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The Last Man on Earth - Karl/Paint Misbehavin' - Double Review

After a short winter break, The Last Man on Earth came back for a quick run on Fox (before another break) with "Karl" and "Paint Misbehavin'" - two episodes mostly centered on the arrival of Fred Armisen in the show. Let's review.

Karl

In this backstory episode, The Last Man on Earth introduced viewers to the inmate that appeared in the show before winter break. His name is Karl Cowperthwaite (Fred Armisen) and he is a very dangerous man. We are talking serial-killer-who-eats-his-victims kind of dangerous. He is obviously deranged and was almost caught in the United States several times before he had to find refuge in Mexico. As the episode moves along, we can see that Karl is a killer who cannot help himself because he is hungry for human flesh. After committing more murders and keeping up with cannibalism, he was jailed in Mexico, which led him to get stuck there once the virus came around. It's a sad, dark and morbid story that the show tells in this episode. After the virus, Karl became friend with a prison guard that was the only other survivor in the building, but Karl managed to mess that up and killed the guy. That led him to being completely alone for years, until he crossed path with Tandy (Will Forte) and Todd (Mel Rodriguez).

Just like any other episode that is not centered on the main group of characters from the show, "Karl" works because it actually has an interesting, compelling story to tell and is devoid of cringe-worthy humor. There are not many awkward moments here, and it gives the show the opportunity to breathe. Gross scenes however? For sure. It seems like The Last Man on Earth is almost at its best when it's not forcing its characters to act like a bunch of lunatics, but that being said, sometimes that works too, as it is the case in "Paint Misbehavin'".

Paint Misbehavin'

Once Karl meets Tandy and Todd, he pretends to be someone else and presents himself as a prison guard who accidentally got himself locked in the prison. He tries to fight his cannibal instincts to fit within the group, but it's not easy being somebody else. Everyone seems to like him so Karl does his best to control his urges...until he sees Gale (Mary Steenburgen) accidentally burn herself. Burnt flesh reignites his love for human as food and he quickly goes down a rabbit hole. Tandy catches him acting suspiciously and raises his concerns to the group, but Tandy being who he is, nobody really believes him. But when
Tandy catches Karl eating (yes, literally) a bandage that used to cover Gale's injured finger, he tells Todd who agrees that yes, that is a super messed up thing to do. The duo decides to follow Karl to find out what is up with him and that leads them to a cemetery where they witness Karl digging a casket out of the ground and eating its content. Ewwww. But here is where things get interesting: In the midst of an episode that remains quite predictable, Jasper is still missing. We get a sense that Melissa (January Jones) is on his side though and is helping him through his runaway time, but she does not know there is a cannibal/killer on the lose, and she does not know that Jasper would probably be a pretty appetizing pray for him. Karl struggles with his instincts, he even came close to hurting Gale, so what could he have in store for poor Jasper if he finds him? We'll see what happens next on The Last Man on Earth in March.


That's my take, what did you think of these episodes?


 
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