For its winter finale, The Last Man on Earth offers a fantastic ensemble episode and leaves the audience with two cliffhangers that have us ready for more!
On The Last Man on Earth Season 4 Episode 8, Carol and Erica fight over which of their infant daughters will get to marry and procreate with Jasper when they are older. Meanwhile, Todd struggles to act fatherly towards Jasper and seeks advice from Tandy.
"Not Appropriate for Miners" was a delightful Jasper-centric episode that gave Keith L. Williams some much-deserved time in the spotlight.
Since he joined the cast, Williams has mostly been in the background, with only a few lines and small moments here and there. He has provided the audience with a couple of laughs, but never before has he been given so much screen time.
He was the focal point of both major plots, and he held his own against the fantastic adults who were on screen with him. Williams has incredible comedic timing for a 10-year-old. His ability to deadpan had me laughing frequently throughout the episode. His exchange with Todd about the fireworks in the giraffe was particularly hysterical.
Todd: Jasper, did you just put a firework in that giraffe?
Todd: Are you lying?
Todd's desire to be a father has been both hilarious and heartbreaking to watch.
I applaud the writers for not having Melissa go back on her decision to not have children. Not every woman wants to be a mom, and that is rarely seen in the media. I am especially pleased that she has not changed her mind just to appease Todd.
My happiness about those writing decisions, though, does not negate the fact that seeing Todd's interactions with all of the children in recent episodes has ultimately made me sad that he will technically not have children. But since Jasper does not have any parents still alive, Todd is the perfect stand-in dad for him.
Todd spent most of "Not Appropriate for Miners" trying to discipline Jasper for things that Todd deemed inappropriate. Some of Jasper's decisions deserved a punishment, such as playing with and setting off fireworks. Occasionally, though, it seemed as though Todd was overcompensating with his discipline.
This could have happened for a few reasons: 1) Todd was so excited about having someone to parent that he wanted to get the full experience; 2) Todd could have wanted Jasper to feel like he had a parent who cared about him and his well-being; or 3) a combination of the two.
Whatever Todd's reason was, Mel Rodriguez was hilarious and vulnerable throughout the episode, playing off Williams and Will Forte well when his scenes called for it. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the entire storyline unfold.
Explosives are not appropriate for minors. They're for adults and for miners. Coal miners. It's a different minors.Todd
Besides Williams, the real star of this episode was January Jones. Melissa has taken a back seat in recent episodes.
When I saw Melissa find her sanctuary room at the beginning of "Not Appropriate for Miners," I was saddened by the thought of her being mostly M.I.A. for another episode. It turns out they were just saving January Jones' talent for the climax of the episode.
That final scene, where Melissa yells at the gang for their treatment of Jasper, was some of Jones' finest acting.
I always felt that Jones was one of the most underrated actors on Mad Men. She was fantastic as Betty Draper in both the dramatic and comedic moments. The Last Man on Earth allows her to do both as well.
There is a little boy out there who's confused and freaked out because all the people he thinks he can trust in the world are acting like raving lunatics. Guys, he's a 9- to 11-year-old boy.Melissa
The Last Man on Earth is relatable and entertaining enough that I am sometimes able to forget that it is a post-apocalyptic show. It does not give off the depressive feel that most shows of this genre do, mostly because it is a half-hour comedy.
The reminder that Jasper is a young boy who has lost his entire childhood to the virus was gut-wrenching. Erica and Carol were forcing him to grow up even faster with all of their talk about who he would marry in the future. Melissa beautifully and properly chastised the gang for their mistreatment of Jasper.
Although this episode was lacking in the comedic moments for Melissa, Jones did a great job with this major scene.
Overall, "Not Appropriate for Miners" was a great ensemble episode. With a cast this large and only 21 minutes of show each week, some characters are forced into the background from time-to-time. This episode gave each actor in the ensemble their own shining moment.
It was filled with laughs, and in true Last Man on Earth fashion, it ended with an exciting and shocking cliffhanger. Actually, it ended with two of them!
We have to wait until after the holiday hiatus to learn where Jasper is.
I hope he did not run away for good. We do not know how long he survived on his own before the gang found him, but he obviously has some decent survivor instincts for a young boy. I would hate to see him leave the gang permanently, though. I doubt he will, but I am still a bit nervous about it.
We also have to wait patiently to find out how Fred Armisen's new character managed to survive for so long while being in prison. What did he do to get in prison in the first place? How will the gang interact with a prisoner?
I already know Armisen is going to be a great addition to this cast. I thoroughly enjoy the parade of former Saturday Night Live stars that this show has become. Armisen's unique and quirky comedy style means he will fit right in, and I look forward to those interactions once the hiatus is over.
You cannot use logic to win an argument with Carol Pilbasian so just don't let her suck you in.Gail
Did you enjoy "Not Appropriate for Miners" as well? You can watch The Last Man on Earth online and share your thoughts with us! What do you think will happen when the show returns from hiatus?
Kaitlynn Smith is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.