In episode 6 of Y:The Last Man, 355 and Yorick are on the run with Dr Mann, who adds a third, distinctly different opinion to the discussion. Regina Oliver is ensconced in the Pentagon’s power structure, positioned as a foil for whatever President Brown tries to accomplish, no matter how large or small. Kim and Christine each try to figure out how far they can push the other with regard to Christine’s pregnancy. Hero, Sam, Nora and Mack discover more about the harsh methods favored by Roxanne and the Amazons at PriceMax.
As the episode opens, General Reed’s elite squad of 3 trackers reaches Boston and questions Corporal Permar and her tear gas team from episode 5. Meanwhile, Agent 355 (Ashley Romans), Dr Mann (Diana Bang) and Yorick (Ben Schnetzer) have stopped for a pee break. While the two women wait for Yorick to finish, Allison wonders whether Yorick masturbates. She feels it’s too early in her dysfunctional relationship with Yorick for her to bring it up. What is the correct amount of time to wait after stabbing someone with a chef’s knife before discussing the details of their sex life, anyway?
Allison is too busy worrying about maintaining Yorick’s fertility to figure out post apocalyptic etiquette, so she tries to foist the job off onto 355. 355 has had even fewer hours of normal socialization (and sleep) than Allison, plus she’s legit busy trying to keep them alive, so she begs off. She’s not even moved by Allison’s insistence that Yorick needs to masturbate frequently for science, the children, and to save the world.
Pause to contemplate the heavy burden Yorick carries in his loins.
Allison changes the subject. She’s ready to make camp for the night, but 355 has them on a strict schedule. They need 20 miles a day of forward progress to keep her satisfied. Allison gives her the “I’m a rebel who is physically unable to listen to authority figures, even when it’s not clear where their authority stems from and it would clearly be in my best interests to pay attention” speech.
Before 355 can make a suitably cutting speech in reply (Allison referred to her as a mere bodyguard, a totally uncalled for insult), she realizes she hears music in the distance and Yorick should have returned by now. They follow the sound to a stone enclosure where people are slowly carrying lit candles into a central area while a choral version of Radiohead’s Karma Police plays.
Yorick has been inevitably drawn there as the last representative of Y chromosome dudes everywhere. He’s wearing his raincoat/mask disguise, but a trans man in a Pink Floyd shirt stops him on the way into the central enclosure to let him know that this is a safe space. No one will bother him at this weekly memorial ritual for the dead, so he can take off his mask and hood. Yorick does so without question.
He’s a trusting Hufflepuff all the way.
Yorick and the other man chat about the male musicians they’ve loved and lost (which is all of them 😭 😱,- and I thought losing Bowie, Prince and Lennon was hard) including Radiohead and Weird Al Yankovic. Hero took Yorick to a Radiohead concert once because she was so embarrassed by his love for Weird Al. Yorick fell in love with Radiohead, but didn’t stop loving Weird Al. He and the other man pause for a moment to mourn the way the Event took (almost) all of the Y chromosomes- coolness and talent of any kind couldn’t save them.
Yorick and the other man pass through the narrow stone doorway that acts as a portal into the ritual space. It feels like a transition zone between the old and new worlds, but also between isolation and community, between fighting change and accepting a new life. (To mourn the dead, first one must accept that they are gone and aren’t coming back.) The moment he enters, Yorick stops to take in the scene. The lyrics that play at this point are part of the chorus for Karma Police: “This is what you’ll get (repeated 3 times) when you mess with us.”
355 grabs Yorick as soon as he’s walking alone again and orders him to put his mask on. Yorick argues that they’re safe here and pushes a candle into her hands, encouraging her to take in the moment instead. They join the mourners who slowly circle a stage covered in artfully stacked boxes with more lit candles inside. (Are they hollowed out mini TVs or computer monitors symbolizing the death of the old ways?) A few people also stand on stage and sing.
How often does anyone tend to this side of 355, especially someone who knows she’s an agent? It’s a powerful ceremony, evoking the loss of not just males, but culture, civilization, capitalism and patriarchy as well. The mourners are asked to simply reflect on and grieve the complexity of the loss.
Karma police I've given all I can It's not enough I've given all I can But we're still on the payroll... For a minute there I lost myself, I lost myself .
Once she has a moment to let the mood surround her, 355 tells Yorick that he was right, this was a worthwhile stop. But she also teases that she’ll put him on a leash if he doesn’t stop wandering away without telling her where he’s going. He doesn’t look averse to the idea.
