Y: The Last Man Episodes 1, 2, and 3 Review- Girls Rule The World, Now What?
It may be called Y: The Last Man but it’s really about how women deal with the void in FX on Hulu’s series based on the graphic novels by Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra.
It’s the end of the world and the women all feel fine, not really. Since at least the 60s, women have wished to be more seen and heard. To have a more significant influence over things, at the very least our own bodies and lives. We’ve espoused that we are the kinder, more inclusive gender. So what happens when that is put to the test, and we find we are just as big of assholes as cismen? Lacking a Y chromosome doesn’t make you automatically a good person, and as the world of Y: The Last Man starts to collapse, the women left holding the bag find they have to contend with that truth. Not all women are created equal.
The graphic novels the series are based on are problematic. There is no getting around the elephant in the room. The graphic novels by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra leave a lot of gender fluidity out of the equation. They are downright inhospitable to the one group they do mention. How do you take a story about Y, the last cismale on earth, and make it inclusive?
The addition of Sam Jordan(Shameless’s brilliant Elliot Fletcher) is the answer. Trans men are the only surviving men since they lack the Y chromosome, and his addition raises a whole host of questions about relationships, pharmaceuticals, and prejudice. Sam, who quickly becomes one of the most interesting characters in the series, is dealing with the same issues before the event but from a completely different perspective. His plight highlights just how selfish Yorick and Hero are. It also shows the intrinsically intimate story of survival. As much as President Brown is trying to keep the world together, survival is a personal event and some have more to contend with than others.
Y: The Last Man will remind you of a ton of other apocalyptic stories. Everything from Netflix’s Tribes of Europa, Sweet Tooth, and even Will Smith’s ridiculously sudsy I Am Legend all are felt here. Male, female, or non-binary, the universal truth is humans have to fight their basest instincts to not suck. This world is not only on the verge of collapse, but the smell must be unbearable. There are so many obstacles to overcome, it is almost impossible to comprehend, and the old ways of doing things are over.
How we choose to deal with the disaster is where the most interesting drama happens. Do you maintain your current path? The appointed leaders step up not necessarily because they are the smartest or most equipped, but because that is the role they know best. Everyone else needs to decide if they run and hide? It’s all a matter of perspective, and before anyone can get any, they are stuck in the middle of a nasty battle to keep the world spinning.
The piles of dead bodies rotting everywhere aren’t even the biggest concerns. But, when one-half of the world’s population goes tits up overnight, it leaves a void. Between the emotional loss of loved ones, there are also the jobs those people held. Some are more essential than others in our mechanical world, and when there is no one left to do them, it’s a genuine issue.
The power grid is in danger of collapse with no one to run the plants. Predominately run by men, their void is felt keenly and in a moment that probably is funnier than intended Diane Lane’s newly appointed President Brown says “which cities” when addressing the crisis. This is such a prime example of how our politicians are ill-equipped to make decisions without consulting experts. It’s largely why currently both sides of the table have proposed laws that have unintentionally disastrous consequences. Ignorance is not saved exclusively for the dumb. The folly of the intelligent is that they think they know everything.
Glimpses from each character’s pre-apocalypse world reveal all the same issues women deal with today. Powerful women are looked down on and berate themselves for not having children or not being “as good” a mother as they think they should be. It’s unspoken and quite honestly couched as a male failing when the admittedly patronizing President Campbell praises his wife for being a good wife and mother. It affects Jennifer(Ladd)because her marriage is failing, and she subconsciously wonders if her semi-aimless children are her fault. Did she choose a career over motherhood and marriage? Should she feel guilty for that?
It’s a tricky question and one that every woman grapples with. We are our own worst enemies. We condemn those that make different choices, regardless of the reason or the outcome. It’s a problem and one that Y: The Last Man spotlights. Just because the male-driven world is dead doesn’t mean their influence is gone. Kimberley Campbell Cunningham’s mother is praised for being a great caregiver all these years, but she falls apart in the wake of her husband and son’s death. She is neither equipped nor inclined to be part of the new world.
