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The Last Man on Earth 'La Abuela' [Season 4 Episode 5 Review]


***Spoilers Ahead***

La Abuela 

Kristen Schaal (left), Will Forte (right). photo: Kevin Estrada/FOX

While there have been fifty-four episodes of the series, The Last Man on Earth has never really focused on the pre-virus world. There were a few snippets in the pilot and Season 3's 'Got Milk' spent a full episode on it, but the series has mainly kept its distance from the past. 'La Abuela' brings back this much-needed element and blends it with some typical Last Man storylines. The result is a fresh outing that manages to raise the stakes by sprinkling some danger back into the show's diet.

First and foremost, the cartel plot completely steals the show. The over-the-top action scenes and engaging storyline would've been enough to fill up a full-length episode. Nevertheless, despite the short amount of time it receives, this plot still gives us some great new characters. I enjoyed the ruthless abuela mob boss and the murder plot that her henchmen crafted. But, the parallelism between present-day and 2017 was what added another layer to an already exceptional story. The way that the two entities were effortlessly stitched together gave off a unique, cinematic feel. Overall, I admire the way that Last Man can introduce new adventures and characters without making things feel out of place. Because of this, the series never loses its ability to change things up.

Outside of the cartel, the other portions of the episode focus on the separate problems that the four couples face (Tandy & Carol, Todd & Melissa, Gail & Erica, Jasper & Piñata). Out of these stories, Tandy & Carol's remains the most interesting one. It starts off fairly typical as Carol remains overly cautious about the safety of her unborn child. But, things take a rather morbid turn as she admits her fear of the baby catching the virus. Since no one knows the logistics of how the disease works, this is a serious topic to take into account. I'm glad that the series is addressing this scenario because it conveys that the threat of the virus is far from over.

The remaining three plots aren't as significant and meant more for comic relief. The Todd & Melissa story is as standard as one can get for a sitcom. But, that doesn't detract from the fact that it is able to tug at the heartstrings. The Gail & Erica plot opens up a new detail about Dawn, but it doesn't really go anywhere aside from providing us with Gail's hilarious advice about how to make her quiet. Finally, the Jasper plot involves his discovery of the same Piñata that seemingly had a bomb in it. But, at the last minute, we find out that the bomb is hidden elsewhere. That final moment took me by surprise since I expected the writers to finally kill Jasper off the show given they never seem to know what to do with him.

Overall, 'La Abuela' is a league above the past two installments. While some plots were unoriginal, the cartel story elevated the episode. Also, I liked how the looming threat of a bomb slipped into the show's circulation. Since the death of Pat, there hasn't been anything ready to jeopardize the fate of the characters at any moment. But, the hidden bomb gives an excuse to build suspense as we come closer to the fall finale. 

Stray Thoughts
  • I can't believe there were only be 8 episodes this fall. It feels like the season has barely started, yet we will be going back into hiatus after 3 more episodes.
  • Seriously, it's almost as if Jasper lost his ability to talk again. He hasn't uttered a word since the premiere!
  • Todd's pop-and-lock is always a treat.
  • Carol seemed to be indirectly advertising 'Shark Tank' which actually airs in the same timeslot as them on ABC.

Grade: B

What did you think of 'La Abuela'? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Catch an all-new episode next Sunday at 9:30/8:30c on FOX.