Monday, September 20, 2021

REVIEW: 'Y: The Last Man' - Yorick, Hero and Sam Have Different Experiences in Trying to Survive This World in 'Karen and Benji'

FX on Hulu's Y: The Last Man - Episode 1.04 "Karen and Benji"

On Jennifer's orders, Yorick and Agent 355 search for a geneticist who can unravel the mystery of how he survived. Meanwhile, Hero and Sam encounter a dangerous group of women.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of FX on Hulu's Y: The Last Man.

"Karen and Benji" was written by Donnetta Lavinia Grays and directed by Destiny Ekaragha

All the men are dead. Women are now in charge of everything. This is still a world in the midst of the apocalypse though. One society fell in an instant. It takes more time trying to rebuild. As such, every structure of society is fragile. Jennifer is trying her best to lead as President. She is making hard decisions to help ensure survival. But people are still desperate on the ground. Resources are depleting. Communities are turning against one another. New power structures are emerging. The world has changed. So many biases still exist though. That is perfectly on display in Sam's continued presence. For years, he never felt comfortable in his gender identity. His transition didn't immediately fix everything in his life. He was simply more confident and assure of himself in his identity. As such, he could focus his energy outward. Coming out as trans was something he only had to do with people he loved and trust. Life was still difficult. He lived in a society that wasn't always enlightened and willing to engage in the subject. However, he wasn't reduced down to being that one thing either. Being trans was a part of his identity. It wasn't the only thing. That allowed him to pursue a more fulfilling life. As an artist, he still struggled. He was putting the pieces together when the apocalypse came. He survived. And now, he is looked at singularly as a man. He stands out in this world. He always presents as his true and authentic self. He is desperate to get to Washington, D.C. because he is running out of hormones to maintain his health and identity. The people he meets along the way are still hateful and willing to project all of their views towards men at him. He and Hero conveniently seek comfort at a former women's shelter. He is skeptical about the place from the moment he enters the building. He is eager to take the car and get to D.C. in another day or two. Hero is nervous and disruptive to that path. She sabotages her own interests. She hurts the one person who has stood by her throughout all of this. She is often given the opportunity to prove herself as valuable though. Her skills have merit in this new world. Sam is still struggling with his place. He is once again facing discrimination and hatred. Hero always protects him. She has that kindness within her. She extends it to Nora and Mackenzie as well. Of course, it's convenient that these two groups of people meet each other on the road. It's something the narrative just has to force into being. Hero can't hide who she truly is either. Nora knows that Hero is the President's daughter. She immediately understands the power that information has. As such, it's smart to conceal it for the moment. This group is at the mercy of survivors armed with guns and sitting on a massive stockpile of resources. That too is valuable in this world. Everyone is fighting over the basic necessities. It makes countless people do desperate things. That leads to more getting hurt. Not enough resources are still around to save those lives. It's all fluid and tragic. Most people aren't willing to admit the hard truths or see the nuances of life. They want to believe in a binary version of events. The world has always been much more complicated than that. Some have had the luxury to ignore that reality. Others could never let their guard down for a second. Yorick has never had to worry about his survival. He's always been given the freedom to thrive. He has benefitted from people inherently trusting him as a straight white man. He feels entitled to everything as well. He also doesn't want to see his own importance when he is a biological miracle. He wants to pass the responsibility on to someone else. He doesn't want to walk this path. It seems marred by death and chaos. He must do it though. Agent 355 is annoyed by his privilege and ignorance. They find peace eventually. That only comes from agreeing to prioritize his search for Beth as well. Yorick still wields that power. The dynamics haven't shifted too drastically in this pairing. And yet, they both exist as characters with mysteries at the heart of who they are. With Yorick, that mystery is already known. Not many people are left who can help find an answer. With Agent 355, her backstory remains shrouded in secrecy. It's vividly on display in the opening sequence. That's a fanciful and artistic life she was living. It's playing out in the present too. That offers a sense of yearning for something more. She remains guarded. She doesn't trust Yorick with any personal details. That's not necessary to advance their mission. Of course, they don't seem to make much progress here beyond obtaining a motorcycle. That drags this episode down a little bit. It leaves the storytelling feeling a bit too conventional despite the fantastical premise.