This week’s Y: The Last Man starts with a vigil and ends with vigilantes!
While slowly trekking generally west, Yorick leads 355 and Allison to a detour: A Sunday night vigil in an abandoned church, in which a group of worshippers sing the musical greats back to life, oh so briefly. This week, it’s Radiohead’s “Karma Police,” and our three heroes take some candles and join the interlocking circles of music enthusiasts. That is, until some US Army folks in black-ops gear start circulating printed-out “wanted for questioning” posters with 355’s face on them.
Even though they get away, the recon team is on their trail, which pisses 355 off—mostly because it forces her to admit that, no, she didn’t actually tell President Brown that they were heading to San Francisco, and now she needs to “take them off the board.” When Yorick, who is understandably spooked that 355 has done a second suspicious thing without explanation, jumps to the conclusion that she’s going to kill them, both of them wind up offended and wounded with one another, aww.
In Washington, Kimberly and Regina are standing at the Wall of Lost Men, and again we establish their very different lives: Kim is mourning her father, husband, and three boys, while Regina never had a partner or children to grieve now. That probably won’t stop them from teaming up against Jennifer, but it shows that Kim is still figuring out who she can best work in her crusade against the Democratic women who she thinks are “relieved,” that “this is the world they wanted.”
Multitasking in her collecting of potential allies, Kim corners Christine to inquire into her pregnancy, which Christine does not want to talk about at work. She’s not even sure she’ll keep it, but Kimberly jumps on this in the way that we all knew she would: She offers that she could help raise the baby. Christine is understandably freaked out and does not seem likely to take her up on that offer, but we’re still in the first trimester, so we’ll see.
Speaking of doing a terrible job making allies, the Amazons’s reluctant houseguests are not sure they know how to fit in to this strange commune, nor if they want to. Sure, there are hot baths thanks to some DIY pumps/vat system, but there’s also uncomfortable mandatory group therapy in which Roxanne prods the speaker into tracing all of her problems back to men being at best problematic and at worst potential rapists. Laura the transphobe is happy to shit on her ex-husband, but when Roxanne turns her sights on Mack, Nora tries to go all mama bear and protect her, only to get verbally smacked down by Roxanne—her house (or Costco equivalent priceMAX), her rules.
Meanwhile, Sam feels intensely out of place, avoiding group therapy and most of the other Amazons, though smiley Kelsey (Samantha Brown) tracks him down to beam at him about how exciting tonight’s “funeral” (??!) will be. Despite Hero bringing him some much-needed testosterone, they otherwise seem to have very different experiences: She gets cornered by a horde of naked and beatifically beaming Amazons during her bath, who immediately cotton on to her deep well of self-loathing.
Nora’s attempt at an apology and peace offering via hot tea is mostly brushed aside by Roxanne, who gets where she’s coming from. In changing clothes in front of her, she also reveals that she had a partial mastectomy, and that she and her fellow breast cancer survivors on the message boards called each other… you guessed it… “Amazons.” Then she puts Nora on sniper duty on the roof of the priceMAX and makes her watch how Roxanne will easily turn desperate survivors—even another child—away.
Even 355 doing some creepy dangerous sleepwalking up on the loft of the church is not enough to make up for her and Yorick thinking the worst of each other. When they fight over her drawing away the Army people while he and Allison hide out in the basement, he snaps and tells Allison they should make a run for it, the two (three, with Amp) of them.
Too bad the recon team is live with Regina—rocking her own take on the polished-politician dress—a nasty surprise for Jennifer to stumble into. They follow along tensely with the recon team hunting what turns out to be Yorick and Allison through the woods. Despite Jennifer being blindsided by the mission heating up, it seems that Regina’s real intent might have been to challenge her to act: After all, it’s Madame President who must give the order to engage: “Proceed with extreme caution.”
Our trio is able to overpower the group, and once again 355 cuts off communications by crushing the walkie-talkie before anyone can identify Yorick by name. When she pushes Yorick to admit that the unconscious Army woman at their feet completely saw his face, then hands him a knife, it seems like she’s asking him to take on an incredible burden—but once again, she subverts his expectations by instructing him to cut the woman’s laces and burn her boots, gaining them a lead. He hasn’t learned anything after all this.
The funeral turns out to be a figurative ceremony, in which Laura is “buried” (covered in dirt, including by Nora, who knows how to play the game when she recognizes who the alpha is) then cleansed of her old self. When she emerges from the bath, she has taken on a new, Amazon-adjacent name: Athena.
Post-funeral, it’s clear that there’s a wedge slowly but surely being driven between Sam and Hero. The latter finds herself sought out by Roxanne (versus the reverse with Nora earlier), who catches on to her complicated feelings about men being gone. Hero admits to killing Mike, or at least says enough that Roxanne can fill in the blanks: “You can’t kill someone and get away with it,” Hero says-slash-pleads, but Roxanne seems to think she has, and that that makes her an ideal recruit.
Later that night, Nora is awakened by the sound of poor Kelsey getting beaten up by the other girls—led by a smirking, newly-powerful Athena—for her “weakness” with regard to Sam. They make eye contact with Nora, who lets the plastic sheeting fall back into place with a look that clearly says better her than meeee…
As I suspected it might, “Weird Al is Dead” references one of the early scenes in the comics, when a masked Yorick reminisces with another music fan about all the seemingly immortal rock stars who died on the same day. The page references a lot of the older icons who it seemed would have lived to perpetuity if not for the plague, including the common sex symbols, so for the show to focus on Weird Al—who, let’s be honest, the Internet already knows is sexy—was a fun riff.