Maybe this is a good time for that conversation Allison mentioned earlier? Yorick might not mind some help with maintaining his fertility. For science.
But no. Allison passes by and says she burned her hand on her candle. Then Captain Nguyen (Marianna Phung) arrives, full of military singlemindedness, flashing 355’s Secret Service photo around. Yorick and 355 put their hoods back up, because this show follows the Arrowverse school of flimsy disguises.
355 pickpockets the photo from Nguyen, then hustles her two charges out of the ritual just as someone tells Nguyen she’s there. They run to a nearby church to regroup. Allison and Yorick question why the Army is chasing them, since Yorick’s mom is the Commander in Chief. 355 admits that she lied about calling DC when they were in Boston, but assures them that Jennifer (Diane Lane) wouldn’t send the Army after them.
355 tries to explain that in her world, information is dispensed on a “need to know” basis. Lives often depend on limiting the circle of knowledge. She trails off as she realizes that they don’t get it, telling them that Yorick asks too many questions. Yorick explains that in his world, he can’t trust someone who lies so frequently and goes to such extremes to protect the lies. 355 lies some more during this conversation.
Both Yorick and 355 have a point. Beth apparently used Yorick as her NY boyfriend and knew she would ditch him when she was ready to leave town. She let him think they might have a future because that was easier for her. He’s realizing that he needs to be more than a pawn in a more powerful woman’s life and he needs the truth, not the pretty lie. But 355 legitimately needs to keep her herd of cats moving, not waste time convincing them that every decision she makes is the correct one.
As a scientist, Allison believes in sharing knowledge. However, she’s still keeping some secrets of her own. Any researcher who’s doing original work knows not to share it too early so that it doesn’t get stolen. Allison still isn’t sure who 355 and Yorick even are or who they’re working for, so of course her trust is still provisional.
Right now, 355 wants to set up the church as a trap where she can lie in wait for the three Army trackers who are following them, then “take them off the board”. She lies again and says she doesn’t kill people. I think so far, she hasn’t made any hands on kills during the present day of the series. Her bombs and/or a lack of medical attention may have technically killed the people who’ve died as a result of her actions. Maybe denying responsibility for those deaths helps her sleep at night, but Allison and Yorick both immediately understand that 355 isn’t telling the whole truth and that she intends to do grave harm to the trackers.
Lying to them doesn’t improve the group’s trust issues. 355 has so many trust issues of her own and is so deep into the mentality of an agent instead of a regular person that she can’t put herself in their place right now. But, as she asks them, what choice other than disabling the trackers is there? With Yorick and Amp along, they aren’t capable of disappearing into crowds easily. Occasionally getting rid of witnesses is their only options for buying a significant amount of time.
At the Pentagon, Kimberly (Amber Tamblyn) and Regina (Jennifer Wigmore) bond over the memorial wall. Kimberly’s family is represented on the wall, but Regina didn’t have a special man in her life. Regina insists that she loves men, but never found one who could handle her and her career. Uh huh.
Kimberly says her father thought Regina was a pistol. Regina says he used much worse language than that, but Kimberly denies it- her father never stooped to that level.
At least not where his daughter could hear it.
Kim notes the scandalous way the current leaders have shut Regina out of power. Why, she’s a feminist icon! Regina reminds her that only liberals are allowed to call themselves feminists. Her mother was a Democrat- Regina voted for Reagan to spite her, then continued down the path of oppositional politics. She has no ideology or goals, she just opposes whoever is in power when she’s not. She calls Jennifer’s bipartisan government the Establishment Sorority and says the Tragedy has made the new president invincible. Kimberly hints that she knows of a weakness.
Kim spent the first five episodes wandering the Pentagon alone, looking for a close friend and partner in crime, someone who would listen to her and take her seriously. She was open to closeness with everyone or anyone: Jennifer, Christine, the Secret Service agents, the moms in the basement and her own mother. She’s finally found what she was looking for in Regina, another Republican woman who’s been dismissed as no longer necessary and a bit of a joke.
Yorick startles awake to the sound of footsteps above him in the church sanctuary. He notices 355 sleepwalking in the choir loft. It’s been a couple of episodes since her first sleepwalking incident, when she almost walked off a cliff. Her worst trauma must have something to do with heights. Maybe she’s secretly suicidal.
At first, Yorick doesn’t realize she’s asleep. He goes upstairs and speaks to her normally, apologizing for his reaction to the lies while trying to explain his position more clearly. He wishes she had just told them from the beginning that she couldn’t make contact with his mother. When she takes a step too close to the edge, he figures out that she’s not conscious and gently pulls her back from the edge, then guides her to bed without waking her.
