The Y: The Last Man season finale has everything: A Western-style shootout. Crying Amazons. A Brown family fight. A Brown family reunion. Sexytimes. Snuggle times. Another bloody transfer of power. And (sighs in Pia Guerra artwork) a crossroads.
The season finale is framed within a flashback: Yorick, Beth, Hero, Jennifer, and Dean Brown (we never get his first name) out for a strained family dinner. The focus is on Yorick and Beth, him explaining his forthcoming escape show and everyone toasting her Australian fellowship that she says she might not even take (she’s clearly going to take it, even Yorick knows and supports this, even if he can’t jump ahead to the impact on their relationship). Hero clearly feels like the odd man out, suffering her mother’s nagging for constantly refilling her red wine and clocking her dad checking his phone an awful lot for a “work issue.”
In the present, picking up from last week, the Amazons are descending upon Marrisville—but first they make a pit stop at a local school (presumably not the one that Sam found a few episodes back) to take over the pool, strategize, and show, via their confrontation with the two older women who had the misfortune of finding the place first, that they outnumber and outgun anyone who has a problem with them taking what they want.
Before they leave, however, the two older women drop a bombshell: The president is dead. Protesters swarmed the Pentagon and shot her, they hear. Hero is clearly shaken, but only Nora knows why. As she continues to clash with Roxanne over proper leadership, Nora instead bonds with Hero over mourning Jennifer Brown, and with Mack over her daughter’s first period, which puts everything in perspective—in her eyes, Mack is a woman now.
In Marrisville, our core trio is split on what their next steps should be. Yorick wants to stay, though 355 chides him for letting a pretty girl (Sonia) make the decision for him. The Culper agent has been sleepwalking again—Janis found her asleep in the middle of town—so she clearly wants to keep moving. Yorick points out that they’re taking a huge gamble going to San Francisco, because what if Allison, brilliant as she is, can’t succeed in resurrecting the Y chromosome? Allison overhears this and instead tells them that Marrisville is throwing them a surprise goodbye party, oops.
Not getting a party, or any presidential sendoff for that matter, is Jen and Beth—the latter having smuggled the supposedly dead POTUS out of the Pentagon. Squatting in an abandoned house, they debate where she should go next. Beth wants to find Yorick now that she knows he’s alive, but of course Jen has no idea where 355 has taken him at this point. They hear a potential intruder and wind up nearly tazeing poor Sam, who has found his way back to them with the news that Hero’s alive! But she’s part of a brainwashed murder cult, so they need to come with him. However, he also mentions the van parked outside, which means they’re being watched. Cue some bright lights and a voice telling Jennifer Brown to step outside.
The goodbye party is just as lively as Happy Fucking Saturday, but with more romantic intrigue. Sonia confesses to Yorick that she killed someone, but that doesn’t stop him from kissing her. Upstairs, Allison cuddles 355—for science, of course, to see if another person’s body weight will keep 355 from sleepwalking again. Purely experimental.
While Yorick is doubling the number of people he’s ever slept with, Kimberly has a sex dream of her own: Her nipples are leaking through her sexy nightgown, and there’s Yorick to be mounted and held down while she presumably gets impregnated by the last cis man. She wakes up in a daze, on the road with Christine, and tells the actually pregnant woman that she knows what they have to do to ensure their future: “All we need is him.”
More flashbacks: Hero is losing whatever thin filter she had thanks to the wine, cruelly teasing Yorick and lashing out at the rest of the family. He does the typical sibling move of mentioning that she’s seeing someone to try to divert attention, but all that does is have Hero proudly (?) admit that she’s fucking a married man. When her mother is horrified, Hero turns the focus to her dad and the TA he’s supposedly screwing. As things veer toward an actual scene, Jennifer removes herself and Dean Brown from the restaurant before their family looks bad in the press and/or on social media.
That leaves the kids to fend for themselves. Yorick is so upset that he grabs an Uber for him and Beth, right when Sam arrives to clean up Hero’s latest emotional mess. She’s drunk and apologizing, but he just hugs her.
The next morning, the Amazons storm Marrisville, and initially it seems as if they’ve caught the sleeping town of old ladies unawares. Then Nora starts clocking significant looks toward the snipers on the roof, and suddenly it’s mayhem as these wannabe warriors get their asses handed to them by the former convicts. More than one Amazon dies in the streets of Marrisville (one in Mack’s arms), so Nora makes the executive decision to surrender. Roxanne, no surprise, does not take this well.
