This week’s episode of Y: The Last Man begins with Agent 355, Yorick, and Ampersand arriving in Boston on their hunt to find Dr. Allison Mann, world renowned geneticist.
Boston is a warzone, with burned and smashed cars scattered about, walls covered in spray painted messages, posters and flyers all over town, and military vehicles patrolling the streets. The graffiti seems to have a leftist slant with anti-government, anti-capitalist, “question authority” types of messages, including several picturing President Brown labeled “LIAR”, and others labeling the virus a hoax.
They proceed to Harvard University, where Dr. Mann was a professor before the gendercide, and find that a military encampment has been set up there. 355 leaves Yorick in an alley, and bluffs/bravados her way in to the camp to ask about Dr. Mann.
She’s told that protestors have been attacking the campus, and the soldiers are there to protect it. Asking what the protestors want, the soldier says that the buildings house priceless research, art, and history, and that “Someone in Washington wants to protect them. So they want to burn them down.”
So clearly President Brown and her central government have a serious PR problem on their hands, in addition to the whole Ypocalypse thing.
It turns out that the science buildings have already been destroyed. There is no information on the whereabouts of Dr. Mann.
Meanwhile, back in the alley, Yorick hears gunfire nearby, and helicopters overhead, so he picks the lock of a nearby door and enters a protest group’s headquarters, with a printing press, posters, bomb making materials and molotov cocktails. He’s confronted by a woman named Steph, and when exposes his face, she takes him for a trans man.
But in another example of the fact York is not the sharpest bulb on the tree, he gives her his real name. It wouldn’t be so bad if his name was John or Robert, but stories of the guy with the strange name who really looks like a real man, and who happens to be traveling with a monkey, is bound to start getting around.
As Steph says when she leaves, no one can hide forever when the whole world’s looking.
With Harvard being a dead end, 355 and Yorick head to Dr. Mann’s apartment, to find it long abandoned. Strangely, there’s an empty crib, with no mention of a child in her file.
Photos in Dr. Mann’s apartment lead them to investigate a nearby gentlemen’s club, where 355 shoots the lock to gain entry. Thinking the pair are there to rob her, Dr. Mann bursts out and attacks Yorick with a kitchen knife.
When things settle down, Dr. Mann is astounded to see not just one, but two, survivors of the gendercide.
Dr. Mann is an interesting character, even after just a few minutes. She reminds me a lot of Eugene from The Walking Dead, but with exactly the opposite of Eugene’s stoicism. Dr. Mann is sort of quirky, almost frenetic, and definitely a fun addition to the show.
355 tells Dr. Mann that she has been selected by the President to use her research and unrestricted access to the two surviving males to save the species. But Dr. Mann explains that with the destruction of her lab in Boston, the only way she can continue her work on human cloning is to travel to her second lab in San Francisco.
Then there’s a great scene with Dr. Mann and 355 arguing back and forth about the protestors and the role of government. Things are starting to get heated when Yorick breaks in and asks “Have either of you heard the tuna fish sandwich joke?” I was looking forward to it myself, but unfortunately, he doesn’t tell it. I’m betting they eventually come back to it before the series finale.
What is Agent 355 up to?
Then 355 does something that I don’t fully understand yet. She goes out into the hall to use the sat-phone to call the President, but then seems to make a spur of the moment decision not to call, and instead breaks the antenna on the phone. She tells Yorick she’ll find another phone, and that she’ll be back in a few hours.
If you remember back in episode two, right after the gendercide happened, 355 activated tracking beacon she had sewn into her jacket. The beacon led her to a MailboxFox store which was a front for Culper Ring operations. After finding the body of her handler, 355 takes a few items from a box, including a slip of paper with a Massachusetts address on it.
That address is where 355 heads now. So is that the only reason she broke the sat-phone, or is there more to it? She finds what appears to be an abandoned home, but upon entering, 355 is attacked and fights with a woman who turns out to be Agent 525, also of the Culper Ring.
525 is there to find Fran, the woman who recruited her. We don’t know yet if 355 is there for the same reason, or if this Fran will show up in future episodes. 525 asks 355 how she was recruited. Foster home? Juvie? “The choose us because we have no one,” she says. 355 denies this point, but it does give some interesting insight into 355’s origin. Was she abandoned or alone like 525, and ripe for the Culper Ring’s picking?
Before the gendercide, 525 had been working an op in Michigan, but had been pulled out and reassigned to the State Department. The incident happened on her first day of work there.
355 reveals that her experience was exactly the same. “You think they knew?” she asks. “We’re not supposed to ask questions,” is 525’s reply.
Back at the gentlemen’s club, Yorick and Dr. Mann are getting to know each other. Mann explains why it’s so important to her her research for her to get to her lab in San Francisco. The get drunk together and she says that even if she can figure out why Yorick survived, and is able to bring back men, that won’t begin to scratch the surface of what they’ve lost.
