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The power turns on for the Last Man On Earth gang

“We’re home.”

B+
B+

The Last Man On Earth

"The Power Of Power"

Season 3 , Episode 5

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When we last left The Last Man On Earth gang, they had just discovered a beam of light over the horizon, a glimmer of hope in a cruel desert, at the precise moment when the stability of the group was called into question. The mysterious light turned out to be from a fully powered, abandoned office building, which the gang approaches cautiously, like in the presence of a deity. When they enter, they’re blessed with air conditioning, frozen pizza, and the pièce de résistance, a working toilet, whose flush is treated with awe from the crew. “We’re home,” Tandy says, with his patented over-satisfied smirk.

Much of the episode’s first act involves the gang becoming ingratiated with their new home. They’re excited about the power, but also the space and the sense of freedom it represents, all except Lewis, who provides reasonable pushback regarding whether they can make the building a home. “The Power Of Power” is at its best in this section, when the ensemble is allowed to let loose and bounce off each other without an artificial plotline to create superficial tension. Tandy go-carts around an empty floor like a loon. The margarita pool makes a stunning return. People are comfortable and pleased. However, the paradise turns sour when suddenly the power goes out, and everyone’s forced to use candles and eat cold pizza.

The next morning, Tandy starts randomly flipping fuses and eventually lands on the one that turns the power back on, but now paranoia and uncertainty have crept into the picture, which only increases when a ceiling structure falls and almost crushes Carol. Tandy tries to assuage everybody of their worries about their new home, only for him to discover a pair of wire cutters underneath a nearby couch, implying that one of their own plans to sabotage their slide of heaven. This is when “The Power Of Power” becomes more rote and a little less fun, as Tandy goes through the predictable steps of assuming Lewis is the culprit only to eventually be proven wrong. Tandy mania can be fun when it’s pushed to the extreme, but here, it’s pretty restrained and boring. No reasonable viewer expects Tandy to be right, and credited writer Matt Marshall stacks the deck against him, so we’re subject to some lame snooping and whatnot only for Tandy to realize his mistake.

Meanwhile, the love triangle between Gail, Todd, and Melissa develops nicely in this episode. Gail eventually admits to Todd that she’s ready to be alone and that he should focus his time on Melissa, who’s still clearly reeling from her murder in the season premiere. It’s a sweet scene played completely straight by Mary Steenburgen that treats Gail and Todd’s emotions with care and doesn’t feel the need to turn the bit into a joke, even if Todd is showering using a fire sprinkler. The same sentiments are repeated in a different context when Todd meets Melissa to tell her about his breakup with Gail. Fearing that he can’t get through to her now that she’s become so distant, he approaches her delicately, a good move considering that he sees her shooting desk chairs with a gun. When Todd tells Melissa the news, she’s initially unaffected and monosyllabic, but eventually embraces him and admits that she would be lost without him. Again, it’s another moment sold entirely by the actors, not just January Jones’ sincerity but also Mel Rodriguez’s moved reaction, that relies on respecting the characters’ emotions.

That trend continues in the final act when Tandy confronts Carol about her sabotaging the office building. Clearly embarrassed, she explains that she just didn’t see herself making a home in a place that wasn’t already a home. Her vision is standard—small house, white picket fence, etc.—but it clearly means a lot to her, something that Tandy never picked up on. He suggests the two of them move on, but she accepts that home is wherever they are together. Though Carol is placed in the pillory for her behavior, Tandy makes her a version of her dream home on their floor of the office building to make up for it. It’s a nice gesture that stands wonderfully among the other nice gestures in the episode. If “The Power Of Power” has any central motif, it’s people reaching out to a significant other to communicate their desires and fears, even if it means some kind of compromise.

Stray observations

  • We end on Melissa either reaching some kind of breakthrough or slipping further into PTSD as she burns all of her clothes and decides she wants to have a child with Todd. We’ll see how that plays out.
  • The shower scenes are delightful, especially that they get them to work using torches.
  • I wonder about the story of the building. Is it a tech startup sorta place? Why is it so fancy?
  • Tandy gets a brain freeze from Gail pouring a pitcher of margaritas in his mouth while he luxuriates in his pool. “Worth it!”