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The Last Man on Earth Review: "The Tandyman Can"

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<em>The Last Man on Earth</em> Review: "The Tandyman Can"

Tandy’s trying to own his new name. Last week we saw the devastatingly hunky Boris Kodjoe show up and immediately usurp the “alpha dog” status that Old Phil thought was his. Kodjoe even took Phil Miller’s name—they might both be named Phil Miller, but they couldn’t possibly be more different. This week Tandy acts like he’s rolling with all these changes, embracing his status as the Tandyman and inviting the new Phil (who will just be Phil from now on in these reviews) to move in with him. Sure, he has ulterior motives—if Phil lives with Tandy, maybe Phil won’t wind up constantly having sex with every woman left alive—but even Tandy can’t help but be awed by Phil. He’s even inspired to start working out, kind of, if standing push-ups against a bar counts as working out, and if acting out of jealousy can be considered inspiration.

Phil has totally disrupted the dynamic of that Tucson cul de sac. The women embarrass themselves around him the same way Tandy did around them, telling obvious lies and basically oozing all over him. Phil’s clearly used to this kind of treatment (again: he’s played by Boris Kodjoe, so he doesn’t have to act hard to seem familiar with the attention of women) and although he doesn’t try to stop it he doesn’t go out of his way to encourage it, either. He’s mostly dedicated to fixing things and making this new life as comfortable as possible. Like Melissa, he’s both incredibly good-looking and a well-meaning, likable character.

Speaking of Melissa, as she’s faded a bit into the background she’s become increasingly one-note. Other than brief asides with Todd, we pretty much only see her when she’s saying something dismissive to Tandy. He deserves all the scorn she can dish out (he’s still lying to everybody), but only seeing this one side of her character has undermined the even-handed approach the show initially took to her.

I haven’t felt sympathetic for Tandy at all throughout this show, but I do feel bad for Todd. Granted he ruins his relationship with Melissa on his own, through his own jealousy and anxiety, but he had a great thing going in this new world, and it’s sad to see it come crashing down just because some hunk has rolled into town. It’s even sadder now that we know that Kodjoe’s Phil Miller isn’t doing anything with Melissa. Todd was having a better life after society died than he ever did before, and seeing him wreck it with insecurity is hard to watch. Melissa shouldn’t have to bend over backwards to settle his anxiety or stroke his ego, but she probably could have handled this situation better.

Probably the most admirable trait about Phil is that he doesn’t make a beeline for Melissa. He’s not looking for the most attractive woman, but the one he relates to the most. He even staves off the increasingly desperate and pathetic advances of Erica and Gail and falls for Carol. They both like cats, and he loves the scarf she knits for him, so it’s a perfect match, even if their loud, enthusiastic lovemaking keeps everybody else in town awake at night.

Tandy’s big lie this week could’ve had a positive impact upon the settlement. After watching Phil effortlessly receive the respect that Tandy never earned, and losing his self-appointed status as President of the United States to the new guy, Tandy tells the group that he had built a farm as another surprise for everybody. Tandy struggles to build a farm overnight, jury-rigging hoes to the back of a pickup truck and planting tons of seeds. Phil actually seems slightly impressed by the effort. Of course the only seeds Tandy could find were jalapeno seeds, so even when his lie leads to something that could legitimately help Tandy finds a way to mess it up.

I know some people do feel sympathetic for Tandy. Some of my colleagues here at Paste, like our news editor Jim Vorel, want to see him succeed, viewing him almost as a Charlie Brown-like figure. The pathos in Peanuts comes from Charlie Brown never deserving any of the scorn and derision heaped upon him, though. Tandy is a selfish, arrogant fool who probably never fit into society back when it existed. Watching him regularly undermine the last known human settlement every week is certainly funny, but it doesn’t make me like the guy. I’d be okay with him catching a few breaks if he resigns himself to a complimentary role in this new world, and accept that somebody more capable like Phil has much to offer their enclave. If he could just relax and act like a normal person around his neighbors. Until then he deserves every bit of his constant comeuppance. That doesn’t seem likely to happen, though, as this episode ends with Tandy and Todd agreeing that Phil needs to be killed. I don’t expect our male leads to murder somebody (even for a comedy as nontraditional as this one, that seems a bit extreme) but I wouldn’t be surprised if something happens to keep Boris Kodjoe from returning as a regular for the second season.

Garrett Martin edits Paste’s games and comedy sections. You can follow him on Twitter @grmartin.

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