NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Y: The Last Man” are present in this review
Having trudged my way to the third and final series premiere episode for Y: The Last Man, I’m starting to see a bit of forward direction that finally has the series setting up some honest post-apocalyptic conflicts. The thing is though, it still feels like too little, too late. “Neil” may be the most interesting episode that Y: The Last Man offers in its initial batch, but many of the series’ innate early problems are nonetheless maintained. It’s still too often boring, and still too often derivative of other post-apocalyptic media. There do remain some continued successes when it comes to Y: The Last Man trying to carve out its own niche within this oversaturated genre of television, but they’re still not frequent enough to give the series a unique appeal that’s necessary to draw in viewers.
At least main protagonist, Yorick is now starting to find his place in the over-arching plot a little more. After Yorick reunites with his mother, Jennifer suddenly finds herself in the midst of a political crisis. Despite initially believing that all others before her in the line of succession perished, a controversial fringe congresswoman is revealed to have survived a deadly bus attack in Israel (one that feels like a not-so-subtle facsimile of real-life fringe congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene), thus making her the rightful heir to the Presidency. So far, this woman remains isolated in Israel, but Jennifer and her surviving cabinet nonetheless face a major constitutional issue. Even going beyond that, does the U.S. line of succession even matter anymore, with four billion people having died, and the world rapidly falling apart because of it?
This political rivalry also ends up giving Kimberly a better place in the show’s storyline, as she finds herself sidelined by the proudly Democrat Jennifer. Some of Y: The Last Man’s political commentary is thus finally beginning to take shape here, as Kimberly leads a mob of displaced conservatives in opposition of Jennifer, an issue that’s exacerbated after a chance encounter by Kimberly’s dementia-addled mother seemingly reveals that Yorick survived, and is being hidden in the presidential facility. Kimberly obviously can’t prove this, but the huge diplomatic implications of the lone surviving male being the President’s son carries a legitimate sense of stakes, especially with growing conspiracy theories about the apocalyptic disaster spreading among the surviving American population. Oh, finally, we have some real stakes in Y: The Last Man! It’s about time!
Even then though, the show is still plodding along too slowly for now. The world-building just isn’t working at this point, and a big part of that is due to the fact that the series is struggling to balance its subplots with its central mystery surrounding Yorick’s and Ampersand’s survival as the apparent last living creatures with Y chromosomes. Hero doesn’t even show up at all in this episode, with the B-plotting instead entirely revolving around Nora and her daughter. The two are forced back home after their own allies flee them (we’re doing this conflict again already?), then they find that birds keep trying to eat the corpses of their husband/father and son, then they drive away, and briefly discover a radio signal. Okay, I guess that’s well and good, but the material surrounding Nora’s character is still way too dull, completely wasting Marin Ireland’s superb performance yet again.
Nonetheless, a valuable core mission is finally kicked off between Yorick and Agent 355 here. Left with no choice but to scuttle away Yorick, lest her political rivals learn of Yorick’s survival, Jennifer sends Yorick and Agent 355 after one Dr. Allison Mann, and yes, the show makes it a point to reference the outrageous irony of her name. We don’t see this mission play out yet, as Yorick and 355 simply end this episode by seeing another helicopter crash in a bit of an ending cliffhanger, but at least Yorick’s and 355’s place in the overall plotting has finally been set in motion. It’s just too bad that we’ll have to wait for the following weeks to see where these promising conflicts with Yorick, 355 and Jennifer (and Hero) ultimately go.
Not much else really happens in this episode, beyond admittedly promising setup for future events. It’s all about nudging Yorick, Jennifer, 355 and Kimberly into their all-important story placements for most, if not all of this season’s remaining episodes, while Hero and Sam are disappointingly MIA for now. “Neil” finally indicates why post-apocalyptic TV fans and/or comic book/DC enthusiasts might want to keep tuning into Y: The Last Man from here, as the show’s important conflicts finally start to take shape, though the series nonetheless has an uphill battle ahead of it. Y: The Last Man is still failing to stand out enough, as a post-apocalyptic drama, a comic book series, or even a worthy addition to the FX catalogue (it’s middling Hulu fare at present), though it is taking some small steps in the right direction by the end of its third episode. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews though, that’s likely not enough to give the series the necessary staying power for a second season. Y: The Last Man is really going have to work overtime for the next several weeks, if it wants to justify its long-in-development existence within the modern era of television.
- Yorick's survival finally becomes a key part of the narrative
- Interesting political conflicts brewing for Jennifer
- Dr. Mann mission puts the plot in motion
- Nora's subplot fails to engage
- Pacing is still far too slow
- World-building is still too uninteresting