We don’t see inside 355’s dreams this time, but tears run down her face. She turns her head toward Yorick before she takes the step forward, almost like a silent cry for help- his humanity is what could break her out of her cold existence, but her waking self can’t allow it. Allison silently watches from the lower level of the church.
At the PriceMax, several women sit in a circle for a male detox support group meeting. One of the women, Laura (Jayli Wolf) explains that when she used to work in a bar, her manager would grope her occasionally. Roxanne (Missi Pyle) tells her to dig deeper. She brings up her husband, Carl, but Roxanne says they’ve all heard enough about him. Laura brings up her high school boyfriend, who took advantage of her while she was on drugs and passed out. Roxanne says, “Before that.”
Sam (Elliot Fletcher) broods as he watches a hen peck around the dining area. Hero (Olivia Thirlby) joins him, asking if he’s okay. He doesn’t approve of chickens in the eating area. Hero points out that the hens provide fresh eggs for the humans. Sam’s response is that the PriceMax women are all rather earnest for people with a lot of guns. Hero thinks they’re just messed up.
These two should look in a mirror. Also, I feel like there’s a deeper metaphor going on with the chicken conversation. There are a whole lot of male and female fertility symbols in this scene and this episode and a whole lot of discussion and denial of pain. Though birds don’t have Y chromosomes (they have W and V instead of X and Y), we aren’t shown a rooster.
Hero presents Sam with a vial of testosterone and tells him there’s a whole stash of it in the pharmacy. Sam looks happier than usual and pockets the vial, but doesn’t thank Hero or move to collect more (or the syringes he’ll also need).
Hero also raided the Xanax supply and brought some to share with Sam. Despite their slightly sinister surroundings, he doesn’t hesitate to pop a one, reasoning that he’s in emotional pain because his (male) hamster died. Hero pops a couple, too. This is the stuff that horror movies are made of. Laura literally just said she was assaulted once while she was high.
Hero is hoping the Xanax will soften Sam toward PriceMax. She knows he’s creeped out by the women from the shelter (and everywhere else, combined with the fact that he didn’t die with the men, leaving him in a culture of women, emphasized and symbolized here with the hens). But she wants to stay and get to know the kindred spirits she’s met. Sam doesn’t think he has anything in common with Roxanne’s abused cult members. He manages to think this while remaining in a no win relationship with an addict.
They make some flirty jokes about the Xanax and emotional pain, just in case you thought that this is a healthy relationship. Then Sam returns to complaining that no one likes him. Hero assures him that the other women are totally into him- he’s so dreamy. She tells him that she’s not taking Xanax for emotional pain because “I’m the lucky b**ch that didn’t lose the man she loves.”
It’s disingenuous, given where she was when the men died, and they both know it.
Roxanne makes a speech about the horrific domestic violence, including murder, she saw on the police force. Nora decides Mack doesn’t need to hear the gory details, so they get up to leave. Roxanne stops them, insisting that it’s essential for Mack to get this education. She questions Mack about the sexist ways that men used to speak to her. Nora stops the interrogation, expecting Roxanne to respect that Mack lost her father and brother and is grieving. Roxanne says, “Grief can’t protect her. Or you.”
No, grief won’t protect her, but she doesn’t need protection from men anymore. The women all need help recovering from domestic violence and other forms of trauma- as Nora pointed out, they’re all grieving in some way. And the threat of violence isn’t gone. But the particular threat caused by men who murder, rape and exploit women without remorse is over, for now.
Roxanne needs to work through her own trauma and wake up to the new world she’s living in, instead of fighting the last war. I suspect she wants them to constantly relive the violence they suffered through in order to keep their brains in emergency mode, so they’ll continue to feel like they need her to protect them. If they realize the world has changed, then they might get bored with her message. And she doesn’t have any other ideas.
They’re interrupted by the PriceMax early warning system, consisting of pots and pans strung up on a wire that runs throughout the store. It’s probably connected to a tripwire on the perimeter outside. The pots and pans clang together as the line shakes. The women reach for their weapons, run for their battle stations and set up barricades. Kelsey tells Hero and Sam to get moving. Sam, the only man there, is slow to get involved in protecting their home (as Hedwig Robinson says, he wants all of the privileges of being a man and none of the responsibilities).
