NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Y: The Last Man” are present in this review

 

 

The lead ensemble of Y: The Last Man is slowly beginning to grow, and with that comes the promise of more worthwhile world-building and drama in a series that’s so far struggling to truly get off the ground. “Mann Hunt” is dedicated to bringing two major characters into the fold across two factions, with Yorick and 355 encountering their target, the eccentric, socially atypical Harvard geneticist, Dr. Allison Mann, while Jennifer deals with the arrival of Regina Oliver, the supposed Republican heir to the U.S. Presidency, who was formerly believed to be dead. Both of these character additions promise to further tighten the show’s storytelling eventually, though for now, the same stubborn issues remain in FX on Hulu’s sluggish post-apocalyptic drama series.

There are nonetheless some small signs of progress in, “Mann Hunt” however, largely because it’s an episode that deals heavily with the show’s two weakest storylines so far, yet the narrative does manage to be slightly more engaging than usual here. It’s not enough to cement the appeal of Yorick and Jennifer, who still can’t operate within a truly worthwhile story arc it seems, but Y: The Last Man is continuing to fumble towards something resembling an interesting overall plot. Hero, Sam and Nora once again sit out this episode, but fortunately, 355 continues to be a major draw, serving as the audience’s eyes while she navigates a war-torn, devastated Boston.

355 exploring how more of America has descended into chaos following the death of anyone and anything with a Y chromosome leads to the promise of some more interesting conflicts between armed forces and protestors, particularly as 355 is forced to maintain the secret of Yorick’s and Ampersand’s survival all the while. This is undermined however by Yorick continuing to be an ineffectual moron, poking into a protestor joint after 355 tells him to stay put, for literally no reason beyond the plot dictating it. This leads to Yorick losing the knife he was left to defend himself with, but even this doesn’t matter for long, since 355 bypasses all of the red tape she encounters to make it to Dr. Mann’s hideaway at Harvard, bringing Yorick along undetected anyway.

Diana Bang’s Dr. Mann immediately makes an impression with her anti-establishment views and blunt, antisocial demeanour. Whether or not it’s a good impression can vary between scenes, since Mann’s political and social tirades can occasionally border on annoying, but I can’t fault Bang for trying to inject some personality into a dour comic book-inspired series that’s desperately in need of it. After Yorick is eventually deposited with Dr. Mann, following a claim from Mann that she must travel to San Francisco in order to preserve her research, she’s subsequently used as a vehicle to explain how the apocalyptic event also affected millions of women because of formerly undiagnosed medical conditions associated with latent Y chromosomes, along with women in various parts of the world that are believed to be female at birth, only to secretly have ingrown male sexual organs. It’s kind of fascinating to listen to, and makes a valiant effort to expand upon the apocalyptic event from the original Y: The Last Man comic books, but the fact is, this gender deconstruction by Dr. Mann still doesn’t benefit the show’s narrative all that much, even if it does provide a semi-logical excuse for Yorick to avoid initially being found out by the protestors, after he manages to pass for a trans man.

Like I said, it’s 355 that actually earns a lot of the intrigue and goodwill in this episode, even as she gets up to her own shady dealings. After pretending to break her sat phone, 355 goes to a secret location, only to find another mysterious Culper Ring agent, 525. The two briefly fight, before they disarm each other, and then mutually share information about their mysterious handler. The two agents being appointed to their latest jobs immediately before the apocalyptic event is certainly intriguing, and suggests a larger conspiracy that could be worth digging into, particularly when 355 subsequently lies to Yorick about his mother approving of Dr. Mann’s mission to San Francisco. I guess we had to prolong Yorick’s and 355’s post-apocalyptic adventure somehow, particularly now that they’ve successfully secured Dr. Mann.

As for the subplot surrounding Jennifer, it sadly remains a weak point in the series’ storytelling, even if it does manage to layer in one interesting scene. After Christine believes she’s miscarrying in the bathroom, Kimberly helps her seek medical attention, at which point Christine learns that her baby is still alive, and about ten weeks along. The intriguing hint here is that Christine may be having a boy, possibly suggesting that there could be some hope for the future of human reproduction. Kimberly participating in this scene is also noteworthy, even if the two don’t acknowledge this near-crisis in passing later. Considering that Y: The Last Man seems to be exhibiting a noticeably liberal political bias so far, it’s nice to see the series painting a conservative character as something other than a liability, a shit disturber or an enemy, even as the threat of Regina seizing the Presidency from Jennifer continues to loom.

Speaking of Regina, she doesn’t really make any effort to hide her intentions either. There’s more idle debating about whether to hand the Presidency to Regina regardless, but once again, none of it amounts to anything useful. Jennifer’s arc continues to yet again focus on all the wrong details in this apocalypse scenario, on top of being paced like molasses. It also feels like Jennifer and Regina are ultimately fighting over a now-antiquated political structure that seemingly doesn’t work anymore, further undermining their supposed stakes. Sure, America needs a leader, but it seems like Y: The Last Man can’t fully decide whether the U.S. government is functional or not. If this is supposed to be some sort of political satire, it’s not working, and it’s only wasting time in a show that definitely has better things it could be focusing on.

That said, “Mann Hunt” does continue Y: The Last Man’s difficult journey of becoming fully decent, even if it’s still barely hovering above passable for now, especially for the prestigious FX catalogue. Agent 355 continues to remain the series’ most cool and interesting character at this point, while Yorick continues to be a tiresome liability, and Jennifer continues to get lost in idle political squabbling that isn’t adding anything useful to the story. Christine’s potentially male baby could add some much-needed intrigue to the Presidency faction, but it’s going to be a while before we see a payoff from that, even if it also creates a more interesting use in the narrative for Kimberly. I imagine that the following episode will continue to place considerable emphasis on Jennifer struggling to keep the Presidency from Regina, but honestly, Y: The Last Man continues to fail at politics overall. Considering the show’s comic book roots especially, it’s probably much better off continuing to develop the outside stretches of its ruined world instead, especially now that Yorick, 355 and Dr. Mann now have a long journey to San Francisco ahead of them.

Y: The Last Man 1.5 - "Mann Hunt" Review
Y: The Last Man continues to struggle with its tired political squabbling in, "Mann Hunt", though a deepening conspiracy surrounding 355, and the promising introduction of Dr. Mann, promise to further inch the series forward.
THE GOOD STUFF
  • 355's interesting side mission, and its resulting conspiracy
  • Dr. Mann adds an intriguing new perspective to the lead ensemble
  • Kimberly coming to the aid of Christine's pregnancy
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
  • Jennifer remaining stuck in dull political squabbling
  • Yorick continuing to be a moron for no reason
  • Dr. Mann's introduction can be a bit obnoxious
70%Overall Score
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