Tonight’s Last Man finally followed up on some outstanding plot points. With the midseason (Christmas!) finale looming next episode, the show finally decided to mine the Phils’ issues with one another, detonate the tension between Melissa and Todd, and revisit the other Miller brother, who’s still lost in space. And hey, remember the cow? She’s back, too.
We open the episode with the surprise birth — no, not Erica’s; that’d be quick even by sitcom standards — of a calf, thanks to that cow from season one. (She was vaguely referenced as the source of the cheese Phil stole a couple of episodes ago, but has been moo-stly absent aside from that.) Somehow, no one points out how clean this birth seems to have been. Instead, Erica fixates on the terrible sounds the cow made during labor, and Carol is kind enough to point out that “Cows don’t have doctors to sew them up — well, I guess we don’t either.” Of course, the guys are quick to point out how this birth could have happened at all: There’s a bull out there somewhere.
Phil goes to check on EvPhil, who missed the calf’s big reveal because he’s still trapped in the stocks he was locked in last week. (Incredulous, Melissa observes, “Wow, we are really using these things on a weekly basis now.”) Phil tries to have a heart-to-heart with his prisoner, who claims he’d like to redeem himself by finding the bull for his friends — and returning to the stocks as soon as he does, mind you. It’s not just the angle of EvPhil’s head trapped in that contraption, though; there’s something sinister in his eyes. Tandy takes the bait, unshackling the man he’s still somehow convinced is his friend. EvPhil delivers a depressing speech about how everyone is alone in the world, then sets off for Canada (knowing EvPhil, they must have good solar tech there).
Still, the Malibu bunch think they can track down this bull without their resident fixer. Phil delivers a rousing, Coach Taylor–worthy motivational speech. “Webster’s Dictionary defines team as ‘together everyone achieves more,’” he insists. (It doesn’t.) While everybody prepares their respective lemonades and cow-urine samples, Todd goes to check on Gail — and finds her underneath her dearly departed Gordon’s crash-test likeness. This is exactly as awkward as it should be. Gail claims it’s CPR practice, and though Todd isn’t fooled, he keeps respectfully quiet about the whole matter. Later, on the expedition, the two share some real talk and Gail acknowledges her grief: Without a partner, “life is just a big bunch of nothin’,” she laments. So, when Melissa finally breaks up with Todd a couple of minutes later, he turns to Gail for comfort, and they’re making out before they know it.
Back at the bungalow, Phil delivers yet another notorious “Tandy Talk,” as Melissa’s dubbed them. I think it’s about forgiving people? Or not judging them? It’s all an attempt to get the gang looking for EvPhil, as well as that bull. For dramatic effect, he plunks a giant rock at each person’s dinner setting, because something something don’t throw stones from your glass house. Everybody fights — and, as Melissa points out, that’s a natural part of life. Phil shuts everybody up by throwing his own little boulder through the window and shouting, “None of us are without sin!” Come on, Phil: Who do you think is going to fix that now that EvPhil is gone?
Or is he? The next morning, in the middle of an uncomfortably silent breakfast, the bull rears its giant head. I never would have pegged these grumps as such quick-draws, but the team instantly subdues the bull with many, many tranquilizer darts. And who should materialize, once the animal is knocked out, but EvPhil! It seems Phil’s insistence that they were a family got to him after all, and he decided to stick to his lie of a plan to redeem himself. EvPhil insists he should return to the stocks for the rest of his sentence, but Phil & Co. are ready for forgiveness. And — because they “accidentally” overdosed the cow — everybody gets to eat ribs.
Another loose end addressed in “No Bull” was Mike Miller’s time in space. Basically nothing has happened to him since his appearance in the season opener, but Last Man does not acknowledge his radio silence — unless you count the character’s efforts to make contact with anybody who might be out there with a transistor radio. In case we’ve forgotten that he and Phil are brothers, we learn that they use the same endearing fake curse words, like “farts” and “friggin’.” (And he’s still talking to Terry the worm with just as much fervor as Phil has for his sports balls.) After Mike’s transmission fails with a terrible feedback loop, we see him strip to his boxers and suck down some nitrous oxide, which is intercut with the gang feasting on their felled bull and the sounds of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day.” Damn, that’s bleak.
So, what’s in store for the Last Man Christmas special in two weeks? Is Mike going to crash-land the space station? Is Other Phil good now? Are we gonna have to strike the “Ev” from his name? I really don’t want to go back to calling Forte “Phil Tandy” again.