“Not everyone with a Y chromosome is a man,” she says. She has already mentioned that she’s gay, and now it’s clear that she lost someone close to her during the incident.
355 returns, and she’s clearly lying when she says that she has contacted the President, and that they have authorization to continue to San Francisco. She orders the other two to gear up, and they get ready to head out.
Meanwhile, at the Pentagon…
Last week’s episode focused on the Yorick group and the Hero group. This week the second story line takes us back to Washington, D.C.
General Reed briefs President Brown; the Israelis are bringing Regina Oliver back to the States, and will be arriving soon. Plans are made to meet the plane and caravan Secretary Oliver back to D.C.
Regina Oliver, you’ll remember, was a low level cabinet secretary in the prior administration. Staunchly Republican. She’s the one that Yorick described as “the anti-immigrant, anti-government, anti-vaxxer with a Twitter following.”
She was in Israel at the time of the gendercide, and presumed dead for these last few months. But if she had been in the U.S., she would have been next in line for the Presidency according to the Presidential Line of Succession. And Secretary Oliver is very keen to promote that fact.
It’s interesting to note that it’s not immediately obvious who has the stronger claim on the Presidency, a member of the House of Representatives elevated to Speaker of the House and then to President, or the Cabinet Secretary who would have been further up the line of succession if she had been around at the time.
Apparently, anyone other than the Vice President only becomes Acting President when a succession happens, they don’t actually become President. So even if Secretary Oliver had been available and elevated to Acting President, then when Jennifer Brown was elevated to Speaker of the House, she could have replaced Oliver as Acting President anyway.
But we all know it’s going to turn out to be more complicated than that, and Oliver’s arrival is just going to set things off.
Next we get another example of how bad things are around the country. Aides to President Brown tell her that protestors are storming statehouses and governors’ mansions, targeting symbols of government. With no means of mass communication available to the government, there’s little they can do for now to quell the unrest.
President Brown is told that a debris field has been found, one or both of the missing choppers. Jennifer does her best to maintain her composure, but it’s clear she’s worried about Yorick, who was on one of the helicopters.
Then there’s a scene that I’m not sure is supposed to be heart breaking, or just a sign of how conniving Kimberly Cunningham is. She’s in the restroom, and she drops her purse, which spills across the floor. We see that it’s filled with the knickknacks you’d expect in the purse of a mother of small children. Small toys, crayons, a pacifier. But Kimberly’s sons died in the gendercide.
So is she a grieving mother, unable to give up the last reminders of her dead family?
But in a prior episode, we saw Kimberly steal a box of crayons when she was talking with a Congressman’s wife also living at the Pentagon.
Was that petty theft also part of her grief, or is she gathering children’s items for some other purpose? That question we’ll have to wait to answer.
Then Christine Flores, one of President Brown’s senior aides, enters and heads straight to one of the stalls.
Kimberly is probing Christine for information about the missing helicopters and what President Brown knew about them, when she sees Christine appearing to wipe blood up off the floor. She enters the stall to see if she’s OK, and Christine says she thinks she’s having a miscarriage.
Kimberly immediately begins to help her, in what appears to be a genuine display of compassion, which is a side of her character we haven’t seen much of yet.
Christine is examined by one of the doctors on site, and it turns out that she’s actually still pregnant, about 12 weeks along. The doctor lets her and Kimberly listen to the heartbeat, and the difference in the reactions between the two women foreshadows what I’m guessing will be a story line that pits the “pro-life” folks against a woman who does not want to have a child.
Let the games begin
Later, President Brown is preparing for Secretary Oliver’s arrival. Christine comes in to let her know that they identified the bodies of the two pilots in the crash, but there is no sign of Yorick.
Jennifer wonders if 355 could have been involved in the crash, and if when she said she would “take care of them” that meant she thought Jennifer had given the OK to have them killed.
She orders Christine to pull all the information they have on the Culper Ring, anything they have. Jennifer says she “wants to find out who the fuck my son is with!”
After Regina Oliver arrives, Kimberly is in her room to welcome her and to not so tacitly express her support for Oliver’s claim to the Presidency. “People are gonna have to pick sides,” she tells Oliver.
President Brown arrives to speak with Oliver, and the cat and mouse game for power begins. I have to say, the actor playing Oliver is great, I hate her already. She’s smug and condescending, and just smarmy.
I am totally looking forward to how the political power struggle plays out.
So, the road trip to Boston has now turned into a much longer journey completely across the country. That story arc is the real meat of the show, and the part I most look forward to each week. I really hope each episode continues to be centered on Yorick and 355, with the side stories alternating from episode to episode.
I’m also looking forward to when the season is over and I can binge the whole thing at once. There haven’t been any episode defining moments yet and past episodes tend to blur into one in my memory. I think watching it as one long episode will turn out to be a better viewing experience compared to the weekly drops we’re getting now.
That’s not to say I’m not enjoying the show, I certainly am. I absolutely plan to keep watching week to week, and also to continue to post these recaps, so be sure to check back after the next episode.