While this is happening, Yorick and Sonia run into Hero and another Amazon on horseback. The Brown siblings are simultaneously delighted and horrified to see one another again, especially once Hero tells Yorick that his only choice is to run or she will be forced to shoot him. The other Amazon gets Sonia in a headshot, but Hero screams at her brother to run before she picks off her pink-clad comrade.
Back at the pool, Roxanne is throwing a shit fit about being forced to show weakness, while Nora calmly advocates for them recovering and figuring out a different route. But despite Nora making veiled threats to reveal Roxanne’s true past to the girls, once Roxanne starts insulting Nora about letting men walk all over her, Nora lets herself give in to her long-simmering anger: She shoots Roxanne in the heart and takes her place as the leader of the group. As she tells them, you can never escape who you were born as—for her, it was the “stuffy old lady name” of Victoria. The Amazons are done reinventing themselves—under her leadership, they will show the world who they are right now.
Turns out Jen, Beth, and Sam were picked up by the Culper Ring—specifically, Agent 525 and Fran herself. They have the three locked in a room under surveillance, but it becomes clear that who they’re really looking for is 355, Yorick, and Allison.
To wit, after the Amazons have slunk away from Marrisville, our trio has a heart-to-heart in the nearby silo. Yorick sobs about how everything and everyone he touches gets destroyed, saying, “I should have died.” 355 soothes him by telling him the story of the day she should have died, when her entire family perished in a car accident that set her on her Culper Ring path. She releases him from her protection, now that POTUS is dead, but he doesn’t feel he has anywhere to go with both of his parents gone and Hero brainwashed despite her act of mercy. Instead, he would rather continue on to San Francisco with 355 and Allison—but he doesn’t want to be a liability anymore. He has to learn how not to be helpless.
Interestingly, there is a car waiting for them, with a tracker matching the one that showed up on 355’s windowsill that morning. They click green when they get in the car, which is equipped with fuel and a bunch of mobile lab gear for Allison. Looks like they’re not necessarily heading for Allison’s backup lab in San Francisco, but back the way they came, to where the Culper Ring waits. At least, that’s the turn they seem to take at the crossroads, the visual that ends the season, and perhaps the series.
How much did we love the finale starting off with Yorick’s opening line from the comic? The writers have been choosy about what they incorporate verbatim, but this made perfect sense: It is a great quasi-monologue, and does set up Yorick’s particular existential crisis regarding which (cis) men live while others die, or die while others live. It also completely seemed like the kind of story he’d tell to a captive audience around the table at a fancy dinner, as opposed to in the comics when he’s wasting long-distance minutes babbling to Beth in the outback.
I loved that the flashbacks were from Hero’s perspective, and that we could feel just how badly she fits into that family—as in, they clearly don’t get her and what’s important to her, yet she also can’t stop self-sabotaging. While it shaded in some details from prior episodes (their father’s affair, their mother’s obsession with her public image), what it most set up for the finale was an extension of Hero’s Amazon therapy session—that is, how she has long wavered between protecting Yorick and resenting him that protection.
For needing to wrap things up with (this phase of) the Amazons, the finale impressively still worked in lots of little character moments—for Yorick, yes, but also for various character dynamics. I appreciate that they kept the comics detail of Beth being his only sexual partner, and that Sonia has been reworked to represent a different kind of temptation: not to cheat on a fiancée he may or may not have, but rather permission to fully live in the moment and not worry about what came before or after. Her speech about linear time both sounded like a bad pickup line (hey, it worked!) and actually summed up the metaphorical crossroads these characters all find themselves at within the first 100 days of the Event.
But Yorick and Sonia banging does not hold a candle to the Allison/355 cuddle. I love that the writers have been developing these two characters’ closeness while Yorick is off enjoying his single status, rather than waiting like the comics did to incorporate it a few years down the line. There’s a clear attraction here, but there’s also a camaraderie that Yorick just can’t fit into based on both his lived experience and his suddenly-elevated status. 355 and Allison are both women of color who have had to claw their way up through the world through all manner of unorthodox means, and while they may approach problems from polar-opposite perspectives, because of those similar struggles they also see through each other’s bullshit. I really hope that a hypothetical season 2 would continue to build on this attraction and tension and much-needed moments of sweetness.