Laura tells Nora that Mack is safe with the other kids, then they assume sniper positions on the roof, each with an assault rifle. Laura puts in a good word for Roxanne. Then she shoots a warning shot at the small group of women, accompanied by a child, who approach the store. Roxanne and an armed posse come out to parley with them. She tells them to leave, even when they say they’re starving. The leader begs them to let her daughter stay, but Roxanne won’t separate mother and child. As they leave, Laura tells Nora that it’s much worse outside than at the PriceMax- as if Nora didn’t just come in from the wider world. Nora watches the other group leave.
Maybe Nora had forgotten that she could get kicked back out into the cold. Maybe Laura was reminding herself of the same thing.
While 355 works on her traps, Allison goes through her stuff. She finds the photo Nguyen flashed around and the cross country route 355 intends to take, then takes her evidence to Yorick. Allison thinks they should leave 355 since the trackers are searching for the agent, not them, plus she disagrees with 355’s choice of highway. Allison wants to take I-80, a northern route west, while 355 has them going south.
Yorick is appalled at Allison’s breach of privacy and doesn’t want to leave 355, who’s kept him alive through threats Allison hasn’t bothered to find out about. 355 hasn’t left him when he’s made mistakes. Allison reduces his feelings to a crush, which is insulting- 355 is a trained agent, she’s a connection to his mother and she’s proven she can be trusted with his life. Allison is none of those things, though Yorick is trying to show her respect and bring her into the group as an equal. The way she and 355 are playing tug of war over him and sniping at each other is tough on him.
Also- this would be why Allison is the scientist and 355 is the agent. I-80 is the obvious, most direct route from Pennsylvania to San Francisco, so there will be soldiers all over it. But also, it goes through several major cities and through the Rockies, which are difficult to get through at any time of year, especially since there’s no guarantee they can use a vehicle. They’d be better off going south and avoiding the mountains and the snow. They’d still have to get through the desert, but if they can find off road vehicles and/or horses, they can pack water and food, then travel at night if it’s hot.
Nora brings Roxanne some tea, along with an apology for their earlier argument. She feels safe at PriceMax. Roxanne asks if she’s worried they’re going to kick her out and says they don’t like turning people away. She developed keen instincts as a cop. Nora says she doesn’t have any instincts, so she’s glad someone does. Roxanne tells her to stop groveling.
Roxanne changes her shirt in front of Nora, revealing that she’s had a mastectomy on the right side. Nora is uncomfortable with the other woman’s exposed chest. She explains that her mother had a double mastectomy, but would never discuss it. Nora doesn’t even know if her mother had implants. She says they “caught it too late”, implying her mother died from the cancer.
WASP culture- why talk about something when you can bury it and let it fester into generations of mental illness, addiction and abuse instead? 🤯
Roxanne: “The doctors don’t listen. Especially the men. Friends of mine would wake up after surgery with lumps of skin, little flesh pockets, even though they’d asked the docs to just take them off. You spend months fighting off the cancer, you forget to fight off the doctors. Your mom know about the Amazons? Greek gals, one b**b. Cut ’em off to show their strength. That’s what we called ourselves in the chat, forum, whatever you call it. Anyway, the tea was a nice gesture. Thank you… It’s also kind of pathetic. [Nora says, “I’m sorry.”] Will you stop saying that? You just keep oozing this penitent f**king forgive-me energy. The BS was for the men. And that’s over, okay? Stop apologizing for who you are. You want to get comfortable here? Want people to like you? You got to step all the way in. Show us that you’re on board. This “one foot out” horses**t doesn’t inspire trust, Nora. The world ended. It’s okay to be yourself. Go on.”
Nora gives her a polite, fake smile and shuffles out.
I wonder who Roxanne’s instincts are telling her Nora really is. To some extent, she’s a chameleon, so she’s showing her authentic self as she tries to figure out how to blend in with the other women in the shelter. But Nora is also intelligent, efficient and ruthless. She uses her adaptability and intelligence to rise to the top. Her groveling was ineffective because she normally wouldn’t bother. But she can’t figure how to make herself uniquely useful in this environment and she doesn’t like to view herself as a victim.
I don’t think either woman understands the other yet. Nora is unable to ask for or accept help easily because she was raised to view emotions and needs as weaknesses she wasn’t allowed- she’s meant to earn her keep. She’s the self-sufficient island who’s quietly and steadily there for others, keeping her office and home running smoothly. But she’s often overlooked because her contributions tend to be in the form of emotional labor and behind the scenes machinations. She’s the ghost in the machine, with a nuanced view of gender, having seen positives and negatives on both sides.
