Two episodes in, Y: The Last Man has been fairly straightforward in signifying its heroes and its villains, and they’ve been divided down Democrat vs. Republican party lines. Jennifer is trying her best, is taking the office of the presidency very seriously, is concerned about the safety of every remaining person, and is disinterested in treating established traditions with sentimentality or reverence if it is no longer meaningful or useful to do so. Plus, she’s played by Diane Lane! Verdict on Jennifer: Good! Meanwhile, Kim seems manipulative, duplicitous, power-hungry, and centered on “family values” in that way that means “pro-life,” but only when those people grow up to be good, God-fearing Evangelical Christians. Verdict on Kim: Bad!
Y: The Last Man is really not making it difficult to keep track of this. The other Powerful Women™ who we’ve met so far basically fall into these two camps, as evidenced in that hallway showdown between Jennifer and Kim and their various posses. But with “Neil,” the third Y: The Last Man episode, we run into two complications. First up is Regina Oliver (Jennifer Wigmore), the woman who was ahead of Jennifer in the line of succession. A hand-picked choice of the former President who Yorick mocks as “the anti-immigrant, anti-government, anti-vaxxer with a Twitter following” who tried to “bring her gun to a Spin class,” and who one of Jennifer’s advisors later describes as a “complete fucking fringe lunatic,” Regina ends up alive. After Regina is found in Israel, Jennifer’s position as president becomes far more tenuous. (LOL at Jennifer’s crew thinking Regina would just stand aside and let Jennifer continue being president; that’s some real galaxy-brain Democrat thinking.) Ideologically, Regina is obviously going to line up with Kim. But while Kim so far has seemed powerless, does Regina embolden her, or shove her aside? How does that dynamic play out?
And then there’s Sarah. Verdict on Sarah: Extremely unclear! Katie Edgerton’s script gives Ashley Romans a lot of space to work Sarah’s various angles, and they are many. To the pilots, Officer Barnes (Kirstin Rae Hinton) and Officer Mulligan (Marina Moreira), she is alternately encouraging and chastising. To Yorick, she is bemused and a little challenging. (“They named you after a dead clown,” chef’s kiss.) To Kim, she is all insincerity and faux appreciation. And to Jennifer and her advisor Christine, Sarah is unwavering in her presentation of and persuasion for her ideas. Is the geneticist Dr. Allison Mann really the right person to determine what about Yorick helped him survive the “Event”? Impossible to say quite yet. But I have no doubt that whoever Sarah picked would be who Yorick ended up going to, and that those medals she presented to Officers Barnes and Mulligan were secretly bombs she engineered. A “mysterious” explosion? Please.
“Neil” is fairly action packed as we leave New York City behind for the time being and focus only on Washington, D.C., and whatever suburb Nora and her daughter Mack (Quincy Kirkwood) live in. Marin Ireland gives a good dead-eyed gaze (remember her as Chris Pine’s resentful ex-wife in Hell Or High Water?), but it makes me wonder: Was Nora ever going to abide being part of a group with other women and other daughters? She doesn’t seem the type, and didn’t seem to fight very hard to stick together, and I think she really believed it when she said to Mack, “We’re faster without them.” Was she digging graves for her husband and son out of a genuine desire to bury them, or simply to appease the injured, certain-to-slow-them-down Mack? I could see that going either way. Most clear, though, is that Nora is angry, and Nora is ready to move on, and that vulture waiting near her relatives’ bodies was enough of a sign that whatever life she and Mack used to have in that house is totally over.
When will Yorick come to the same realization? I think reuniting with Jennifer was a beautiful, necessary thing. But I also can’t help but roll my eyes at Yorick’s choices, or what seems like an overall sense of irresponsibility. Put Amp in his carrier! Move a little faster when chasing him through this facility! Hide more quickly so that someone doesn’t see you! Marla might be losing it, but Yorick had no idea of that. And I don’t think Jennifer and Sarah can convince Marla otherwise, not with Kim whispering in her ear. Kim is a viper, and she poses a legitimate threat to Jennifer. As the pilots pointed out to Sarah, it doesn’t look great that seemingly the sole cis-man still alive happens to the son of the president: As Jennifer says, “We’ve found plenty of men, none with a Y chromosome.” And it also doesn’t look great that said president was only named to that position because of a convoluted line of succession—that now might be invalid because Regina survived under a pile of Tel Aviv rubble.
I will briefly cut Yorick some slack: We learn that he did try to find Hero in New York City, but that her place was already empty and looted by the time he got there. But I take some of that slack back because he told Jennifer that he and Beth were engaged, which they distinctly were not since Beth turned down his offer, and possibly even broke up with him, for the lure of Australia and the Hemsworths within it. Jennifer seems supportive—if maybe not terribly convinced?—by this news, but she also has broader concerns to worry about. Avoiding a nuclear meltdown. Outmaneuvering Kim. And once she agrees to send Yorick to Dr. Mann (the Massachusetts address that Sarah picked up from that Culper Ring station, right?), whatever appeals Yorick tries to make about finding Beth fall on deaf ears.
There are more important things on a grander scale than Yorick finding his girlfriend/fiancée/whatever, and I think Jennifer’s hard line here is telling us something about what we can expect from this character in the future. “We keep going,” Sarah said in that helicopter with Yorick, and she and Jennifer seem to have that in common. There’s no moving backward, and I think whichever route Sarah chooses—either through her own motives, or those of the shady Culper Ring—is where Y: The Last Man is going.
- A trio of questions: Where’s Beth? Where’s Hero? Where is Nora taking Mack?
- Regina Oliver as some kind of Sarah Palin and Marjorie Taylor Greene hybrid … a truly cursed creation.
- Ben Schnetzer’s scoffing delivery of “‘Mann.’ Oh my God, the universe is hilarious, and, you know, awful,” did make me laugh.
- As unbelievable as no one wearing masks on a regular basis: Nora digging those graves without a pair of gloves. Her hands would have been torn up! Come on, man.
- This episode has digs at Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Iran? I would like to know how the “Event” affected other countries, but I would also like some creativity past just “predictable American enemies,” please.
- What, or who, did Kim steal those crayons for?
- The action figure of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Raphael having his arm torn off makes sense; he was always the bad boy getting into trouble. I was partial to Donatello, though.
- Mack’s leg wound is definitely going to get infected, right?
- There is no way that Kim would think Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton was “finally Broadway did something good for this country.” Absolutely not, does not track.