[SPOILERS ahead in this Last Man on Earth Episode Review]
Phil (The Last Man on Earth) and the gang are delighted to hear the sound of crickets out in the wild. But soon their delight turns to dismay when Carol decides to use them as a source of protein. Watching them eat the cricket stew is the cringe-worthy moment of this season (“It really dances on your tongue. Oops. That one’s still alive.”)
Disclaimer: My youngest daughter has a bearded dragon, so I am purchasing crickets and feeding them to her lizard on a regular basis. So this episode impacted me on a visceral level, having watched and listened to someone in my own home crunch and consume crickets.
This episode was solid all-around and surprising since the high points involved Phil and Carol interacting not with one another but the rest of the Tucson crew. “Crickets” was notable in what it successfully accomplished. First, it revealed Todd’s secret in a typically subversive manner. He’s discovered a freezer full of bacon and is hogging it all for himself. On the one hand, it can seem like a lazy comedic trope to have the fat guy hogging the bacon. On the other hand, it provided a key step in Phil’s redemption tour and their shared storyline was the highlight. The exuberance that they both display in eating the bacon was hilarious (if anything could ever be called food porn, those scenes would qualify).
Meanwhile, everyone else got a bit of screen time and the episode wasn’t worse off for it. Melissa and Gail’s subplot involving a cut needing stitches wasn’t particularly interesting, but at least it took both of them away from merely providing contempt and disgust toward Phil (and Gail appears to be an alcoholic – wondering what they might do with that development).
Elsewhere, Carol confronts the tension Erica is directing at her since Phil 2.0 broke up with her. Erica is holding Carol responsible for Phil 2.0 dumping her, despite Carol’s obvious disinterest and discomfort around Phil 2.0. His goofy and exaggerated flirting toward Carol has been uninspired, and I’m hoping Erica’s confrontation puts it to rest.
These ancillary stories were simple, but they expanded the relationship dynamics and provided a fair amount of characterization while the group engaged in the mundane acts of hanging out or eating meals.
But the episode belonged to Phil and Todd. The setup provided an interesting contrast between the two of them. Todd is perpetually affable and nice. Phil is selfish and weak. But once Todd crossed into deception and withholding, his fear and guilty conscious prevented him from ever changing course. Phil’s guilt, however, compelled him to try to halt the deception and let the entire group experience a little bit of pork-gasm. Oh sure, Phil didn’t intend to come clean about the situation, but when their bacon stash got down to 3 packages, Phil and Todd disagreed on whether or not to share it.
Perhaps Phil understands the guilt and shame that comes from deception and selfishness. And like most folks, Phil may find it easier to dole out wisdom to others than for himself to live by it.
In the end, Phil’s plan backfired and the ensuing drama set up a finale that was over-the-top hilarious and then bittersweet and tender. Phil’s redemption tour appears to be steadily progressing.