Takes a little energy out of our recap when you know the series wasn’t picked up for season two but, well, here we are. No Yorick? No 355? No President? No problem. The eighth episode of Y: The Last Man, titled “Ready. Aim. Fire” focused solely on the large superstore called PriceMax, providing fascinating new motivations and information on all the characters within. Jumping between the past and present, that focus allowed the show to dive deeper and in ways much more ambitious than usual, resulting in a rewarding, excellent episode of television.
Since she was first introduced, there was this sense that Roxanne (Missy Pyle)— the leader of the women in the PriceMax—was going to play a bigger role in FX’s Y: The Last Man. Well, that kicked into full effect here. The episode started with a curious scene involving her shooting one of her followers for trying to escape, followed by revealing she wants Nora (Marin Ireland) and her daughter Mackenzie (Quincy Kirkwood) to leave. “You’re not our people,” she said, and that couldn’t be more accurate.
You see, this was when the episode went into a flashback and we were able to get some much-needed backstory for Roxanne. It took a second to figure out it was a flashback but it became obvious when we saw the moment she first met the women who lived in the home for domestic abuse. The same home Hero (Olivia Thirlby), Sam (Elliot Fletcher), Nora, and Mackenzie took shelter in. Roxanne claimed to be a police officer and told the women they were no longer safe in this place. Thankfully, she had a place they could be safe: the PriceMax. The episode then went back to the present, with Hero being interrogated by Roxanne about her brother in front of everyone while a skeptical Sam watched on. Their relationship slowly eroded over the course of the episode, leading to Hero’s more or less full buying into Roxanne’s group, but that story got overshadowed by those increasingly shocking flashbacks.
In almost Christopher Nolan fashion, the next thing we saw was Roxanne trying to burn bodies in the parking lot of the PriceMax. There just happened to be a police car parked there and, unable to burn the bodies, she puts them in the car which she then tries to dump in a river, to no avail. Later we see her strategically positioning the PriceMax trucks around the entrance, giving a small bit of security. We assume, since the other women aren’t with her, this is before the previous flashback in which she said she was a police officer. Plus, we know one thing for sure, this woman is not the police officer she’ll soon claim she is.
Back in the present, after an intense argument between Sam and Hero where he tried to get her to leave, and she tried to get him to stay, Sam does leave by himself. And, as expected, Roxanne throws a “Fuck Him” party to help Hero get over it. Mackenzie is having a great time at the party and does not take kindly to Nora hinting they may have to leave soon. Which is when Nora, drunk and out of options, sets fire to the PriceMax after everyone goes to bed. Honestly, watching the episode I didn’t think she’d do it, but she did and the chaos gave her a chance to grab Hero and help her out of the building. Nora still feels like Hero is a one-way ticket back to the Pentagon, since she’s the President’s daughter and everything, but Hero has no interest. With that door closed, again, Nora is running low on options—so she goes for a walk. We get to see that she’s been strategically stealing and hiding supplies for an eventual getaway and that, wait… what’s that in the nearby water? Oh, it’s a police car filled with corpses and some kind of name tag. Which is when you got that M. Night Shyamalan feel about the whole episode. It couldn’t be, right? No way!
Though it’s revealed in a much smoother, more dynamic way than I’m describing here, we find out that Roxanne was the Assistant Manager at the PriceMax, and certainly not a police officer. She was also wildly discriminated against at her job because of her gender. After all the men died, she held up in the store and eventually two women show up fighting with each other. They both die by the others’ hand and Roxanne takes their guns. Instead of welcoming in any other, more peaceful, survivors who showed up looking for much-needed supplies, Roxanne decides to murder everyone who came through the door. This hardened her and gave her the confidence to trick a whole bunch of vulnerable women to be her friends and followers.
Nora figures this out along with the audience and basically blackmails Roxanne. She explains that now that the PriceMax, with its abundance of food and security, is gone the women don’t really have a compelling reason to stay with her anymore. So Nora, being in public relations, says that in exchange for shelter and protection for her and her daughter, she’ll help this dynamic, charismatic fraud continue her charade. Which is when Roxanne gives a rousing speech about women of the Amazon, who she says cut off one breast to be able to shoot better and killed any man who got in their way. “This is our world now,” Roxanne says, while giving a knowing glimpse to the person now pulling the strings, Nora.
Truly, “Ready. Set. Aim” was excellent. We got to see how Roxanne went from lowly store manager to hardened killer and leader of women, how Nora used her political savvy to gain some more power and position, and watched Hero begin to evolve into the independent leader she seems destined to be. We also got to see Sam… play piano in a high school and reference Casablanca? That was weird—and surely there’s more to come between him and the principal—but it didn’t take away from the rest of an excellent episode of Y: The Last Man.
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