The “Yorick gets mistaken for a trans man” runner continues, with another trans guy reassuring him that “no one’s gonna give you a hard time around here.” Even though we spend only a brief time in the karaoke church, it’s comforting to see that it welcomes all people—except for, y’know, those wanted by the Brown administration for being less-than-forthcoming.
It’s very TV dramatics for 355 to keep her motivations to herself, but I appreciated that we actually got a scene of Yorick pushing back against it—not that he has any sense of how to keep them alive, but his frustration at being constantly lied to is justified and deserved addressing.
It’s all part of the larger dynamic, both from the comics and already being established in the show, of 355 and Allison commiserating over “we are coparenting a dummy,” from tracking their idiot son’s pee breaks to encouraging him to masturbate so as to keep the pipes clear. (355’s FACE.) Of course, things quickly shift into one coparent taking the kid’s side, instead of acting as a united front, and deciding to make a run for it…
Parenting was a subtly recurring theme this whole episode, or more accurately, deciding when to take on that role or not. I called Kim wanting Christine’s baby from the moment she went soft-eyed at last week’s ultrasound—honestly, before then, when she dropped her hoarded crayons and toys in the bathroom—and even though she sees it as a win-win for them both, she has completely glossed over the fact that Christine does not seem to want to be pregnant or give birth. I can foresee Kim guilting her about humankind needing to repopulate the species as quickly and as much as possible, but that doesn’t justify putting Christine through potential trauma she doesn’t want.
From the other side of things, I’m curious how much Mack is picking up on watching her mother at work—that is, Nora realizing that the best way for them to survive is for her to replicate her White House job, as an indispensable (if thanklessly treated) worker for a powerful leader. So far Mack has been presented as more of a narrative tool than anything else, from her injury forcing them on the road to being prodded into fulfilling Roxanne’s mantras about men being perverts. But she also watches her mom first stand up to Roxanne and get verbally knocked down, then later join in on Laura’s funeral. Nora knows what it takes to survive, but Mack may see it as less pragmatic and more pathetic.
The spin on the comics’ Amazons is fascinating: Roxanne bears the partial mastectomy, but it wasn’t self-inflicted like Victoria and her followers. She refused the breast implant, regarding it as a patriarchal burden, but the cause of the surgery was cancer. As for her “all men are inherently evil” ethos, it comes from her experience as a vice cop, seeing people at their worst—not necessarily criminals, either, but husbands and fathers ruining the lives of people they’re supposed to love and protect.
I prefer this cobbled-together aspect of a post-apocalyptic cult, as opposed to the comic’s Victoria asking as if she had all the answers in one place that somehow related to her being a chess prodigy who never got her chance. I get the sense that Roxanne was damn good at her job, but (a) it took a toll and (b) it didn’t stop her from getting cancer.
None of the other girls have lopped off their breasts (yet?); when they surround Hero in the bath, no one bears the same scar. Their nudity was interesting in that it was presented both casually and overwhelmingly; there’s a clear contrast to Hero’s stubborn modesty. Yet she’s clearly less self-conscious of her body than of how easily they see through her, and how whoever she was before, “you don’t have to carry it with you.”
The fact that Roxanne saw the worst of people in her former life also means that she doesn’t bat an eye at Hero’s confession, even seems to encourage it. Like Hero, Roxanne had a partner in her work, presumably male, who she lost in the Event; she can empathize with that professional grief while also understanding that the added personal betrayal (of Mike lying about leaving his wife) is amplified by all the time they spent together in close quarters and high-stress situations saving others’ lives.
While the funeral has clear markers—taking on a new name, wearing a flower crown—it seems to be a rite that’s still being workshopped. I would not be surprised if Roxanne is biding her time before introducing the partial mastectomy. What’s most telling about Hero’s attraction to this cult is how she’s already more engaged in these rituals than she was at her AA meetings; now, the roles are flipped, and it’s Sam pulling away from the structure they have to follow if they want to stay under Roxanne’s protection. But there’s no place for him among the Amazons; it’s only a matter of time before they turn on him.
There’s something charmingly (and logically) analog about circulating 355’s wanted poster as a printout, since it seems they’re still trying to get power back.
Officially retiring my “Hero is pregnant” theory, since Christine has taken over that ethical dilemma, and it’s been long enough since the Event that Hero would know by now.
Note that Regina now has a tasteful American flag lapel pin to rival Jennifer’s…!
Jennifer calling Regina a xenophobe and bigot: “Forgive me, you just play one on TV.” DAMN JEN!
“I’ve got an expressive face.” “Not when you look at me.” Loving Yorick and Allison’s pissy banter so far.
This week’s poetic Y visual comes from Yorick and Amp hiding from the Army.
I’m honestly surprised that the Amazons didn’t think to clear out all the T in the pharmacy aisle, but also I’m very glad for Sam to have more.
For my fellow L Word fans: poor overly-friendly Kelsey has big “my lover Cindi” energy.
What do we think Hero’s Amazon name is gonna be? I was gonna say Hippolyta, but now I’m leaning toward Artemis—both since Laura took on Athena, but also because that leaves Yorick to be Apollo.
Which song would you request at next Sunday’s karaoke church?