Will Forte as Phil.
Photo: Kevin Estrada/FOX
Well, now we know why Last Man on Earth aired a Christmas-themed episode the week before the episode titled “Christmas.” This was the least-Christmas-y Christmas episode ever. Following last week’s abundant holiday cheer, tonight’s mid-season finale may have been the series’ bleakest chapter yet.
We open with Mike Miller, currently in his tenth straight episode of doing nothing up in space — and he’s finally moving! This is Gravity, starring Jason Sudeikis in the panting Sandra Bullock role, with none of the emotional stakes. But there’s ample drama down below in Malibu: EvPhil is crying out in pain while his housemates try to diagnose his condition. Not to be a masochist, but it’s kind of great to watch Boris Kodjoe’s stony semi-villain felled by extreme physical pain. Is it just gas? Phil thinks it’s gas, but Gail is pretty sure it’s appendicitis. Then again, Gail is just a chef from a three-star restaurant in North Carolina. While I can empathize with everyone’s concern over EvPhil’s well-being — especially Erica’s, as she and her baby daddy are fresh off a reconciliation — I wouldn’t trust Gail to do surgery on me either. It’s unclear to me (and to her, it seems) how she became the go-to medical expert in this group. Still, they’ve made up their minds about her role.
As the gang rounds up medical supplies and Vicodin, Todd and Melissa acknowledge her surprise proposal. Melissa tells Todd that she was totally expecting a no anyway, and they both tell each other how awesome they are. Erica finds Gail coping with her wine glass, as usual, and insists Gail has to perform the surgery despite her preference to give EvPhil “some kickass drugs and send him off with a smile.” When Erica reminds her pal that this is the father of her child they’re talking about, Gail concedes. When Phil finds Gail already convinced, he’s sure he helped, of course.
Back to Mike Miller for a second. He’s found one last living worm, which he decides to name Phil, which is about the most touching human-worm interaction imaginable. I can’t wait to see how these brothers interact with one another, since we all know that’s how this is gonna end. The critter’s namesake is as lovable a dope as ever back down on Earth, where he presents EvPhil with a 50th birthday card and switches registers while talking to that “son-of-a-bitch appendix” and Erica’s fetus at the same damn time.
Meanwhile, Carol (who is woefully deprived of screen time in this episode) and Melissa raid a nearby hospital for supplies, which devolves into Girl Talk when Melissa finally breaks down. It’s been far too long since we’ve seen January Jones fake-cry, and this time, she even tries to throw stuff. Carol reminds her that their roommate is dying, though, and they ought to dig into those delicious feelings later.
Speaking of delicious, Gail practices incisions on some hand pies and does as terrible a job as we’d expect. Thank goodness Todd is there to read surgical manuals and eat the botched pastries. When Phil observes Gail’s failures on the pie-tients, he enlists Todd for a trip to the morgue, in search of actual organs she can use for practice. While the body lockers of Malibu only hold skeletons for some reason — I’m really trying to be better about suspending my disbelief, you guys, so I won’t mention that that’s not how human decomposition works — the guys discover something far better. In college, Todd was in a hip-hop dance troupe called the Body Lockers. Thankfully, we’re gifted with some solid body-roles set to strobing flashlights. But back to the impending appendix sepsis: Phil thinks Carol ought to try working with “a pancake that’s a little fresher off the griddle,” a.k.a. Gordon.
Todd protests, but Phil makes him help dig up his recently departed friend. Despite the sweet air-freshener necklaces they’ve rigged up for this stinky job, Todd breaks down in tears: “There’s just so much stuff, you know!” Word, Todd. As he bawls, he lets slip that he and Gail are boning. In a rare mature move, Phil moves on from this sexy knowledge and tells Todd to help finish the job. And finish they do — but when Phil and Todd tell Gail about their gross gift, they find her practicing on a proper surgical dummy. Uh, never mind!
We’re getting close to the main event now, so EvPhil tries to apologize to Erica for the way things went down. “We can talk about that later,” she insists. The sweet moment is tempered when Phil is convinced this sick daddy-to-be is asking him to father his unborn child when all EvPhil really wants is a glass of water. He’s in such pain that he insists Gail start surgery, even though she’s not ready; it’s nighttime, and she’s performing this operation by headlamp because it’s still the same night, apparently. With Todd assisting over a couple of ketchup spots and Gail’s medical vocabulary restricted to terms like “the clampy thing,” The Knick this is not, but Gail’s fraught emotions as she yells about her patient philling up with blood (sorry) are pretty terrifying. We end on a stressful surgery scene, intercut with Mike Miller making his descent from outer space, and the unmistakable sound of a flatlining monitor.
So, EvPhil is totally dead. Sad, but inevitable — for nomenclature reasons alone. This show can offer us goofy puns and sight gags every week, but the episodes that pack emotional gut-punches are the ones that stick. Once Mike Miller washes ashore in the spring, he ought to freshen up this disparate band of survivors and teach us some great new faux-swear words. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I sure hope Erica’s baby is ready to hatch when the Malibu bunch returns next spring. New blood will serve Last Man well.