TV Review: The Last Man on Earth (3×05): “The Power of Power”

 

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Each episode of this season of The Last Man on Earth has picked up right where the last left off. This is probably going to make it a season better watched as a whole in a binge marathon than once a week on network television.

This is important to an episode like this week’s “The Power of Power”, which feels a little anemic as a standalone episode following a brief hiatus. The major plot point in the episode that we finally get inside the miracle, powered building the group stumbled upon last time. It seems to have belonged to some start-up social media company (which only begs the question where they are exactly in California – Sunnyvale? Mountain View?) and has a bunch of perks that must seem like an utter miracle to our group after all this time – greywater toilets, I’m guessing solar power(?), frozen pizza, the works. It is, basically, the perfect place for the band of survivors to stay. Except there are a few members who are less than enthused.

The remainder of the episode is where I think it falls flat. After all the group has gone though, it would have been nice for there to have been a breather episode devoted to all the crazy stuff in this building. Instead, the show opts to create a series of incidents – blown fuses, cut wires to weird art pieces, water pressure – that Tandy immmediately blames on Lewis.

We’ve spent five episodes now with Lewis, and it seems like that character has yet to grow any more complex than “the guy who doesn’t like or understand Tandy. At the very least, it’s more characterization than Erica has gotten in two seasons, but it would be nice for the writers to move his character beyond being Tandy’s new antagonist – real or imaginary.

Of course, it’s not Lewis that sabotaged the house, but Carol. If you’re watching closely, you can tell that Carol isn’t happy with the place all episode long without her ever saying a word, due to Kristen Schaal’s wonderfully subtle acting throughout. This is a decent twist, but one you might be able to tell coming. Her reasonings are sweet, though, and the ending conversation between her and Tandy are a good indicator of why they are one of television’s best married couples. Particually, the tiny house that Tandy built in that parking garage is one of his greatest selfless gestures.

The best part of this episode comes not from the A-plot but the secondary plot featuring the corrosion of the Todd-Melissa-Gail love triangle. Gail has decided to break up with Todd out of pure exhaustion, and Todd is disturbed by Melissa lack of human empathy. Ever since killing Daryll (Jon Hamm) in the premiere, Melissa has taken a complete break from reality with Todd as her only anchor. A brief, sweet encounter where Melissa tells Todd how much she cares about him carries the entire episode in just 20 seconds. Weirdly, January Jones’ detached performance of the Melissa has given the character a lot more depth than she had when she originally showed. As the season progresses, it will be interesting to see the culmination of her anti-social behavior.

“The Power of Power” is not a bad episode, but the A-plot feels like wasted potential. I’d love to see more this building before the crew inevitably ditches it for somewhere more scenic, and from the looks of the next episode, we’ll be getting exactly that.

Rating: 7/10

Ryan Gibbs is the music editor for The Young Folks. He is based in Newport, Rhode Island.