Roxanne blames and vilifies all men, while letting most women off the hook. She’s careful to only give permanent membership in her Amazons to women who reinforce her worldview. It sounds like she was a victim of medical abuse as well as hearing about it from friends. She and Nora had a moment of real connection over their cancer stories, before Nora shut down.
Nora prospered in the halls of male power and isn’t willing to face how bad the old world was for some women. Roxanne is so badly traumatized that she can’t believe men are truly gone. In a way, she’s right- male influence isn’t gone. Some women are working to ensure patriarchy’s unfair, classist systems live on, even though few men are left to enforce them. But Nora is also right. Roxanne is stuck reliving old wounds and needs to become more forward-thinking.
It’s communal bath time for the ladies of the PriceMax. While the old hands wash and scrub with abandon, no matter what they look like, Hero hides in a tub with the water up to her neck and her hands concealing her breasts, looking uncomfortable. According to typical Western standards, Hero has an attractive body, while many of the other women would be considered too much of one thing or another. As we just heard Roxanne say to Nora, those standards were created to please men and the men are gone. The Amazons are taking care of themselves, without fear. It’s a joy to see so many body types moving freely, without concern for how others might perceive their unclothed bodies in motion.
But Hero brought her judgmental man to the PriceMax with her. She’s not remotely free from those societal norms. She imposes them on herself from within, as women are taught to do from birth. Whenever she starts to leave the restrictive norms of femaleness behind, Sam pulls her right back in. Sure, the Amazons have norms of their own, some of which are unhealthy. These women, including Roxanne, are all recovering from something, whether it’s abuse or addiction. Nora is recovering from allowing herself to be used as a tool of the patriarchy as a survival strategy, though she hasn’t figured that out yet. It will take a while for them to reach full mental health, if they ever do.
Several of the women stop what they’re doing and watch Hero as she’s sitting self-consciously in the tub. They say that it seems she doesn’t like herself much. Hero replies that she’s had enough therapy and she doesn’t need them to read her.
Her tells are obvious. They can stay quiet about what they all see, but a perceptive 5 year old could “read” her.
One of the women says that she understands. When she first came to PriceMax she didn’t want to feel better. She just wanted to forget. She was angry and terrified. And all of the people who hurt her were suddenly just gone. Sometimes she’d be happy about that, but then she’d be consumed with guilt. Roxanne saved her life. She could save Hero’s too.
Hero tells them that she and Sam will be leaving soon. Several women gather around Hero’s tub and tell her they can see that she’s tired, but she can stop now. “Whatever you did, whoever you were before, you don’t have to carry that with you.”
It’s an unfathomable thought- stop running, stop carrying the burden of prior trauma, sins, abuse. I find as I’m writing these recaps that I have to continuously remind myself that men are no longer a threat in their world. Just leaving behind the constant threat of rape is such an equalizer that it changes everything, even though their world is far from perfect. Women are far from perfect, even without men or their influence. Current generations would continue to act out their trauma and ingrained fears, but what would a matriarchal world look like in a few generations?
Cut to Kelsey approaching Sam. She says that it must be difficult for him at the PriceMax, since there’s so much man hate. He says men earned the reputation. Kelsey seductively tells Sam that she’s not like the other girls. She only pretends to hate men because she has to in order to stay at the PriceMax. Then she asks if he’s excited for tonight. He doesn’t understand what she means. She decides not to spoil the surprise, but whispers in his ear that it’s a funeral.
When the women leave the bath, Hero blends in with the group. Sam notices and doesn’t look happy.
Allison tries to make friends with Amp by sharing a jug of communion wafers. It’s a tough sell. No one consumes them for the taste.
Yorick helps 355 prepare one of her traps. She goes over the plan, which includes him and Allison sleeping in the basement while she does everything else. Yorick asks for a larger role, but 355 won’t allow it. He suggests that she take a nap while he finishes setting up, since she looks tired, but she refuses. He asks her if she realizes that she sleepwalks and how dangerous it and the resulting fatigue are. “Maybe it’s not the worst thing to have someone help you every now and then.”
355 is startled when Yorick says he knows she sleepwalks. When he offers to help, she lashes out at him, accusing him of using her as a substitute for the people he misses or exploiting her for his own amusement. “I am about to put myself in between you and whatever comes through that door. That’s a good deal. For you.” And she walks out.
