Have we seen the last of Mike Miller?
The Last Man on Earth Season 2 Episode 17 saw a heartbreaking turn of events take place. Mike potentially contracted the mystery virus that wiped out humanity and opted to leave the group, sparing Phil the pain of saying goodbye to his younger brother yet again.
I'd wondered more than once in my past reviews how the show would handle getting rid of Mike.
It seemed pretty clear that Mike would not be sticking around for good, given that Jason Sudeikis has a thriving career in film. He's been billed as a special guest star all along as well, which seemed to cement the fact that Mike would somehow leave the group.
This virus route was probably the best option. It would have felt disingenuous for Mike to simply up and leave, abandoning what is ostensibly the only community left on earth, because of some non-serious reason like Todd's jealousy and anger. This selfless move managed to provide a few very touching moments while still leaving the door open for Mike's eventual return, at some point down the road.
After all, Phil could be right – Mike might actually just have a cold. Right?
Yeah, probably not; but a girl can hope.
The main storyline throughout "Smart and Stupid" dealt with Mike developing an illness that most of the group (save Phil) believed was a strain of the virus that wiped out humanity. Everyone (save Phil) went into high alert once they discovered that the cow Mike had been handling earlier dropped dead within hours.
That cow survived the initial strain of the virus, indicating that it was immune to the virus just like the rest of the survivors, so having it die suddenly from whatever Mike passed along (if that's indeed what killed it) was a really bad sign that perhaps Mike's strain of the virus could actually infect each of them.
Phil, predictably, was in denial, insisting that Mike was simply suffering from a cold. Phil went so far as to demand that everyone sit around in hazmat suits, with Mike in a quarantine bubble, acting as though everything was completely normal.
To their credit, the group did give it a go, playing Catch Phrase while Mike was in his bubble – at least until Mike became (understandably) unnerved that every clue about a person included the face that the person was dead from the virus (or just "regular dead").
Once the cow was found dead, Phil stood up to the group after they attempted to remove Mike from the house, giving an impassioned and genuinely heartfelt speech about not abandoning his brother.
This is my brother, OK? My own flesh and blood. Until two weeks ago, I thought I had lost him forever. What are the chances? The entire world dies, there are seven of us, and my brother shows up. That is not a coincidence. I said goodbye to him once. I am not gonna do it again. He has a friggin' cold.Phil
Will Forte plays absurd/funny very well, but he's equally wonderful with more emotional and serious material.
In the midst of this health scare, Mike and Erica began to grow closer. This made a lot of sense, given that (as Erica said) she's the last single woman on earth. Despite being pregnant with another (dead) man's child.
Mike and Erica had surprisingly strong chemistry, given that Mike has only been around for a handful of weeks. Their early, pre-first date conversation also gave rise to what was easily the funniest moment of this rather somber installment – the reveal of Erica's secret past as a felon!
Erica: I got a job at the state department.
Mike: They hired you with a criminal record?
Erica: They didn't hire me. They hired Amanda Williams from Cleveland, Ohio. Majored in Political Science at The Ohio State University. Go Pi Phi! Go! Whoo!
There was just so much in this conversation that was so hilarious. I loved Erica's manner of explaining her very serious crime (friggin' armed bank robbery), shucking responsibility and acting as if it were all no big deal, just a complete "armed misunderstanding."
Cleopatra Coleman's delivery of the false identity she used to gain employment at the state department was amazing. Her excitable Ohio sorority girl accent? Perfect.
Probably the greatest part of this entire exchange was how completely nonchalant Mike was about this reveal. In fact, if anything, he was impressed by Erica's background, calling her the most interesting woman alive.
Their first and second dates – at a Hibachi restaurant where Mike role-played as "Chef Miyagi" and at the house with the plastic wall of a quarantine bubble between them – were very sweet as well. That kiss was a nice touch, though I hope that it didn't harm Erica's baby (if Mike actually does have the virus).
Poor Erica! This chick could not possibly have worse luck with men. Erica's new bond with Mike is part of the reason I'm sure they won't actually kill Mike off – instead, they'll have him leave to protect everyone else from his potential virus.
If Mike died, this would be the third death this season, which is a lot for a comedy – even if the comedy is an offbeat, absurd one like The Last Man on Earth. And killing off two of Erica's love interests within a few episodes of one another? That's a bit much.
Other subplots in this installment included Todd growing angrier and angrier about Phil's perceived abandonment of him in favor of Mike, and Gail's efforts to stop drinking. Both of these subplots have roots going back earlier in the season.
Gail has been drinking heavily for a while (heavier since Gordon's death, and heavier still since Phil 2's death), and people had been starting to actively comment on it for a while now. Gail's potential hallucination of a drone (or a flying pack of hair dryers...) was just the straw that broke the camel's back.
With Todd, the seeds of his discontent began to sprout during The Last Man on Earth Season 2 Episode 16, when Phil scrapped Todd's wedding to Carol in favor of Carol conceiving a child with Mike instead.
He tried to bottle up his anger then, acting out by aggressively break-dancing, but by the time of "Smart and Stupid," he was far too enraged to keep it hidden anymore.
Mel Rodriguez plays anger so well. It's both believable and silly at once. A few of his outbursts in this installment were particularly funny, like his unbridled rage after finding out that his former "bacon brother" Phil had finished off the last of the bacon with Mike.
And he was definitely not having it with any of Phil's jokey nicknames.
Phil: Oh, come on, Todd-ler!
Todd: I'm not a toddler! I'm a man.
- Carol's over-the-top pregnancy symptoms and mentions were so perfectly in character and hilarious. We saw her snacking on pickles, yammering on about "not drinking for two," and pretending that she was so heavily pregnant that she had trouble moving around at a normal speed. Oh, Carol. Nothing better happen to that baby!
- Phil going along with Mike's jokes about the Godfather and then the reveal that he clearly had never seen the Godfather movies (not understanding the voice Mike was putting on) was a small moment, but a great gag.
- "Dead guy who played Newman on Seinfeld."
- Was I the only one tearing up at the visual of Phil standing in the quarantine bubble reading Mike's goodbye note as it slowly deflated around him? Oh, Phil.
What did you think of "Smart and Stupid"? What will become of Mike Miller? Chime in by leaving a comment below and watch The Last Man on Earth online here at TV Fanatic to catch up on any episodes you might have missed!
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.