OK, back to the last cis man, because we need to talk about how heartbreaking the Brown siblings reunion was. The twin emotional journeys that Olivia Thirlby and Ben Schnetzer went through at the same time was perfectly heartbreaking, especially the fact that they didn’t get more than a moment to actually process how they had wound up on opposite sides of this firefight. However… Yorick mourning his sister as lost to a brainwashed cult doesn’t quite land when the most Hero did was point a gun at him and basically say that she would have to shoot him. In that moment, she still seems mostly in control of the situation, and while being threatened by one’s sister is no doubt shocking, it doesn’t pack the same punch as if she had been the one to kill Sonia.
That’s how it goes in the comics: Well, technically Sonia kills Victoria, then Hero retaliates. Since Sonia dies regardless, I don’t know why it couldn’t still have been Hero who did it, especially as we saw her get caught up in the bloodlust in the previous episode. Add to that the narrative momentum they were building about people holding Sonia’s past against her, and it would have been easy for Hero to be the one to decide either that she was protecting Yorick, or that this woman was an obstacle to the last cis man. Considering that the TV adaptation drastically changed Hero’s Event story, by having her kill Mike in a moment of passion, this Hero would have very much been set up to continue that self-destructive behavior. Unless they were trying to show her growth, and how her next kill (the other Amazon) is more calculated. But in terms of her relationship with Yorick, we kind of needed Hero to cross a “point of no return” with her brother; not doing so falls short of setting them up on clearly opposing sides next season.
Molly Templeton brought up an excellent point: Wouldn’t Nora have recognized Yorick from his sketch in last week’s episode? She immediately knew who Hero was, though that might have been because, as their mourning/commiserating conversation reveals, Hero was such a liability for Jennifer that she had to endure hours of screening. It would have been Nora’s job to follow along with Hero’s fuck-ups, especially if President Campbell could have exploited any of that to use against Representative Brown. Yorick’s more generic failings would have been less juicy, yet it would have behooved her all the same to keep tabs on him. For Nora to not even give that sketch a second glance seems like an oversight. But perhaps a second season would delve into Hero having to either cover up the fact that she let Yorick go—that, or completely confess her moment of weakness to her new mentor. Because Hero and Victoria, as she will come to be known, are clearly being set up for co-leadership of the Amazons.
Last week I called it, that Nora would become Victoria—mostly because I finally caught on to the significance of the red hair, an unusual color for Marin Ireland and very much tied to the comics version. But everything else about this Victoria is different, from the name (Nora’s given name, which she rejected in favor of trying to be someone else) to her rejection of any sort of gimmick or branding (comics!Victoria leaned a bit too heavily on the chess metaphors).
Instead, the Y TV series has constructed this character much more thoughtfully. Consider how Roxanne tells Nora what an amazing position she is in as a mother, to see Mack grow up without the traditional gendered expectations of marriage and/or motherhood… but that radical optimism still traps Nora in the role of mother and widow. The same went for her initial introduction, as support staff to the most powerful man in the country; it was an intriguing role to explore, but for most of the season did not seem vital enough to justify creating a brand-new character.
But contrasting Nora, who has built her career on supporting others, with Roxanne’s brash, one-dimensional false persona emphasizes how she’s just falling into the same bad patterns in the post-apocalypse. You see this when she says to Mack, “No—Roxanne sounds like me” in the same conversation where she would rather give her daughter her wedding ring to wear as a token of her lost father and brother than for Nora to continue to mourn her lost husband and son. Roxanne’s tantrum post-Marrisville (because of course the Amazons would get their asses handed to them) just crystallizes it.
I was surprised that Nora let Roxanne take to her chlorinated grave the secret about how she created this new self, when Victoria’s rallying cry to the remaining Amazons is to do away with any reinvention. I was also surprised at how the Roxanne problem gets solved just like the Regina one—with a single gunshot. After building up both women as the two major antagonists of the season, it felt almost insulting to dispose of them so easily… but I wonder if it’s meant to be a commentary on how ruthless and violent these survivors have already become?
I’m also still split on how the series handled the Amazons’ various transformations and branding attempts. If I have it right, Victoria won’t be encouraging her followers to undergo symbolic funerals and be reborn with mythology-inspired names—so will that alienate people like Athena? And while I appreciate how the writers worked in Roxanne’s breast cancer as both a life-changing event and an explanation for her partial mastectomy, her speech at the end of last week’s episode made it seem as if she intended to coerce the other Amazons into matching her. For Victoria to cut Roxanne down and tell the girls that they don’t have to reinvent themselves, without making clear what those concrete examples of reinvention might have been, weakens her argument by keeping it in the realm of the hypothetical. After all, a good platform is anti-another’s platform.
