How 'Last Man Standing' Set up the Return of Another Character

In this week's episode of Last Man Standing, the stage was set for the return of another character missing since the show moved from ABC to FOX.

In "The Gift of the Mike Guy," Chuck Larabee (Jonathan Adams) said his wife, Carol, was returning to Colorado. Before the episode aired, it was reported that Carol will be played by Tisha Champbell (My Wife And Kids) instead of Erika Alexander, who played the part during the show's ABC run. Alexander had to bow out because of her commitments to The CW's Black Lightning and HBO's Insecure.

During Last Man Standing's sixth season — and final year on ABC — Carol moved to California for a year-long job. Although Last Man Standing picked up about a year later when it returned on FOX, the character has yet to appear.

In an early scene in the episode, Mike Baxter (Tim Allen) asked Chuck for personnel reports, but they have been delayed.

"I'll have it to you by the end of the day. Carol's coming back from California for the holidays and I need time to clean up the house," Chuck told Mike.

"That's shocking," Mike replied.

"What? That a Marine cleans his house?"

"No... that Carol's coming back to you," Mike said.

Chuck gave a nervous laugh, adding, "Oh Baxter... he said, pretending the cruel joke didn't trigger his deepest insecurities."

Mike then quickly moved on to the episode's main subject — Mike trying to find the right gift for Ed (Hector Elizondo). Since this is his first Christmas since Ed retired, Mike decided he should get his friend a gift. Mike renamed the Outdoor Man's access road for Ed, but Ed was not happy about that. He later told Mike that people usually do not get roads named after them until after they die.

Later on, Chuck crashed the Baxter family get-together to deliver the personnel reports. Mike was surprised to see Chuck come back at all.

"You asked a Marine to do a job. That's like asking a pope to go to church," Chuck said. "You know he's going to stay for the whole mass."

"I just wish I had more guys like you," Mike replied.

"Thanks Baxter," Chuck said as he left. "Someone's getting a cheesecake... feel free to regift! Merry Christmas everybody!"

Mike's conversation with Chuck gave him a brilliant idea. He realized that the best thing to do for Ed is to give him something better to do than volunteer as a bartender at the local VFW house. Mike agreed to bring Ed in to help him recruit veterans to help fill positions at the new Outdoor Man stores.

While we are still waiting to see the new Carol on Last Man Standing, this week's Christmas episode did feature the return of Kaitlyn Dever as Eve, the youngest Baxter daughter. It was her first appearance this season since episode three, since she has been off at the Air Force Academy. Eve appeared during the last scene to help the family finish decorating their Christmas tree and to sing some Baxter Christmas Carols.

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Last Man Standing returns on FOX on Friday, Jan. 4.

Photo credit: Fox