You’d think with almost all of the men in the world gone, people could learn to trust one another. But that doesn’t make good television, does it? In the sixth episode of FX on Hulu’s Y The Last Man, titled “Weird Al Is Dead,” there’s not a hint of trust or happiness to be found. Not between politicians, not between women held up in a giant store, not even with the three main characters. All of which adds to a very dark, oddly dense, episode of television.
For the first time in a few episodes, all members of the Brown family and their surroundings were featured. Hero (Olivia Thirlby) is with Sam (Elliot Fletcher) and new friends Nora and Mackenzie (Marin Ireland, Quincy Kirkwood). With what we know from the comics, they’ve found themselves with what we know will end up being the Daughters of the Amazon, lead by Roxanne (Missi Pyle) and held up at a Costco-type store called Price Max. Hero’s mum, the President (Diane Lane), is still in Washington and faced with a reinvigorated rightful — and right-wing — President in Regina Oliver (Jennifer Wigmore). Together, they get the news that the Army has a beat on Agent 355 (Ashley Romans). What President Brown doesn’t know is if 355 still has Yorick, if they’ve found Dr. Mann, or what the hell is going on in general.
So that’s where we begin, with a group of soldiers looking for 355. They apparently found the downed helicopter and have tracked her to just outside Boston where she, Dr. Mann (Diana Bang), and Yorick (Ben Schnetzer) are hiding for the night. 355 gets wind of it when Yorick — again, as he always does — goes out wandering alone. He stumbles upon a weekly candlelight vigil (currently being held to the music of Radiohead) and 355 eventually follows him there. They’re having what seems to be a quiet moment of reflection when she sees the people searching for her and they’re forced to flee.
She quickly comes up with a plan to take the soldiers out, knowing they can’t run forever, but the plan gets messed up when Dr. Mann begins to turn Yorick against her. At first, he’s loyal but when he and 355 have a fight where she makes it clear to him he’s her mission, not a friend, he decides to leave her behind. Just then, the soldiers attack and, as expected, 355 takes them out. But she doesn’t kill them, per Yorrick’s request.
That all happens over the course of the episode, which bounces between all three stories. The second half of 355 and Yorick’s story is intercut with President Brown and Regina Oliver giving those soldiers orders as they find the trio. But no one has been able to find any info on 355 and they start to believe she’s not actually a Secret Service agent.
Because of that, Regina believes she needs to be killed. President Brown disagrees, but not for those reasons — she’s still curious if Yorick is alive and assumes the best when the soldiers report 355 is with two other people. Along the way, the rivalry between the actual and rightful President continues to simmer, helped by a healthy dose of devious intentions from Kimberly Campbell (Amber Tamblyn) whispering in Regina’s ear.
It’s all very tense and interesting but ultimately unfulfilling, mainly because I don’t think the show has done a good enough job to convey why anyone would not trust Agent 355. Is she always being truthful? No. But has she proven herself invaluable, capable, and trustworthy again and again? Plus is she the only person who constantly realises how important Yorick is? Yes to both. The fact that the fate of the world hangs in the balance has gotten lost a bit in terms of the titular “Last Man.” Yorick always selfishly wandering away doesn’t help and that Dr. Mann still hasn’t become a fully realised character is the cherry on top.
Meanwhile, Hero, Sam, Nora, and Mackenzie are slowly beginning to learn more about the women they’re with. It’s very much a cult-like situation with Roxanne’s anti-male point of view being the gospel. That makes things very uncomfortable for Sam, the only man there, as well as Nora because she’s not sure she wants Mackenzie growing up with those ideas in her head.
The one person who does seem interested is Hero, and the women sense it. They begin to reel her in explaining that they can see her pain and want her to be happy, telling her she doesn’t need to live in the past. Then Hero unburdens the fact she murdered someone to Roxanne, further deepening the bond. At an odd ritual the women call a “funeral,” one of the members is reborn with a new name and while Sam is disturbed by it, Hero is not.
Hero is basically the hero of this episode as the one person who isn’t completely terrified by everything surrounding her. Nora pretends to be ok because she knows the Price Max is a safe place, but Roxanne sees through her crap. It’s Hero they want and when she coldly watches the women beat up one of their own for talking to Sam, we believe she’s going to buy into it. And that’s the image we’re left with as the episode ends.
“Weird Al Is Dead” had a lot of ideas, a lot of information, but not that much narrative momentum. In fact, none of the characters actually go anywhere. They all just stay in one basic area and deal with very bad situations. For Yorick, it’s figuring out if he can trust 355 and what she really wants. For President Brown, it’s navigating her rivals while also keeping the secret of her son safe. And for Hero, it’s maybe finding a group of people who will allow her to be who she wants to be — group of possibly terrifying people who are strong, fend for themselves, and don’t give a shit about anyone.
Overall, I wasn’t that huge of a fan of this episode just because there was so little joy in it. Not that Y The Last Man is a happy show but watching everyone just get brutalised by others, by themselves, and by their friends, it’s simply not pleasant. And not even the melancholy music of Radiohead can make that any better. At least we learned more about the characters and the stakes are continuing to rise.