Well, it was nice while it lasted. After two solidly promising episodes that showed character growth and development, Sunday night’s The Last Man On Earth regressed back to its first-season ways by proving that the series still somehow doesn’t know what to do with Will Forte’s Phil Miller beyond making him a foil for the rest of the characters.
“Dead Man Walking” picked up where last week’s episode left off, as the former-Tuscon now-Malibu gang buried Gail’s lover Gordon, briefly played by Will Ferrell. Of course, considering the unfortunate circumstances having to do with her, oh, killing Gordon, Carol’s reception was not exactly a warm one. Complicating this was that Carol’s former lover, Phil Miller #2, had since shacked up with Erica, who was likewise not thrilled to see her back. For these reasons, Carol decided that the temporary best course of action was to concoct an elaborate lie about Tandy having died in an act of valiant bravery.
Carol’s plan of building Phil/Tandy up as a hero predictably did not go according to plan, and it was only after bungling the reveal and resigning herself to Tuscon that she finally cut the crap and had a heartfelt talk with the others, who actually seemed ready to give him another chance.
And then, everything went right to hell.
Thinking Carol had screwed the pooch, Phil posited a way that he could get everyone to listen to his sincere apology for his previous behavior. And despite all that progress had been made — and the others were all (unbeknownst to him) ready to move forward — for some reason, he decided that this could best be accomplished by holding them all hostage at gunpoint and forcing them to listen. Great plan! In a scene that went on painfully way too long, Phil maniacally waved a gun back and forth, apologizing to his friends while threatening to shoot them. The only saving grace was that they didn’t fall back on the trope of having the gun go off after he eventually tells them that it wasn’t even loaded.
So where does this leave us now? For the time being, with Phil literally being punished in stocks (which I assume they had constructed just in case of his return) but long-term? Who knows. Phil had already faced a long road to redemption, and even if the others are willing to put up with him for Carol, what it will take for him to truly to be accepted back into the fold is anyone’s best guess. All we can hope for is that the writers find a way to creatively deal with it, and not have Phil/Tandy continue to scheme and lie to get back into the group’s good graces, which would put us squarely right back to where we were last season.