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

 

 

Y: The Last Man really got a raw deal, but I have to respect the series for wanting to believe in its ambitions. The show’s Season 1 finale, “Victoria”, which is now likely the series finale, following FX cancelling the show before its first season had even concluded, provides a good mix of action-packed payoffs and promising hints for where an endangered Season 2 may go. It was enough to make me hope that this troubled post-apocalyptic drama can indeed find a new home on another streaming platform, because it clearly has so much more story to tell. For now though, we’ll have to settle for how Season 1 intended to end, for better or for worse, and while this season finale isn’t great, it’s also not bad.

As with the previous episode, the series’ increasingly busy narrative can’t be effectively served on every front here. This time, it was the Presidential faction that ended up suffering the most, as Jennifer and Beth struggle to escape the chaos at the Pentagon, while Kimberly and Christine head off in a different direction. Both of these storylines serve as little more than Season 2 teases that will probably amount to nothing at this rate, and that’s frustrating. Kimberly simply has a sex dream about Yorick, inspiring her to suggest some sort of future-founded idea to Christine that we never hear, before Jennifer and Beth have a highly coincidental encounter with Sam. Yeah, I don’t know how or why Sam just happened to be wandering around here, but it’s pretty contrived, to say the least. Sam’s unlikely appearance was no doubt done to put him in the company of Jennifer and Beth, before they all end up being captured by what appears to be Agent 355’s covert organization, the Culper Ring. Sadly, we’ll probably never know.

Every season finale within a high-profile genre show deserves a big, memorable set piece however, and that eventually came via the Amazons. I have to admit, the show nicely defied expectations here too, leading Roxanne’s crew to the prison faction right away, rather than saving the encounter for a second season, as I initially predicted. Nora and Roxanne remain at odds with each other, but regardless, the two do manage to put together a plan to storm the town adjacent to the prisoners’ settlement, demanding that Yorick be brought out to them. This leads to the inmates, with some help from 355, planning a pretty exciting ambush!

The exchange of gunfire and the subsequent chaotic, violent bloodbath at the prison settlement once again has Y: The Last Man feeling more exciting than ever, just in time for the season’s big climax. The siege on the Pentagon during the show’s previous episode felt just a little bit more stylish, but even so, the Old West-style standoff between the Amazons and the inmates remains pretty awesome. It also makes effective use of Nora and Hero, as Hero rides off, suspecting that something is up with the attack, while Nora struggles to protect Mack, and must eventually accept that her daughter wants to fight alongside the Amazons. Fortunately, Nora and Mack aren’t hurt in the process, though Hero is eventually shot in the arm by Sonia, right when Hero learns that the sole surviving man that was hiding at the settlement is indeed being spirited away, and that said man is Hero’s brother!

The emotional reunion between Hero and Yorick is complemented nicely by an opening section, followed by a series of flashbacks, which show the last family dinner that the Brown’s shared, pre-apocalypse. Hero ends up driving away her mother and her brother through snarky comments during these flashbacks, and this directly leads to the Brown family being fractured before the apocalyptic event. This makes it all the more heartbreaking when Hero must send Yorick away, even going as far as to shoot Nicole dead so that Yorick, 355 and Dr. Mann can escape. Hero being shot might as well have not even happened, since she acts impervious to the injury, but even so, seeing the Brown siblings find their way back together, only to be driven apart again, is a great dramatic flourish on par with the shootout at the settlement.

Speaking of that shootout, Sonia is unfortunately killed during Yorick’s escape, eventually leading to Yorick breaking down, particularly when Hero mistakenly relays to him that Jennifer has died, not knowing that the, “President” that was killed was actually Regina. Yorick, 355 and Dr. Mann nonetheless find a mysterious getaway car left to them by the Culper Ring shortly afterward, but Hero and the Amazons have bigger problems. These begin after Nora surrenders to the inmates, against Roxanne’s wishes, forcing the Amazons to retreat from the settlement and return to the community pool that they seized, at which point Roxanne expels Nora from her group for good.

Nora, however, decides to instead reveal Roxanne as a liar and a traitor, before shooting Roxanne dead, and declaring that the Amazons don’t need to reinvent themselves for anyone. Oh, and Nora’s actual birth name is revealed to be Victoria at this point, thus unmasking her as a key antagonist from the original Y: The Last Man comic books! This is a fantastic final flourish for Nora’s arc this season, one that fans of the source comics will definitely appreciate! It’s so frustrating then that this is yet another promising story twist that the series will likely never get to explore at this point. Hopefully a miracle happens, because Nora/Victoria expertly defied a slow start to become one of the best characters on Y: The Last Man by the end of this season!

Even though the show still couldn’t shake its occasionally messy and sluggish storytelling during its Season 1 finale, and likely series finale, Y: The Last Man did manage to close out what’s hopefully not its only season on enough high notes to feel fairly satisfying. The big shootout at the prison settlement was exciting, bloody and dramatically fulfilling, as was Nora violently seizing control of the Amazons by murdering Roxanne. The subplots among the Presidential faction characters were frustratingly undercooked by contrast, mostly existing to tease an unlikely second season and little else, but Yorick being impacted enough by Sonia’s death to finally want to grow up a bit and become an actual survivor also makes for a fairly satisfying, if disappointingly undercut result to his core character arc.

As confused and doggedly-paced as this show can sometimes be, it clearly still has a ton of ideas left to explore, and the bitter aftertaste of FX’s cancellation does sometimes hurt this climactic episode more than it deserved to. Perhaps Y: The Last Man will eventually live on somewhere else, but if not, it’s certainly been an interesting ride, if not a perfect one.

Y: The Last Man Season 1 Finale - "Victoria" Review
Y: The Last Man concludes its first and potentially only season on a mostly solid note, as the Amazons make it to Yorick, while the Culper Ring make their presence known.
THE GOOD STUFF
  • Exciting shootout at the prison settlement
  • Yorick's and Hero's bittersweet reunion
  • Nora violently taking over the Amazons
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
  • Presidential subplots are too underdeveloped
  • Culper Ring teases feel meaningless
77%Overall Score
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