptic show might have addressed earlier on: repopulation and power supply. Should they plan for tomorrow, or live for the now? Let's make like Carol and chart the pros and cons.
Carol, whose cardigan game is fresh as ever this week, roots for the “Plan” camp. Tonight her attention returns to babymaking, a concern she voiced soon after shacking up with Phil last season. But it seems Carol's lady cohort is less eager to get busy — Erica's upset at the prospect of her boobs looking like old coin purses; Melissa voices very valid worries over proper medical care and dwindling natural resources. After all, this debate sparked after Phil's discovery that Malibu's gas stores have gone bad.
Speaking of sparks, they sure are flying through “Live Wire,” of both the electrical and interpersonal varieties, as Phil discovers while blow-drying his beard that the compound's generators are fresh out of juice. We're reminded that Phil tends toward the Now when we watch him give up and eat his waffle in its liquid state before attempting to repair his house's power supply. “The heat is off!” he warbles — I admit I'd listen to Phil sing-narrate a whole litany of household chores. But Last Man instead turns its attention to EvPhil, who's frustrated that his friends don't share his devotion to planning for tomorrow. In fact, he decides, he'll teach them a lesson for not listening to his lectures about natural resources and the challenges Malibu poses as a repopulation destination.
With EvPhil sulking off on a break, Phil, who's still on the last legs of his apology tour, attempts to man up and install solar panels in the backyard. With some help from Todd, his newly renewed brother-in-bacon, that titular wire gets to flailing around like an angry electrical whip. Naturally, the fist-bumpers decide to grab a snack before figuring out how to subdue it.
Meanwhile, Carol makes the rounds trying to casually convince her female roommates that their lives would be better with babies in them. She paints Melissa a ghastly portrait of an ugly Nic Cage–looking baby with a receding hairline, insisting that this is a representation of the life she'd create with Todd: “This is everything of which you never knew you dreamed,” Carol insists, clutching the best argument for birth control I've seen since middle school. Melissa remains unmoved. Gail remains attached to that creepy crash-test dummy dressed up in (RIP) Gordon's old clothes.
At least Phil is starting to change his tune: He admits to himself, and to Todd, that he needs EvPhil's help quieting the rogue solar-panel wire for the sake of his friends' safety. But EvPhil's done helping, and when Phil tries to level with his nemesis over their mutual love for Carol, EvPhil snaps and gives Phil a beating, even as he insists, “I don't know why she chose me over you either!” And it looks like Phil should have made himself a victim of physical violence ages ago, as this is all it takes to instantly endear him to all the women who've spent the past half-season hating his guts. All the housemates rally in his favor and try to buy EvPhil some stocks time, but the resident fixer scoffs at the suggestion after everything he's done for them.
“Being a tool is annoying, but it's not a crime,” Melissa says in Phil's defense. And with that, EvPhil arrives at a conclusion he should have reached weeks ago: It's time to leave Malibu. But — wait! — looks like that wire (which EvPhil quiets with a mere flip of a literal switch) isn't the only thing that's real live: Erica is pregnant. Of all the ways to keep these crazy characters together, this ain't the worst one; and Erica conveniently confessed she'd gotten knocked up right after EvPhil finished professing his love to Carol. Besides, we're ready to see some real stakes — we've had enough of these “Real World: Malibu”–esque antics. Plus, the writers finally gave Erica something to do! Childbirth will likely make good on her fears and turn her body into a war zone, but I'm actually looking forward to the battles that will ensue in the meantime.