‘The Last Man on Earth’: Will Forte Breaks Down the Out-of-This-World Midseason Premiere

Jason Sudeikis on Last Man on Earth
Kevin Estrada/FOX
THE LAST MAN ON EARTH: Guest star Jason Sudeikis in the "Pitch Black" winter premiere episode of THE LAST MAN ON EARTH airing Sunday, March 6 (9:30-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Kevin Estrada/FOX

Spoiler alert! Stop reading if you haven’t watched the latest The Last Man on Earth episode.

Welcome to Earth, Captain Mike Miller (Jason Sudeikis).

The astronaut and brother to The Last Man on Earth‘s Phil “Tandy” Miller (Will Forte) survived his return trip from the International Space Station to his home planet on the spring premiere of the Fox comedy. After peddling around the ocean on a water bike for days, he encountered an eccentric sailboat captain named Pat (Mark Boone Junior), who informed Mike of the disease that decimated most of the world’s population. When Mike wanted to see this new reality for himself, Pat begrudgingly obliged, and the two men donned Hazmat suits for an adventure around Miami. But after Mike spotted one of Phil’s “Alive in Tuscon” billboards, the two men got into a physical altercation, with Pat ripping Mike’s suit and leaving the astronaut for dead with the rest of the bodies. However, Mike awoke to find himself perfectly healthy and set off to reunite with Phil in Arizona.

Forte, who also serves as showrunner, explains the significance of Mike’s standalone episode, what’s next on his journey to find his brother and what viewers can expect to see with Phil/Tandy and the rest of the group in Malibu next week.

Why did you decide to come back with a story solely devoted to Mike Miller?
Since the pilot episode, we’ve always been fascinated with the empty world. That’s one of the reasons we wanted to do the show in the first place. But back in the early days, we didn’t know what the public’s appetite would be for just seeing some dude fumfer around, so we took our best guess and introduced more characters. When we looked back, we might have slowed down the character introduction, but I love all the characters that have come in. We were trying to find the right build, and we didn’t know until all of our episodes were put together. So by the time we came back to the first episode of Season 2—that was when we figured out a way to get Carol (Kristen Schaal) and Tandy out on their own—we could explore that world a little bit more. Obviously, this was another chance for us to do that with Mike’s character. It’s a similar backdrop, but it’s his own different set of experiences. So we just thought it would be interesting to see how Mike would deal with it. And we threw a little wrench in there with the Pat character.

Could Pat make a return appearance in the future?
You never know!

One of Mike’s first questions to Pat—and a question that some fans of the show had after the pilot episode—was about where all the dead bodies were in the world. Why did you decide to finally address that issue?
That’s something we had in the original pilot. There was a body in the house that Phil/Tandy finds and moves into in the beginning. He goes up, sees a dead body in the bed, brings it out to the backyard, burns it and then gives a little eulogy and moves on. We thought that was a good way to explain that people just died in their houses. But there was a lot of negotiation back and forth between the studio and the network. We were doing so many things in that episode that were a little bit different than the normal pilot, and that was one thing that they felt strongly about, that they didn’t want any kind of dead body in it. But in the give and take of figuring out what’s comfortable for both of us, we thought that’s something we will concede on and try to get something else. We got to a place where we were very comfortable. But we would hear that from people and we always wanted to deal with that, so this was a time when we finally felt would be appropriate to do it. I think it would be weird if the rest of our characters stumbled upon somebody. There were different places where we thought we could address that, but this felt like the best way and it’s such an eerie moment when you see all the body bags. It all seems like it makes total sense now.

Mike is now on his way from Miami to Tucson. What will his journey be like?
We are building to something we’re really excited about. Hopefully people stay along for the ride because there is some really fun stuff in our future and we could not be more excited about the last couple of episodes that we’ve been putting together.

Next week we catch up with Tandy and the rest of the group in Malibu. What can we expect from Tandy and the others?
Tandy is always trying to be a better person, but he’s a dipstick. He’s always got a well-meaning approach, but his execution is a little lacking. What I can say is there are going to be a lot of major issues dealt with in this next batch of episodes. There are some big, big life moments—some positive, some negative—that are addressed, but I can’t tell you how excited I am by some of these episodes coming up. I think one of them is probably my favorite one we’ve done so far, but just having Jason Sudeikis a part of this thing has been very exciting and I as an audience member would love for him to find the people in Malibu. Whether he does, that’s not something I can comment on. I wish I knew, but I don’t know. OK, I do know. [Laughs]

The Last Man on Earth airs Sundays at 9:30/8:30c on Fox.