Antiquated ideas of womanhood find a voice in the fallen President Campbell’s widow and daughter. Old wives’ tales about daughters stealing mother’s beauty and worrying about if their daughters will be pretty enough or thin enough are told through the lens of our filtered social media world. Amber Tamblyn’s Kimberly Campbell Cunningham is ready to step out of the shadows of her father, the previous President of the US, while using his previous clout as the top male dog. She is the other side of the coin. She wants to leverage the old patriarchal world. Despite being uber-conservative, she is surprisingly clear-headed and controlled. She understands the importance of humanity’s survival while being beholden to its trappings.
Her interactions with Jennifer have been intriguing so far and should be even compelling moving forward. Unfortunately, Kimberly is part of the old school regime. “Without men, there is no future,” she says. It’s a begrudging truth. We need male genetic material to produce offspring. Like in Neil Stephenson’s phenomenal novel SevenEves it is crucial to have enough genetic diversity to ensure life can continue. However, that doesn’t mean we need to maintain the old-fashioned status quo.
President Brown’s children are exactly what you would expect from hyper-privileged, intelligent white children. The last man standing, Yorick(Ben Schnetzer), is aimless, clueless, overly opinionated, and often selfish. Despite his very liberal upbringing, he is just another misguided ally. Early on he finds himself in a dangerous situation, naked and vulnerable. It is a feeling a lot of women have felt. For Yorick, who cloaks himself in “woke” entitledness, it is shocking. You get the impression his pet monkey Ampersand is an animal avatar for Yorick. He frequently bounces from one place to another with no direction and less concern than he should have, leaving mayhem in his wake. The entirely CGI monkey is better than expected and, for fans of the graphic novel, just as annoyingly adorable.
President Brown’s other child Hero(Olivia Thirlby) does not fair much better. She is an EMT before the collapse. Hero is having an affair with her partner. He is very married, very newly fathered, and a liar, but she believes him because she wants to. Shortly before all the world’s men drop dead, they have a violent altercation resulting in his death. That event, coupled with the horrific events of that day, has left her struggling. Sam is her lifeline to reality. It is his clearheaded voice of reason she listens to. The push and pull of their caring relationship will be great to watch.
NOS4A2’s Ashley Romans’ Agent 355 is a charismatic, single-minded protector that does what needs to be done. Her pragmatic approach will undoubtedly keep Yorick safe but may clash with President Brown’s as the story progresses. Narratively Marin Ireland’s Nora(The Dark and the Wicked) acts as our everywoman POV. She was an insider working as former President Campbell’s Press Secretary before the fall. After, she is a mother grieving losses and a scared parent trying to deal with dire concerns like food and security. Ireland is an incredibly dynamic actress who instills every moment of her screen time with crystalline fragility. She is in control, but just barely. What happens when she loses her tenuous grasp?
Similar to our COVID-ravaged world, conspiracies are everywhere. The same problems we have now, Y: The Last Man Episodes 1,2, and 3 grapple with. The hunt for Dr. Mann and answers are on, and only Agent 355 stands in the way of danger. For once having a Y chromosome is a bad thing. Y: The Last Man Episode 4 premiers next Monday.
- It’s only a matter of time before Kimberly and Nora reunite. What will Nora sacrifice to ensure the safety of her daughter? She didn’t appear to be 100% on board with his conservative politics before. Who’s side will she be on now?
- Will the reimergencence of Vice President Regina Oliver(Jennifer Wigmore) topple the shaky government?
- What environmental factor saved both Ampersand and Yorick from death?
- Marin Ireland rings more terrified anger from one haggard look than most need a paragraph of dialogue.
- Ampersand makes a ton of noise. Has no one heard him yet?
- It must be terrifying to realize that not only is the testosterone you depend on to be yourself is in short supply, but the world that may not have been kind before, may have gotten even scarier.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.