In the midseason finale, Tandy and Todd found themselves outside of a prison while looking for Jasper. Inside the prison, the audience saw a bearded Fred Armisen. His character’s name is Karl, and this is his story.
The episode opens with Karl, pre-virus, on a date with the beautiful Leighton Meester. He passionately tells her about a boil he once has while she looks disgusted, clearly uninterested in this date. After ordering two garden salads and “a soup to share. One spoon,” Karl asks if she’s ever been painted. When she says no, he insists she come home with him so he can paint her like Jack painted Rose. Leighton fakes an escape call, saying her friend just informed her that her own dog is sick.
Karl goes home alone and puts his leftover soup from the restaurant in his fridge. He opens his freezer to get ice cream, and there’s casually a frozen severed head and hand.
The next morning, Karl puts the head in the microwave and calls his mom for cooking advice. While chopping carrots, he realizes he forgot to buy bouillon. He calls over to his dog, Zeus, and the two go to the store together. Standing across the street from his apartment, he sees several police cars pull up suddenly, presumably looking for him. He runs away, leaving his dog. While driving down the road, he gets a notification on his phone for a fugitive alert in the area. From this text, we know Karl is from New Mexico. He needs to change cars, since he’s now more likely to be caught in his green sedan.
Karl pulls to the side of the road and waves down an approaching SUV. He asks the driver (Hi Martin Short!) if he could help change his tire. The trusting man isn’t at all sketched out by the axe in Karl’s trunk, but he should be. While Martin’s focus is elsewhere, Karl splits his head open with the axe and steals the SUV.
Once in Mexico, Karl finds a man selling paintings and offers to buy all of them. He takes them back to his new apartment and signs his name in the corner of them all, pretending he made them. A man models for him as he paints a very juvenile painting. He steps out of the room for a minute to find a ‘more appropriate brush.’ Really, he’s finding a knife and prepping for murder. However, Paco gets thirsty and heads over to the fridge for a drink. His eyes go wide, because, of course, there’s a severed head in the fridge. When Karl returns from his room, the fridge and apartment doors are both wide open. Karl grabs the head and flees the scene.
At a motel, Karl yells at himself to stop. In the middle of the night, police burst into his room and Karl tries to say that their suspect already took off. One of the officers opens the mini fridge, and the severed head is inside. Karl tries to feign ignorance, but they read him his rights and cart him away.
Karl stands in a lineup at the prison, waiting to be identified by the man from his apartment. He’s spotted immediately. After being thrown in prison, we see Karl out in the jail yard painting a picture of a fellow inmate, Javier. He asks Javier to turn around so he can capture his back tattoo. Once he’s facing the opposite direction, Karl pulls out a shiv, planning his attack. Before he can do anything, Javier falls to the ground, dead. Horns blare and all of the prisoners drop to the ground. Guards come to remove the body. Before anyone gets up, Karl calls over to another inmate, asking if he’s ever been painted.
Later, Karl asks a passing guard wearing a face mask if Javier is okay. (If you’re not following along, Javier died of The Virus, and the guards are wearing masks to stay safe.) Flash forward and Karl is back out in the jail yard, but this time he’s painting an apple. Zoom out and you see he’s the only one there, until a guard named Martinez comes out to escort Karl back to his cell. Karl says it’s lonely in his cell alone, and that if Martinez ever wants to talk, he’ll be there.
Eventually Martinez returns with beer. He asks about Karl’s name, and then we skip ahead to the two laughing and joking, getting to know each other like future best friends. Karl is no longer confined to his cell, but is in a straight jacket and strapped down. Karl asks Martinez why he’s still at the prison. He states that his family and friends are all dead.
In the morning (or a morning. The timeline isn’t very clear), Martinez tells Karl that today is his last day at the prison. He has heard that people are alive in Tapachula, and he wants to see if it’s true. Karl wants to be released from his cell, but Martinez says he can’t do that since Karl is a serial killer. He leaves Karl with two months of canned food and a noose.
Karl sticks his hand out for a handshake, and when Martinez grabs it, Karl pulls him forward and sits his throat with a can opener. He swears he isn’t a killer anymore but that he had to kill Martinez because he wouldn’t let him free. He grabs the keys, frees himself, and runs through the prison until he’s stopped by a lock with a passcode.
Since he was unsuccessful with escaping through the prison doors, he tries to climb the fence. He tries stacking chairs, a makeshift pole vault, an explosion, and a pair of wings. Once it’s clear that that is hopeless, he attempts the passcode again, trying every five digit combination in order. The power goes out, leaving him just as hopeless as ever.
Enough time passes for him to grow a full beard. Karl visits the grave of his good friend Martinez. He tells Martinez that he’s getting out today, and he heads over to his noose. When he is a few feet away from the noose, he hears a horn beeping. Excited at the possibility of life, Karl causes as much noise as he can, hoping to draw attention to himself.
He sees his reflection in the mirror and decides to clean up first. Todd and Tandy rush into the prison, hoping to find Jasper. They run into Karl wearing Martinez’s jumpsuit and he introduces himself, saying “Hi. I’m Karl.”
Are our survivors in trouble with a murder-addict in the mix? Whom will Karl try to kill next? Tune in to The Last Man on Earth to see where this goes!