NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Y: The Last Man”, including a major character death, are present in this review

 

 

Y: The Last Man hit a major high point with its previous PriceMax-focused episode that fleshed out the origin story of Roxanne, and secured Nora’s executive place within the Amazons. Unfortunately, now that the series is tasked with leading up to its Season 1 (and likely overall) climax, the narrative has fallen back on some frustrating old habits, once again cramming in too much undercooked storytelling that fails to adequately build the series’ stakes. “Peppers” still manages to stand above Y: The Last Man’s frustrating early episodes, not least of which because of a very exciting climax that properly sets up a decisive obstacle for Jennifer and the U.S. Presidency, but the show once again finds itself struggling to balance its politics with its survival drama here, ultimately disturbing the narrative momentum as the season (and likely the series) prepares to end.

It definitely doesn’t help that FX has already cancelled Y: The Last Man, thus forcing the series to try and shop for a new home. The fact that this show is already in TV purgatory means that it becomes that much more difficult to invest in the story teases that are obviously meant to lead into a second season, one that likely won’t happen now. Sometimes, the writing still manages to have the opposite problem here as well, setting up promising character conflicts, only to quickly abandon them with awkward narrative shifts. Jennifer suffers the brunt of this issue in this episode, once it finally comes out that Yorick has survived, and could be the last surviving cisgender man on Earth. Naturally, the fact that Jennifer opted to keep Yorick’s survival secret from the executive branch at the Pentagon pretty much kills her Presidency, and sets Regina up to take Jennifer’s place.

Of course, this doesn’t matter in the end, because Beth’s mysterious group of terrorists takes this opportunity to attack the Pentagon, taking the executive branch hostage in the process, including Jennifer and Regina. Admittedly, this makes for a very cool action sequence, especially when Jennifer quickly realizes that Beth was a spy for the attackers all along. As cool as this climax is however, it immediately defeats the purpose of the other Pentagon residents learning of Yorick’s survival, and Jennifer copping to it, at the cost of her Presidency. Regina even stupidly gets herself killed during the chaos, after a series of tirades eventually leads to her blabbing that Jennifer’s son is alive, at which point Regina gets a bullet in the head from one of the aggravated terrorists.

So, I guess that handily solves the issue of who gets to be President from here, even while Beth’s group aspires to tear down the established order of the U.S. Government. As annoying as it is that Jennifer’s treachery seemingly amounts to nothing though, Beth inadvertently learning of Yorick’s survival from this attack is kind of interesting, if probably moot, because this storyline was no doubt meant for a second season. Truth be told, it’s Kimberly and Christine that actually punctuate this storyline best, after Kimberly takes it upon herself to get the pregnant Christine to safety, eventually leading to Kimberly stabbing a woman to death in order to keep Christine safe. This is a great payoff to the strange friendship that’s been developing between Kimberly and Christine, one that also proves that Kimberly is a more courageous and reliable Conservative presence than Regina ever was.

Outside of the political arena, the Amazons once again occupied a key storyline in this episode, after Hero helps to scout out an attack on a man-revering settlement. Roxanne orders the Amazons to destroy and pillage the community, which quickly enrages Nora, as it eliminates an avenue of trade that could have secured the Amazons necessary supplies. This is another disappointing element to this episode, because Nora’s and Roxanne’s alliance is already falling apart, despite it being a major payoff to the standout episode that came before this. Roxanne even kicks Nora out of the Amazons yet again as a result of this spat, but it doesn’t matter, because Nora returns to Roxanne with intel on the surviving Yorick mere minutes later, seemingly pointing the Amazons toward this show’s sole surviving male lead. I guess that’s a fair enough story hook for the subsequent season/series finale, if the Amazons are fast enough to reach Yorick anyway, but why bother keeping up this constant pretense of Roxanne continually booting Nora from the Amazons, and going back on it?

In any case, the show’s narrative also checks back in with the prison settlement here, where 355 continues to be tormented by visions of her past. At the same time, Yorick is endearing himself to the inmates of the community, particularly his new lady friend, Sonia, while Dr. Mann seemingly finds a chance to get laid. The prison settlement storyline didn’t add much to this episode, frankly, but it did contain a good chunk of decent character moments, even if they felt overshadowed by the Pentagon and Amazon storylines. Still, it’s nice to see Yorick, 355 and Dr. Mann get a bit of a reprieve, even if it’s probably going to be pretty short-lived. Similarly, it’s also unfortunate that 355’s bloody, mysterious past was clearly being saved for a second season, so that’s yet another promising story element that likely won’t get the chance to be properly explored at this point.

“Peppers” manages to keep Y: The Last Man fairly engaging, seemingly cementing that the series is no longer a tired bore that’s plagued by modern television’s increasingly evident dystopia fatigue. Even so, it seems that the show’s narrative has once again become confused about how to properly balance itself here, with another especially busy set of plots that too quickly abandon conflicts, while other character turns don’t feel like they’re explored well enough to make an impact. Still, the attack on the Pentagon remains plenty exciting, even if it frustratingly renders the shock of Yorick’s survival practically meaningless to the executive branch in the end. Likewise, there’s still some good dramatic potential to be mined from the tension between Nora and Roxanne, even though their alliance is crumbling a little too quickly at this rate.

At this point though, Y: The Last Man probably won’t get a chance to truly develop the promising Season 2 ideas it’s started to present here, barring some sort of rescue by another streaming service. That reality is rapidly starting to work against the show, but hopefully its subsequent season/series finale can at least stick the landing well enough to close out this post-apocalyptic tale in style.

Y: The Last Man 1.9 - "Peppers" Review
Y: The Last Man's storytelling sadly regresses a bit in, "Peppers", despite an exciting climax and some endearing character moments at the prison.
THE GOOD STUFF
  • Yorick charming the prison community
  • Exciting attack on the Pentagon
  • The Amazons being pointed at Yorick
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
  • Jennifer's threatened Presidency is quickly made pointless
  • Nora's and Roxanne's alliance feels too uneven
76%Overall Score
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