October 18th, 9:30pm, FOX
The question of redemption – and whether one can really make up for past misdeeds – was at the center of “C to the T.” An equally important question posed this episode was whether the benefit of gorging on delicious cheese outweighed the cost of further straining already rocky relationships. The latter question was answered right away and it’s hard to dispute – yes, take the risk. The other one is more difficult to solve. While this episode doesn’t provide any definitive answers, it adds the complication of whether it’s worth the trouble when the people one is seeking to make amends with are becoming increasingly awful themselves.
“C to the T” picks up where last week left off, with Phil locked in the stocks after he held the gang at gunpoint in a terribly misguided attempt to apologize for all of his lies and deception in Tucson. Despite Carol’s protests about Phil’s treatment, the other Phil contends that he needs to be punished. “He did the crime, now he’s got to do the time.”
Phil runs with this logic – starting by asking to be referred to as Tandy, now that there are two Phil Millers in the group once again. He further argues that a suggested week in solitary confinement isn’t enough and contends that five weeks of confinement would be more appropriate.
But early into his solitary confinement, Phil is quickly tempted to break his promise at the sight of cheese that was left out by Carol and Melissa. Moments after stuffing a big glob of it in his face, Phil feels remorse for not even being strong enough to even resist cheese while trying to repair his fractured relationships, despite all the proclamations that he’s a changed man.
Once he’s caught by Melissa after a not-so-stealthy attempt to return to solitary confinement, Phil is even more open to increasingly torturous methods of punishment – including a collar that shocks to keep him from moving very far and another one that sprays to prevent him from talking. As Phil accepts greater and greater forms of punishment, he seeks some recognition from the rest of the group of these sacrifices. But instead, he continues to only receive their resentment through eye rolls and taunting.
As much as he’s willing to accept pain and punishment for his misdeeds, very little of that appears to matter to anyone in the group outside of Carol – who does her best to try to make Phil more comfortable. Through these actions, and a hilarious attempt at charades, the rest of the group ends up revealing that they too are capable of being close to as vindictive and mean as Phil in their own ways.
But Phil is finally given an opportunity to turn their opinions on him around when he spots a fire near the house. He breaks out of a shed in which he is locked and endures pain from the collars to put out the fire and save the group. Phil then quietly returns to the shed and passes out. The group is eventually able to piece together what happened and they grudgingly release Phil while making it clear that they still don’t intend to act friendly toward him.
In the early episodes of this season, The Last Man On Earth has effectively gotten around the problems with Phil’s behavior last season – namely a one-track mind focused on having sex, particularly with Melissa. But while Phil has become more of a palatable character this season, the supporting cast outside of Carol has had little to do. Indeed, they can largely be referred to collectively, as there is little to define any of them recently. Gail and Erica did little more than complain about Phil in this episode. Melissa and Todd have a brief chat with Carol, but similarly mostly just show animosity toward Phil.
While the mysteriousness surrounding Todd’s late-night adventures suggests the potential for the supporting cast to be focused upon more in future plots, the show so far has mainly gone from having an unlikeable main character to unlikeable supporting characters.
“C to the T” is at its best during the moments focused on Phil’s tragic yet comic desperation to get accepted back into the group by any means necessary. But the bland, uniform and sometimes cruel response to Phil’s return by the rest of the characters does the rest of the show a disservice – at least so far this season.
- “I’m going to need change of pants. Maybe some underwear too. And some shoes, for sure.” Will Forte’s delivery here was on point.
- “For the next few weeks, I have a new wife, and her name is Lady Justice.”
- “Hey little girl, do you want some candy?”
"C to the T" is at its best during the moments focused on Phil's tragic yet comic desperation to get accepted back into the group by any means necessary.