Y: The Last Man recap: Taking a stand

·9 min read

Herky-jerky plotting dominates "Ready. Aim. Fire.," which exclusively focuses on the events unfolding at PriceMax. By this eighth episode's conclusion, two separate relationships reach a breaking point, although most illuminating is a bombshell revelation about the woman running the show at the big box store.

In the woods, Roxanne warns Kate (the woman who received medical treatment from Hero back in episode 4) that she can't keep her safe if she leaves the PriceMax's perimeter. Freaking out, Kate says she won't tell anyone Roxanne's (unmentioned) secret and tries to run. For that act, she gets a bullet in the back courtesy of Roxanne.

The episode cuts to Hero and company enjoying some target practice in the PriceMax parking lot. Roxanne is impressed by Hero's sharpshooting skills and gives another one of her anti-men, female-empowerment speeches. Hero tries to get Sam to take part in the fun, but he balks. Roxanne intrudes on their conversation and, after hearing that Sam used to work in theater, tells him that they all have to learn to stay alive now, and forces him to take a gun and fire off some rounds.

Inside, Nora watches a happy Mackenzie get pushed around the store in a shopping cart. A fellow resident, Nicole, asks Nora where she and Mackenzie are going next, thereby accidentally tipping Nora off to the fact that Roxanne has decided they both have to leave. Furious, Nora confronts Roxanne, who claims that it's not personal — even though it obviously is — and states that Nora simply isn't one of them. Nora begs her to reconsider, to no avail.

At this point, "Ready. Aim. Fire." unexpectedly leaps to a flashback in which Roxanne bursts into a house, gun drawn, identifying herself as the police. This is the domestic-violence shelter from which her current acolytes hail, and she finds them huddled in the living room. They're cowering because of gunshots, which Roxanne attributes to two unidentified shooters. She brings them to PriceMax, where she explains that she originally came to the store for supplies, worked hard to clear out the looters and rioters, and made it her home. She explains that she was a homicide detective for 11 years, and though they undoubtedly don't trust cops, she knows what women go through. Given that their house is no longer safe, she invites them to stay.

Back in the present, Roxanne tells the group a story about a fellow officer named Jenna who was being badmouthed by male colleagues in the break room. When Roxanne informed Jenna about this, Jenna shot back that Roxanne was simply jealous of the attention she was receiving. Under his breath, Sam mutters, "maybe she just didn't like you," which doesn't please Roxanne. Hero is forced to speak to the group about her dad and Yorick, and Roxanne aggressively pushes her to admit that these men were awful because they didn't really care about her.

Afterward, Nora approaches Sam and proposes escaping together (with Hero). Sam is uninterested, and Nora opines that he's probably mad at her for serving under a president who passed an anti-trans bill that didn't let trans men and women play sports. "Not everything is about me being trans. I just don't trust you," he replies, while also letting her know that he never played sports. Despite Nora's accurate assessment that the PriceMax isn't a permanent solution (since it'll eventually run out of stuff), Sam rejects her offer.

Nonetheless, Sam wants out, and lets Hero know it, saying they can bolt for a nearby summer lake house where there are neither guns nor crazy people. Hero, however, wants to stay, and they quarrel about it. Sam badmouths Roxanne (for trying to make Hero hate her dead brother) and chastises Hero for not thinking about the discomfort he feels here since all the women hate men. Hero contends that Sam simply isn't putting in the effort to fit in. Things escalate when Hero hears that Kelsey showed interest in Sam, and badmouths her. Sam spits back that he knows it's only a matter of time until Hero cozies up to him and then drops him (since that's her routine). Still, he admits that he didn't run off with his friends because he wanted to be with her. "If you loved me the way I love you, you would keep a single f---ing promise. But you can't," he laments.

Everyone is now eavesdropping on this fight. Roxanne interrupts, demanding Sam apologize to Hero. He won't, and curses Roxanne and bolts. That night, he leaves his bunk and steals some supplies. Roxanne catches him, and he confesses that he's just taken enough to sustain himself for a couple of days. Roxanne lets him go.

We then jump back in time to see Roxanne dragging corpses onto a tarp in the PriceMax parking lot. She tries to set them on fire but her lighter won't work. She goes to a cop car that's sitting in a lake and, after peering at the corpses inside, she turns and sees a horse. She follows it to the domestic violence shelter, where she spies on its happy residents. This is clearly how she first found them.

