“This is a grade-A fustercluck,” Carol begins the episode saying. And she couldn’t be more right.
Last week we got to see Phil freak out in his quest to find an accidentally abandoned Carol, but this week starts with Carol’s perspective — one that might actually be bleaker than Phil’s. While he can actively search for her, Carol’s pretty much stuck staying in one place (that place being an Oklahoma gas station), simply waiting and patiently hoping that Phil is innovative enough to find a way back to her.
By the time we see Carol again, her Oklahoma shirt — the one that was initially plain — is now completely covered in fake jewels. She’s dipping Slim Jims into what looks like canned nacho cheese. She’s making sculptures of Phil out of chewing tobacco and toothpaste. And she’s chatting up one of those tall, dancing balloons that usually flop around in front of car dealerships. “You’ve been at it all day; let me tap in,” she tells it before getting up and trying to emulate the wacky dance à la Sweet Dee on It’s Always Sunny. I impatiently wait the day when enough of these moments exist in TV and movies to make a supercut.
Meanwhile, Phil’s back in Tucson and trying to figure out a way to tell Carol where he is. First, inspired by a coverline on one of his dirty magazines that reads “Betty’s Bodacious Balloons,” he writes messages on a bunch of actual balloons and throws them in the air. Needless to say, that method does not work the way he wants it to.
But then he sees a railroad, and a real good idea strikes: He writes out a giant message on a series of train cars and sends the locomotive on its merry way. Somehow, magically, it works: Just after setting her balloon friend on fire with her two final road flares in an attempt to get Phil’s attention, Carol wakes up to the noise of the train barreling through. “Carol, it’s me Phil,” the giant note reads. “I’m not on the train. I’m in Tucson.”
There are some problems with this, most notably the unlikelihood that Carol would be right by this railroad. But this isn’t a show that necessarily strives for realism, and this whole situation is romantic in a way only a post-apocalyptic rom-com could be, so believing in this magical coincidence isn’t that hard.
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Adding to the magic, Carol finally makes her way to a particularly devastated Phil, whose next idea was to send a steamroller on the road — that is, that was the idea before the steamroller crushed poor Brice. “He just got the wind knocked out of him!” Phil says of the now-deflated soccer ball. It’s a laugh-out-loud funny line that lightens up the surprisingly dark mood: The world Phil inhabits is a completely foreign one to us, one where inanimate soccer balls are just as important to this guy as living, breathing humans. So when Brice gets run over, Phil’s hysterical reaction is funny and weirdly understandable — you’d panic too if one of your last friends on earth almost died, wouldn’t you?
The scene goes from sadly amusing to straight-up sad though when he slaps himself multiple times and cries that he deserves to be alone. Fortunately, this is right when Carol shows up. They kiss; she calls him a “love conductor”; they strip and have sex right then and there. Basically, it’s a scene straight out of a Nicholas Sparks movie (if Nicholas Sparks movies were purposely funny).
NEXT: Phil finds out where everyone else is