After what feels like a long enough hibernation, “The Last Man on Earth” returned for its Season 3 winter premiere on Sunday (March 5):

Peeling back the curtain on life before the virus, the series introduced a completely new character not yet connected to Tandy’s (Will Forte) group of survivors: Pamela Brinton (Kristen Wiig).

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Opening on an auction to raise funds for the Pamela Brinton Foundation — an association raising awareness of the very real issue of canine hip dysplasia — we’re given a closer look at this new character and the life she led before the world ended. It’s evident Brinton lived a life of luxury, the story teasing a subtle status war with another woman of privilege, Catherine — played by the always talented Laura Dern.

A strong flu season in this near-future — let the words “President Pence” sink in — soon devolves into a population killer: Riding in her limo, Pamela witnesses the falling of civilization around her — finally leading to her own realization that a life change must be made in order for her to survive.

And so, after learning of the bunker Catherine and her husband purchased — and with the devastating deaths of her husband and former rival — Brinton dons her protective garbage bag outfit, and heads out into the wasteland to track down this underground haven.

For all she knows, Pamela Brinton is the last woman on earth.

last man on earth kristen wiig 1 The Last Man on Earth shifts focus, revealing the last woman on earth

Echoing Tandy’s hopeless days before meeting Carol (Kristen Schaal) and the rest of the gang, what transpires are multiple years of solitude with just a bunch of wine, her dog Jeremy and a hi-tech drone system.

As we watched her lose hope, faith and a certain modicum of sanity — dead-set on teaching Jeremy to utter the word “milk” — it began dawning on us that there’s a very strong possibility Brinton may not return for future episodes. Then again, she might: It’s that unpredictability that makes “The Last Man on Earth” so unique and engaging through each and every episode.

“Last Man on Earth” has time and again proven itself to be a show that balances its apocalyptic story with equal parts optimistic levity and bleak drama — with coincidences sprinkled throughout. If Tandy can be reunited with his astronaut brother Mike (Jason Sudeikis), there’s a good chance this won’t be the last time we’ll see Pamela.

That drone did come in handy, though, further connecting Brinton’s solitary existence with our group of heroes: If you’ll recall, Gail (Mary Steenburgen) first spotted a drone hovering above the Malibu house the gang holed up in throughout the first half of Season 3. While it ended up eventually being shot out of the sky by Melissa (January Jones) — during a simpler time, before the gang relocated north — this small moment was big enough to lead Pamela to face the outside world once more.

If Pamela is set to eventually join our group of heroes, we have to wonder: Is Gail dead? The gunshot we heard in the midseason finale does not bode well. The last time we saw her, she was trapped in a neighboring building’s elevator — without food, and a bullet in the leg. It’s worth pointing out a worrisome trend: Every time the gang has lost a member, a surprise character has stepped in to take their place.

Still, it’s worth noting that Pamela’s story takes place early enough in the timeline that Gail may still have a chance. And if she doesn’t survive to see Season 4… At least a worthy — and hilarious — predecessor is teed up to take her place.

“The Last Man on Earth” airs Sundays at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.

Posted by:Aaron Pruner

When he was a child, Aaron memorized the entire television lineup, just for fun. He once played Charlize Theron’s boyfriend in a Japanese car commercial. Aaron’s a lover of burritos and a hater of clowns. TV words to live by: "Strippers do nothing for me, but I will take a free breakfast buffet any time, any place."