Returning to the main timeline, the show finds Roxanne comforting Hero, who's distraught about Sam's departure. Roxanne talks about her lousy husband, and says, "Men aren't good at staying." To cheer Hero up, Roxanne brings her outside to a bonfire surrounded by the rest of the group. Roxanne has Hero throw a piece of Sam's clothing into the fire, preaches about how women's bodies are their own temples, and then commences a "better off without them" party, full of drinking and dancing. Watching from the sidelines, Nora calls Mackenzie over and suggests going back to Washington, D.C. Mackenzie rightfully interprets this as a sign that they're being evicted from the group and blames it on her mom. She doesn't want to leave and runs back to the comforting arms of her new friends.

Once the party subsides, Nora checks on Roxanne, who's drunkenly passed out. She finds a canister of gasoline and gets an idea. She uses it and the bonfire to set the PriceMax ablaze. Before long, everyone is fleeing the unsalvageable building.

In another flashback, Roxanne tries to sink the previously seen cop car, but it won't go totally underwater, much to her frustration. She lies in the grass beside the lake, where she can see the domestic violence shelter. She returns to the PriceMax and cleans it up, and moves the facility's semi-trucks to create a protective barrier around the entrance. She goes back to the grass field and fires her gun into the air, thus instigating the panic that will give her a pretext to burst into the domestic-violence shelter, as we saw in the earlier flashback.

Alone, Sam enters a school and plays the piano. He's confronted by Principal Blackwell, who's sure her students will come back. She coaxes him into playing more piano, since "this has been the highlight of my day."

In the aftermath of the fire, the PriceMax group is in disarray. Nora pleads with Hero to travel with her to Washington, D.C., since she's sure that Hero's mom (President Jennifer) will take them in. Hero refuses. In the wake of this latest rejection, Nora stashes a few more supplies in a backpack she's keeping down by the river (she also has a gun). Thanks to the appearance of a giant bird, she notices the half-submerged cop car and finds a name tag inside, which she takes.

In yet another chronologically out-of-place flashback, we see Roxanne navigating the still-filthy PriceMax when two women burst in with guns, trying to kill each other. When they succeed, Roxanne takes one of their handguns and uses it to shoot subsequent trespassers. Obviously, this is how she first became so adept with a firearm.

Following her discovery of the name tag, a confident Nora visits Roxanne and tells the cult leader that she has a communication problem. Nora believes it was smart to rally the women against a common enemy — men — but because every guy on planet Earth is now dead, the actual reason the women stayed at PriceMax was because of its food, water, and other goods. Those are now gone. Since Nora knows Roxanne's secret, she blackmails her into accepting a new deal: Roxanne continues to be the head-honcho messiah she desperately wants to be, and Nora and Mackenzie become part of the crew's inner circle, replete with food privileges. Also, Roxanne never gets to say another word about Nora's husband or son again. Roxanne agrees.

Y: The Last Man now reveals Roxanne's real origins. In the PriceMax office pre-apocalypse, Roxanne — the store's assistant manager — gets nowhere trying to convince her boss Terry to take action against a fellow male employee who's been drawing genitals on the bathroom walls, and who grabbed the ass of his coworker, Jenna. Terry blows off this sexual harassment and suggests that Roxanne is merely jealous of the attention Jenna received (thereby proving that Roxanne's prior story was based on some fact). He threatens to punish Roxanne for stealing a Law & Order DVD box set, as if that were more important than the accusations she's made. Dejected and sent back to work, she clips her PriceMax employee name tag to her uniform.

The morning after the conflagration, Hero and Kelsey read each other's palms, and Hero learns that she has "the ring of Solomon," which means she'll serve others for the good of mankind. Roxanne gathers the group together and gives a rousing speech about how she didn't give up when she lost her breast (to cancer), her health insurance, her savings, her friends, and her husband. She praises the fearsome Amazon warriors who made their own rules, didn't back down from anything, and severed a breast so they could shoot their arrows straighter. "This is our world now!" she proclaims to cheers. Pleased that Roxanne has accepted the bargain she proposed, Nora puts Roxanne's PriceMax name tag in her pocket.

Post-Men Dispatches:

  • Sam's exit is completely Hero's fault, the byproduct of her selfishness, her lack of loyalty, and her blindness to Roxanne's evil.

  • Does Principal Blackwell live in that school, or just spend her days hanging out in it?

  • The wonky editorial structure of this episode leaves something to be desired.

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