I’ve said a few times in these reviews that one of the best things about The Last Man on Earth is the weird but loving relationship that developed between Carol and Tandy and in turn, the effortless comedic chemistry between Will Forte and Kristen Schaal.
That relationship is the focus of this week’s episode, “Falling Slowly,” which addresses the couple’s fertility issues through a series of awkward, alienating and ultimately endearing scenarios that seem to sum up their relationship well. After all, there is some inherent humor in the fact that two weird characters who didn’t particularly like each other or have anything in common when they met have become one of television comedy’s best couples.
The episode’s plot starts rolling when Carol tells Tandy that she had asked Todd to help them conceive their child. Tandy surprisingly handles the idea like an actual adult, even when Carol tells him that “for accuracy” she plans to have actual sex with Todd instead of merely use his sperm. Tandy, however, immediately shoots down the other option of using Mike. I’m still not sure if I like Tandy having that half beard for the rest of the season, but the gag with him pacing back and forth, weighing the options like a furry version of Two-Face is really funny.
Tandy ultimately agrees, but, as he tells Mike, there’s another catch. As established last season, Carol is a bit “old-fashioned” and wants to have a complicated series of divorces and weddings so the child she and Todd ultimately conceive for her and Tandy is “legitimate.” To wit: they have agreed to get a divorce, then she and Todd will marry, do the business, they divorce and then Carol and Tandy remarry. Mike is understanding and yet a little confused as to why they didn’t ask him. Mike is also more concerned that, in all the time that Tandy and Carol have been in an actual relationship, he has never told her that he loves her.
I’m glad that Mike is no longer Tandy’s Road Runner and acts more like his regular character here. I was seriously concerned that he would turn into another version of Other Phil and this would become “The World Hates Phil Tandy Miller Show” all over again — that joke got real thin and I’m relieved that they’ve decided not to go back to that well again. Mike and Tandy have also been bonding, performing obnoxious karaoke duets of The Swell Season’s Oscar winning song “Falling Slowly” constantly to the great annoyance of everyone around them.
Tandy claims the combination divorce-wedding isn’t going to be a big deal due the temporary nature of both arrangements. Naturally, nothing is low key with Carol and Tandy seems to be fairly game about the weird, awkward ceremony. In it, Tandy gives away the bride, gets divorced and acts as justice of the peace. Due to Todd’s nice guy willing to do anything nature, he has also become fairly game.
The entire thing acts as a winking parody to the show’s complicated relationship structure between its small cast of seven: Melissa and Gail are barely okay with this whole thing. Then Tandy pulls a 180 in the middle of the whole thing and admits that as much as he appreciates Todd’s help, he’d be more comfortable with Mike being the donor.
Things go quietly awry at the after-party: Todd is clearly hurt by Tandy’s last second decision and angrily dances alone and away from everyone. Meanwhile, Carol and Mike hit it off well, and Tandy is concerned that going with his heart may have been the wrong choice. Naturally, this is followed by Tandy announcing that he would be there when they reproduce.
And so he is. Carol is a little weirded out this, but Mike is clearly taken aback by the sheer strangeness of the pair’s quirks. Between Carol’s bizarre fantasies that he tries and fails to get into and Tandy watching over them with a headlight like he’s a doctor, Mike is barely able to get into it. The entire thing is completely blown when Tandy chooses this moment to finally, sweetly tell Carol that he loves her. She’s touched, Mike isn’t. “You’re gonna do this now?” he complains.
Everyone else is downstairs and can hear the whole loud thing. Melissa: “They’re really invested in this picnic theme.” Gail: “I don’t think I like living here anymore.”
The next morning, Todd is still upset at Tandy and everyone else is a little annoyed at him in general. Then Carol comes with what she thinks is a ovulation test but is really a pregnancy test — she’s pregnant and it can’t be Mike’s because nothing happened. The baby is Tandy’s. This would be a great way to end this episode, but there’s one more startling scene: Gail is confronted by a drone while outside drinking wine. Looks like we’ll be getting another character (or characters). To be honest, it’s a little too late in the season to add more people into the mix, but I’m interested to see where this goes.
“Falling Slowly” is a good episode, both in terms of the plot and how the characters interact with one another. The show still really doesn’t do anything with Cleopatra Coleman’s Erica aside from an eyeroll here or there, but the interactions between Tandy, Carol and Mike are excellent. Mike feels like a real character again, there’s a major plot moment and the show doesn’t feel like it’s treading water with Looney Tunes slapstick.