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BWW Recap: 'The Boo' Scares THE LAST MAN ON EARTH Back to Equilibrium

In the season 2 opener last week, I spent a lot of time discussing the renewed characterizations of Phil and Carol, and their new relationship. I'm glad I did that, because in this second episode, THE LAST MAN ON EARTH further explores these relationships, returning the show back to the equilibrium reached at the end of season 1.

Season 2 so far is following a similar pattern to that in season 1. The first two episodes of season 1 were very experimental, and the pilot famously featured only Will Forte (SNL). In similar fashion, these first two episodes of season 2 have had a wandering quality. It was only at the end of the second episode of the show that we were introduced to Carol, and the original "normal" of THE LAST MAN ON EARTH was established. In exactly the same way, at the end of the second episode of season 2, we are reintroduced to the normal, or rather, we are introduced to the NEW normal.

This episode begins where the last left off-with Phil in Tucson trying to figure out how to find Carol, stuck in Oklahoma, who we abandoned. We get a lot of parallels between Phil's search for Carol, and Carol's waiting for Phil. Carol fails to light flares into the sky, often sending them on a path careening back to the ground, and Phil attempts to free balloons into the air to get her attention, which similarly fall to the ground. This lack of upward movement mimics the show's inability to move upward. The only way the two characters are reunited is through lateral movement, going in circles from Tucson to the east, then back to Tucson. The show does the same thing: for every step forward, there's an equal step back. Part of that is because of the limits of the plot, but it's also part of THE LAST MAN ON EARTH's DNA at this point. The creators of the show are keenly aware that there are very few places the characters can actually go, so they play with the idea of wandering (both internally and externally) and circling behavior.

This idea of "one step forward, one step back" is characterized by Phil mostly in this episode. In a rare show of emotion, Phil breaks down on the side of the road calling for Carol. He yells, "I'm a failure! I deserve to be alone!" seconds before Carol comes driving up to rescue him from this emotional pitfall. Phil takes one step toward character growth, and then in the next scene he takes an equal step back. In Carol's mansion he finds the note Melissa left for her, the note that conveniently let her know the cul-de-sac crew left for Malibu. In typical Tandy (season 1 Phil) fashion, he pockets the note and keeps it a secret from her. THE LAST MAN ON EARTH teases us with emotional growth, and then reminds us that these character's aren't capable of that-that they will continue to be the same people doing the same things.

Phil and Carols' character updates in the season 2 opener are tied to their locations. Last episode, they wandered around the country and were able to be the best versions of themselves. Because they weren't tied to any place or any person besides each other they were able to grow. As soon as they set foot in Tucson again, they reverted back to their characterizations last season. Episode one was a step forward, and now episode two is a step back.

Carol's reversion back to her season 1 characterization is probably a direct result of Phil's. Carol has always understood Phil better than Phil understands her. Phil assumes Carol left the gas station, and is wandering around the country, when in reality she sat at the gas station for a week waiting for him. On the flip side, Carol is waiting at the gas station for Phil to come back for her, assuming that he is looking for her-which he is, he's just too idiotic to find her. Carol understands Phil, but Phil doesn't understand Carol. Once Phil turns back to Tandy, Carol turns back to the Carol that doesn't trust him.

As soon as Phil starts acting like Tandy again, he gets Carol drunk and takes her to Malibu against her wishes, all because she wasn't doing what he wanted. Phil wants to go to Malibu, despite being afraid of what the cul-de-sac crew will think of him. Even though he's scared of how they will treat him (he's convinced Phil will murder him), it's still better than the old Carol. In the last episode, Phil was constantly searching for a place for he and Carol to settle down, where they could continue to be their new selves. In Phil's mind, Malibu is this place. Malibu is the refresh, where he and Carol can start over and have a new life.

However, Phil will never get this refresh. He stopped in Tucson, and was reverted back to his old, lying, mess-up self. That's why when he and Carol set foot in Malibu, and see all their old friends, the show similarly hits refresh and goes back to the equilibrium of season 1. Phil acts jealous toward the new guy, played by Will Ferrell (SNL). Carol misreads a situation, by scaring the group (the titular boo). And with this "Boo!" THE LAST MAN ON EARTH kills their new character, reintroduces our leads to the ensemble we know, and hits restart. Now the real fun can begin.

The Last Quotes on Earth

"The second time's not the charm, you gotta add one more charm on there!"

"You haven't seen a beach till you've seen a California beach" cut to: a row of beached whales

"Phil, you're in good hands! It's me-Carol!"

"Did you see my train?" "I sure did, you little love conductor."

"The Beatles wrote a song about what we just did." "We Did It in the road?" "I was thinking Yellow Submarine."

Leave your comments or thoughts on tonight's episode below or tweet me @gunnar_larson! Be sure to head here next week as I recap the third episode of THE LAST MAN ON EARTH!

Photo Credits: Anthony Hardwick | FOX

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