One of the premises of The Last Man on Earth is that Phil is not his best self when you start throwing other people into the mix. But the latest addition to the cul-de-sac hasn’t just disrupted Phil’s life. It has also sent another survivor spiraling out of control.
“Friggin’ Phil.” It’s a phrase that sets the tone for “The Tandyman Can,” and for once, it’s not directed at Will Forte’s Phil Miller. It’s aimed at the new guy.
New Phil Miller has won the hearts and minds of the cul-de-sac’s women (including the cow), and Todd is not happy. Not happy at all.
Todd’s insecurity from last week has exploded, taking out his relationship with Melissa in the process. Todd doesn’t seem to recognize that, while Erika, Gail, and Carol are all actively competing for New Phil’s affections, Sweet Melissa is just pleased to have another person in Tucson — and a handy one at that. So what if she wants to ride around on the back of a garbage truck? And so what if New Phil can’t remember Todd’s name?
While the other three women are vying for New Phil’s attention (Carol, with her hand-knit scarf and cat fingernail polish quickly takes the lead), Old Phil (who is now going by Tandy) is trying to retain control of his life. He’s not the last man on Earth. He’s not the nicest man on Earth. Now he has to deal with the indignity that New Phil may be the best man on Earth. Old Phil tries to retain control by moving New Phil into his house, but he’s quickly intimidated by New Phil’s physique. The women elect New Phil President of the United States, ousting Old Phil from his (largely ego-boosting) position. Funny how he once rolled his eyes at Carol for making him the President.
It’s when New Phil starts making noise about leaving Tucson that Old Phil really gets his butt in gear. Letting go of his apocalyptic fantasies was hard, but Old Phil is genuinely attached to Tucson. So he goes straight back into compulsive liar mode, telling everyone that he has already started a little farm. He even stays up all night plowing and sowing. Of course, even when he’s actually doing real work, Old Phil has to screw it up, planting nothing but jalapeños. If only he could direct all that dubious energy of his toward something truly productive. (Although perhaps if, as some viewers have suggested, the other characters exist only in Phil’s mind, he can only accomplish even this bare minimum if he feels like other people are judging him.)
Meanwhile, Todd has also been trying to exert control himself, and it’s going just as disastrously. He deals with his jealousy of New Phil by telling Melissa she can’t hang out with him. I suspect that even if Todd was the last man on Earth, Melissa wouldn’t take kindly to being ordered around like that. Todd ends up breaking up with her because he can’t stand the chance that she’ll dump him. The worst part? This means that, for the moment, Old Phil is Todd’s only friend on the cul-de-sac. And that could spell disaster.
The catalyst for this disaster is Carol. Old Phil doesn’t recognize how must affection he has for Carol, but it’s clear to the audience. Carol teases him about being jealous. He’s miffed when she votes against him for the presidency. He even picks up Carol’s metaphor about spraying his scent everywhere, perhaps without even realizing it. Old Phil grew comfortable with Carol, even if that comfort wasn’t quite love.
Carol and New Phil, on the other hand, are weirdly compatible. He even likes her eccentric form of dirty talk, gamely playing along with her narrative about campers and bears as they do it. And naturally, they are loud enough that everyone can hear them. Erika and Gail are perplexed, but admit defeat. Melissa, reading in bed alone, smiles at her friend’s happiness. Old Phil wakes hearing his ex-wife screaming his ex-name and plods over to the fire pit where Todd is grouchily staring into the fire.
It sounds like a joke: What happens when there are three men left on Earth? Two of them plot to kill the third one. But when Todd says, “I’m in,” he seems quite serious.