‘The Last Man on Earth’ Closes out Season 4 With Its Fate Unclear

Viewers have now been left wondering if the end is near for Fox’s “The Last Man on Earth.” Season 4 decided to sail across the border in order for its gang of post-apocalyptic survivors to find refuge in Mexico. Of course the usual problems tagged along like loneliness, uncertainty and every other hassle that comes with keeping a group together. But when their perceived getaway in the form of a narco lord’s mansion turned out to house dark secrets, the gang, led by our hero Tandy (Will Forte), decided to pack their bags. But the finale, titled “Cancun Baby!,” ends in the most sudden way, leaving a window open for the show to either return or simply call it quits.

In the penultimate episode, Todd (Mel Rodriguez) discovered that the mansion in Zihuatanejo, where the gang was crashing, was once a narco torture chamber, full of quite a large amount of cocaine, weapons and dead bodies. It seems like a good excuse to leave. Even as the world continues to writhe in the aftershocks of a cataclysmic virus, old American habits die hard and the group decides to move to Cancun. Carol (Kristen Schaal), Erica (Cleopatra Coleman), Melissa (January Jones), Gail (Mary Steenburgen), Todd and Tandy’s brother, Mike (Jason Sudeikis) begin making preparations. But how will they transport themselves and their belongings? Easy, they simply acquire an old Mexican train car baring the face of historical icon Benito Juarez and attach it to a semi-truck. But as everyone prepares their latest exodus, a melancholy mood takes over because Tandy is not too keen on leaving. After he and Mike find an abandoned home that reminds him of his grandmother’s old house, Tandy suffers the sudden loss of his robot dog Clancy, whose batteries die. Lo and behold, just as Clancy expires Tandy sees a real dog nearby, the first he’s seen since the world fell apart. Maybe there should not be a rush for Cancun, after all, everything is over already.

For a show built on making fun of the apocalypse, “The Last Man on Earth” closed its fourth season with more of a somber reflection. The scenes in the train car and around the mansion all have the air of a cast doing one last romp before closing curtains. All of season four has been a funny round of the tone and jokes that have made the show a hit. It is about group dynamics and personal issues, but framed with an end times backdrop. Carol and Tandy have another baby, and other characters such as Todd grew in interesting ways. Todd spent a good chunk of the season trying to get some of the other women in the group to have his baby, until Erica finally agreed. Before that he suffered a heart attack from drinking too many energy drinks, another habit even the end of civilization can’t erase. At one point the group freed a prisoner in an underground Mexican jail, only to discover he was a cannibal. All this as they grapple with relationships, getting along and other symptoms of large groups. But in “Cancun Baby!” there is a general sense of it all winding down.

This feeling is particularly palpable in the finale’s goodbye moments. Mike decides to hit the road and Tandy says goodbye by cutting off his rattail, then proceeding to tape it to the back of Mike’s head as a memento. After accidentally killing the group’s two goats while attempting to blow up the narco mansion, Tandy agrees they should stop in a place called Tapachula to retrieve the rest of their herd and carry on. But here the writers decide to pause, and instead of focusing on some bigger journey ahead for the series, they let Tandy ponder the area’s fertile land and rich water resources. He concludes everything they need is right here. What more could Cancun offer (although one can imagine the post-apocalyptic debauchery that place would relish in). “The Last Man on Earth” has always featured some decent twists, here the final shot brings back the masked strangers from an underground bunker discovered by the gang earlier in the season. They appear to surround the area where the gang has parked, then the screen cuts to black. So what happens now? That’s the question everyone is left asking. Fox has not confirmed the approval of a fifth season, so if this is indeed the end, then “The Last Man on Earth” has decided to go against type. No mushroom clouds or second comings, this show wants to end with a somber smile, if this is indeed the end of the line.

The show’s satirical sense of humor is still present here, especially when Erica ponders that there are so many guns in the mansion that “it’s almost like we never left America.” This is a series that takes the imagery of shows like “The Walking Dead” and plays it all down for fun and farce. Who knows, it might be a more realistic portrayal of how we would actually behave if a viral cataclysm struck civilization. Would we become buffed survivalists or remain goofballs? Such is the charm of this small show. Now we wait to see what road these characters will take, if there is indeed any road left.

The Last Man on Earth” Season 4 finale aired May 6 at 9:30 p.m. ET on FOX.