Phil Miller wasn't so great at being the last person on Earth, but it turns out that, when you throw other people into the mix, he's still not a winner. But as the situation in Tucson gets more complicated, Phil has to come to terms with the fact that he's not a very nice person. But can he change?
So Phil pretty much hates his life at this point. Melissa hates him and is totally lovey-dovey with Todd. He's still married to Carol, who sleeps with a sleep apnea mask and has taken to defacing his priceless paintings. (It's sacrilege, but her poodle on the Monet did make me smile. It's a shame no art restorers are living in Tucson, though.) The Grievance Board is covered in gripes about him. But in "The Do-Over" and "Pranks for Nothing," he figures he's due for a change.
Phil is convinced that, if he had another go at things, he would get it right. As he burns everything on Carol's shopping/honey-do list (Phil is still Tucson's resident god of destruction), he asks God for a second chance, a do-over. God (or rather, the show's writers) answer by delivering another car, this one containing two beautiful women: Gail (Mary Steenburgen) and Erica (Cleopatra Coleman). Naturally, they're delighted to see another human being. And naturally, Phil begins his relationship with them on a major lie. He tells them he's the only person in Tucson.
Phil is determined to seduce these two free-spirited ladies, but even as the (faux) last man on Earth, Phil manages to put them off. With one comment, he reduces them to their age (Gail) and race (Erica), and when he can't figure out how to wrench his foot from his mouth, he lies again. He tells them about his "dead" wife Carol and how he cared for her during a long and painful illness. That gets the women back on his side, at least momentarily.
What's incredible about Phil isn't how much he lies so much to everyone else; it's how much he lies to himself. Phil's more benevolent plots work out, but his more selfish, sinister ones never go well. Now sure, he couldn't have predicted Todd showing up to interrupt his attempted coitus with Melissa, but did he really think he could hide Gail and Erica and the cul-de-sac dwellers from each other?
When the others realize his deception, Phil tries out another lie, claiming that this was all a prank. No matter how unconvinced the others are, Phil stands by not just his latest lie — but even his earlier lie about his dead wife Carol. This earns him a shunning from the rest of the group and leaves Carol with a broken heart.
Carol is, for her part, pretty nasty to the newcomers, but it's easy to see why she's lashing out. It must suck when your husband wants to screw every woman left on Earth except for you.
She also has a pretty spectacular confrontation with Phil, where she pretends to be the ghost of his dead wife and unleashes a string of G-rated, animal-themed swears. ("You are nothing but a sewer rat, you dub donkey, just catting around like the cock of the walk! Well guess what, you skunk? You just sprayed the wrong dog.") I love you, Carol. I kind of wish this show was still just you and Phil.
Phil has another hilariously devious idea, and camouflages himself while eavesdropping on the others with a listening dish. (This makes for a great visual, and reminds me that The Last Man on Earth is particularly great at playing with slightly surreal humor.) But when he hears Melissa call him a pathological liar, something in his brain starts to click. He thinks of all the lies he's told over the course of the season — big lies and pointless, little lies. (Why the hell did he tell everyone he was lactose intolerant?) So he tries a fresh idea: the truth.
Phil confesses all of his lies at the fire pit, admitting that hiding Gail and Erica wasn't a prank, that he is deeply attracted to Melissa, that he didn't write "Fields of Gold" with Sting. (Man, Todd will believe just about anything.) But his biggest, saddest admission is for Carol: that they never should have gotten married in the first place. He acknowledges that he hurt her and he apologizes. Wow. Phil has a soul.
But actually, the biggest growth moment for Phil in this whole speech is when he tells the others, "Look, I don't expect this to change the way that any of you guys feel about me." Phil has been trying to smooth over every little rough patch with lies. And now that he has burned all of his relationships to the ground, all he has left is the truth.
He's pretty immediately rewarded for his walk on the honest side. Carol is initially wounded by his unburdening, but she shows up at the bar later with divorce papers and a smile. What's sort of funny is that, once Phil signs the papers, he and Carol briefly make out. Perhaps they're just accustomed to the physicality, but there's clearly still some chemistry between Phil and Carol.
So does this mean that Phil is turning over a new leaf? Perhaps not. He's turned over a lot of little leaves, but that hasn't necessarily made him a better person. But at least now he's not living under the weight of his lies. But with three episodes left in the season, he still has time to spin a few dozen more.