Still, Victoria’s main party line matches what she’s been saying in a grassroots fashion over the past few episodes: Anger is enough, and more specifically, your anger is valid enough. You don’t have to make some big change to your body or your name or your persona in order to justify the anger you already have. “We don’t have to reinvent ourselves. We don’t serve Roxanne; we don’t belong to anyone. This world will learn to fear us, because we’ll show them exactly who we are.”
The Kim revelation-via-sex-dream just didn’t land for me, because it’s hypothetical narrative ground we’ve already trod: Yorick as stud fathering the next generation. Yes, it stands to reason that in all of the chaos of escaping the Pentagon that Kim might not have connected the dots until she could finally sleep, but she also leaves it on a note that’s meant to sound dramatic but instead comes out vague: “All we need is him.” Yes, that’s not a surprise for the woman who wanted to go defend the sperm banks herself. This scene could have used one more little turn—like Kim saying aloud the subtext of her dream, which is that she likely sees herself as the Eve to Yorick’s Adam. After all, she built her entire brand on her fecundity and her embrace of motherhood. That would also introduce an interesting narrative wrinkle in how she regards Christine—if Kim can also get pregnant, would she see their hypothetical offspring as in some sort of competition, or would she see a cooperative future? As it is, it seems as if Kim is focusing on the sperm she might track down, while discounting the embryo that’s traveling with her.
Speaking of characters who seem randomly tacked-on to other plotlines, it feels like a waste to send Sam back to Jennifer and Beth. I really thought this season was going to end on some Station Eleven-esque note of Sam trying out some performance art at the next temporary Museum of Men. Having him be a plot courier and then get snatched up by the Culper Ring discounts the character-specific details they seemed to be building up for him.
So what’s the Culper Ring’s plan, anyway? Them keeping the other trio locked up while our core trio presumably drives their way feels very The 100 season 2, when the gang wakes up at Mount Weather and endures a bunch of shady experiments in the name of figuring out how they survived the extinction of humanity. Of course, the difference between The 100 and Y is that the latter has to choose to hand themselves over to science, or the government, or whatever the Culper folks represent. Yorick tells 355 that he doesn’t want to be helpless, but the way he’s proving it so far is by playing into another conspiracy. But perhaps the point is that he—and Allison, and 355—are doing so with eyes wide open.
It’s really frustrating to see Y fall victim to bad timing with the pandemic and contract extensions, losing the option for a second season with FX on Hulu. Narratively, it has concluded its first season much like Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale did: by branching off from the source material’s canon, to super-intriguing effect. Partially working against the series was how slow of a start it had; it wasn’t until a third or nearly halfway through that the plotlines really started to crystallize and the show made unique inroads into its own particular post-apocalypse. Y: The Last Man deserves a second season for showrunner Eliza Clark and the rest of the writing staff to show us the paths they’ve envisioned for this Hero, this Victoria, this 355, this Allison, this Yorick—and for new characters like Sam.
- We get our final poetic Y shot (aside from the crossroads, of course) of the season, with the way Yorick covers his face when crying.
- Our final nail polish sighting: Hero’s chipped black polish at the flashback dinner. I believe it’s the only time we’ve seen her wear some in the series; it makes sense that she wouldn’t bother with it while dealing with blood and other bodily fluids as an EMT. Here she’s clearly making an effort to be polished—with the updo and dress, moreso than anyone else at the table—yet the chipping is a hint into how she’s barely managing to keep up the front.
- Hero’s “it’s a joke” was such a powerful line read because she sounded like every asshole guy who’s used that line on a woman, but here it was on her brother.
- And here’s our final 355 face, as in “is this white woman seriously shooting at me”:
- I love that they all know that Ampersand likes Allison best.
- Super curious about the matching bullet necklaces that the high-ranking Amazons wear: At first I thought it was just Roxanne and Nora, then I spied one on Hero as well, and even Mack. I wonder if these were used casings from people they killed, or what. And now that Victoria is turning them away from the reinvention persona, will they have a new post-apocalyptic BFF necklace…
- OK, we have to end on one more 355 face, after Allison offers to tie her up:
- And of course 355 is a better escape artist than Yorick.
What did you think of the Y season finale? What would you love to see in a second season?