The Last Man On Earth / Fox

This week’s episode of The Last Man On Earth features not one, but two guest stars. First, Kristen Wiig as Pamela Brinton, a former socialite and philanthropist who sought shelter in an underground bunker for three years, slowly found the gang aboard their yacht, alienated them all with her haughty behavior, and then kidnapped Tandy after hearing the others would abandon her at the drop of the hat. Second, Chris Elliott as Glenn, a man who has been on a deserted island for five years, completely cut off from civilization, and unaware that a deadly virus has wiped out humanity.

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“Stocko Syndrome” naturally leans on Wiig and Elliott’s performances to mostly positive results. Since the series has previously established Wiig’s character and her affluent impulsivity, she gets to let loose with Pamela’s unhinged nature and play off Forte’s faux-confidence. Unfortunately, Elliott’s character gets comparatively sidelined, as the script, credited to Megan Ganz and Tim McAuliffe, has to barrel through his story in order to reunite Tandy with the rest of the gang. Elliott’s patented affable, offbeat shtick largely makes it work, but the double guest start approach hampered a more in-depth introduction.

It’s a shame, too, because Elliott’s story is ripe with possibility. As the gang washes on shore, they quickly find Glenn, a disheveled man with only a crude wooden companion/sex doll modeled after Eva Mendes to keep him company. They soon discover he doesn’t know about the virus and thinks that his family is still waiting for him. Todd tries to tell him, but he’s unable to stomp out Glenn’s optimism, which has clearly kept him alive all these years. Glenn spends most of his days waiting for a passing plane or a ship so he can light his one signal fire and get on home.

Once Carol learns about the signal fire, she demands Glenn light it to get Tandy’s attention, even though he wants to save it for a surer thing. Carol finally spills the beans and tells him that they’re the last remaining survivors on Earth, devastating Glenn who had spent the last five years hoping for a rescue that would never come. It’s a nice moment that LMOE generally does quite well, but “Stocko Syndrome” compresses Glenn’s whole range of emotions into a little under a scene. Glenn comes to term with his new reality and Carol apologizes for her blunt reveal a little too quickly for it to have the impact it should.

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Meanwhile, Pamela has tied Tandy up on the yacht in the hope that he’ll develop Stockholm syndrome and fall in love with her. This half of the episode is, shall we say, a little bit broader than the Elliott half. It features Wiig and Forte performing a duet of Christopher Cross’ “Sailing,” a scene when Tandy breaks through rope with his uncut toenail, and, finally, another scene when Tandy threatens to eat Pamela’s dog’s butt. The tone is all over the place, but Forte and Wiig keeps things light on their feet, even when the performances threaten to turn hammy, e.g. when Tandy tries to seduce Pamela so she would free him.

Of course, Tandy and Pamela find their way to the island after seeing Carol’s signal fire. Though the gang is ready to leave Pamela on the island alone after her latest display, Glenn convinces them to bring her along since she clearly won’t survive on her own. Carol adds one condition: She isn’t allowed on the yacht, but only on the attached life raft. Nevertheless, Pamela is thrilled, and the gang, now with two more members, can finally set sail for a brighter tomorrow.

Stray observations

  • There’s no good place for this in the main body of the recap, but it’s a minor stroke of brilliance to end the episode with “Cain Skiffle” from Tim Heidecker’s 2012 album Cainthology: Songs In The Key Of Cain dedicated to former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain. Listen to the song at your own leisure.
  • A weird sight gag: In one scene, it appears that Pamela is reading a book entitled Can’t Holt Me Back! by NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt. No such book exists in real life.
  • “Yes, it’s a boner, Gary. You’d get one too if you couldn’t stop thinking about Pamela!”
  • “Tricks are for kids, and I’m 43 years old.”
  • “Stop it. I was alone in a bunker for three years so you’ll excuse me if I’m Michael Jackson’s doctor right now…all out of patients.”
  • “Jeremy! I knew I shouldn’t give you that bowl of wine.”
  • “That’d be like buying Freddy Kruger a condominium on Elm Street!”

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