The midseason premiere of The Last Man on Earth begins much the same way that last year’s
did: Away from our main group and following the adventures of another character. It’s a little different this time out, however. While we had been introduced to Mike Miller before we spent all of “Pitch Black” with him, we’ve never met Pamela Brinton (Kristen Wiig) before.
Pamela is a wealthy socialite who spends much of her time raising money for dogs with hip dyspepsia. Her world begins to unravel when a guest at one of her functions faints with signs of the the just-emerging virus. “Got Milk?” is the first time we have seen the virus in progress and the episodes gives good detail in how the whole thing went down. Although it would have been more effective to see the virus through the eyes of one of the main characters, the episode’s first half is solid and driven by the emotional decline of Pamela as everyone she knows and loves dies slowly.
If I had to hazard a guess, one of the most talked about scenes from this episode will be a series of smash cut gags as the virus kills off their entire presidential line of succession (starting with Mike Pence. Trump seems to be completely out of the picture and the show doesn’t reveal what happened to him). Politics aside, that scene provides a good idea of how quickly the virus escalated.
Eventually, Pamela’s beloved husband Benjamin (Timothy V. Murphy in a rare for this show gues role) isolates himself in their sauna after coming down with symptoms and begs her to leave. She travels to the mansion of her rival Catherine (played in two scenes by the always terrific Laura Dern) only to find her dead. She then swipes the keys to Catherine’s underground bunker, where the rest of the episode takes place.
Pamela slowly goes stir crazy in the bunker. With only her dog Jeremy for company, she loses a grip on reality and in about a year and a half, she’s trying to teach him how to talk. She also discovers the bunker’s drone and learns to pilot it. It is this that is the most interesting plot development in the episode. Ever since last season, the drone that Gail spotted has been a bit of a mystery. By the second season finale, most viewers just assumed it was Pat’s, but neither he nor Lewis ever made mention of it. Now we find it was Pamela behind it all along, debunking Melissa’s belief that the owner of the craft had sinister motivations.
The only time we see our main group of characters is through Pamela’s perspective in brief scenes relating those two encounters with the drone. These encounters, and the subsequent loss of the drone, encourage Pamela to finally leave her bunker.
It will be interesting to see whether and how Pamela ever finds the group. They’ve already left Malibu for San Jose and left no signs of their whereabouts. Yet, The Last Man on Earth practically runs on fantastical coincidences to the point that it’s practically the show’s M.O. and it has relatively no effect on the quality of its writing. Not only that, but it would be a shame to have someone like Wiig as a recurring character and have her never interact with her former SNL co-star Will Forte and the show’s superb ensemble cast.
Similarly, It will also be interesting to see whether the Pamela storyline is continued before she finds the group. I felt that it was a lost opportunity to never show Mike on the road between “Pitch Black” and when he finally reunited with his brother in Malibu a few episodes later. Hopefully, the show doesn’t make the same decision with Wiig, particularly because we only had this episode to become invested in her.
“Got Milk?” is a superb return for The Last Man on Earth that succeeds through Wiig’s great guest performance. Anyone who has seen her in the underrated The Skeleton Twins and Hateship, Loveship knows that Wiig excels in comedy-drama roles and this episode is no except. The script plays into the dramatic elements inherent in the show’s backstory well. The episode’s tense and dark moments never once seem out of place, and zanier elements like Wiig’s character eats cat food straight out of the container don’t seem tonally dissonant.