Let’s note that Yorick didn’t ask for or want any of this. In fact, the entire mission happened at 355’s insistence to Jennifer and is meant to take away Yorick’s normal life and turn him into a lab rat. So no, none of this is a good deal for him. But he’s gone along with it, with a reasonable amount of cooperation, most of the time, because it’s the right thing to do. Sure, he messes up, but she keeps him in the dark and treats him (and now Allison) like a child, which means that much of the time, he doesn’t have the information he needs to make the best decisions. Because normally, adults involved in voluntary endeavors have freedom of movement. Or is Yorick actually 355’s prisoner?
In other words, while Nora is often self sufficient to the point of isolation in the service of providing other people with what they need, she still retains some kind of personal identity and boundaries. 355 has no personal identity and her boundaries are set according to mission parameters. She’s unable to either accept or politely decline help, instead perceiving it as a threat to her flimsy personal boundaries. If Yorick treats her with the kind of caring emotion he might normally show a friend or a work colleague, 355’s emotional walls might break down and she can’t afford that.
Yorick has had enough of 355’s shenanigans. He matches downstairs to find Allison, who finally coaxes Amp out of his crate.
Christine waits behind a corner for Kim to walk in that direction. When Kim approaches, she pretends she’s late for a meeting. Kim follows her, offering to support her during her pregnancy. Christine turns and says, “I’m not sure…” Kim interrupts, assuming that Christine isn’t sure she wants to keep the baby and pulling her into a private corner to talk. “I’m not sure what you’ve heard about Christians, but we’re actually pretty understanding.”
As long as there’s something she wants.
Kim makes a speech that moves quickly through punishment by God, gifts from God, Eve and the apple and her Christian desire to help Christine. Finally she gets to her point- she wants to adopt Christine’s baby. Christine is shocked, since she hasn’t said anything about giving the baby up and has only hinted that the baby was conceived under what are now less than ideal circumstances.
Maybe she was a surrogate for a gay or infertile couple who died, maybe she intended to be a single mother, but that feels overwhelming to her now. Her negative feelings during her bleeding episode were natural, given the state of the world. Kim wants to be a mother again so badly she’s ready to steal a child from the first potentially ambivalent mother of color she finds.
Christine tells Kim she has to go. Kim says to think about her offer.
The part where Christine was waiting for Kim to find her is strange, since she played hard to get afterward. There was a similar moment in episode 5, where Kim watched Christine walk down the hall. Maybe she’s considering giving Kim her baby, but wants to vet her first, or she’s sympathetic to Kim’s politics and wants to get closer to her for that reason. She could be acting as a spy for Jennifer’s side, using her pregnancy as a reason to gain Kim’s confidence. Kim didn’t give her a chance to say much, so we don’t know if she had her own prepared speech.
Time for the “funeral” Kelsey mentioned to Sam earlier. The ritual takes place in the public bathing area, with low lighting provided by homemade glowlights. The multitalented Amazons are crafty as well as handy with a weapon.
Roxanne gives a “eulogy” for Laura, who appears to be alive as they stand next to each other in front of the group. “Tonight we must say goodbye to someone we have grown to love. Laura was born in Philadelphia in 1992. Moved to Richmond when she was 15. Attended the University of Delaware. Moved to Baltimore and married Carl Martin. [Loud boos from the other women.] She has worked as, among other things, a bartender- makes a mean Long Island. And has become a vital part of our community. But tonight we must say goodbye.”
Roxanne’s eulogy gives the basics of Laura’s life along with some praise and a couple of details about what makes her special to the group. It’s a template Roxanne can use each time they perform the ritual that will also feel personal and positive for each woman.
Laura removes her robe to reveal that she’s naked underneath. She lies down on the floor next to 3 buckets filled with dirt. A few at a time, the rest of the women approach and pour a handful or small shovelful of dirt over Laura and saying, “Goodbye, Laura.” Some rub the dirt into her skin.
Nora takes a turn at pouring dirt on Laura, but she does it with a shovel, doesn’t say goodbye to Laura and watches Roxanne the whole time. She’s still trying to gain Roxanne’s approval rather than getting to know the rest of the women and being part of their lives. Her whole focus is on gaining favor from the person with the most power and she has little time for anyone else in the community, whether it’s the Amazons or the federal government.
When the women are done burying Laura, they lead her to a bathtub at the front of the room. She climbs in, then a few women wash the worst of the dirt off her, washing her previous life and troubles away. When they’re done, they gently push her all the way underwater. She stays under for several seconds, now a baby in the womb, attended by a single midwife.
When she emerges and stands up, smiling, Roxanne says, “Welcome…” Laura fills in the new name she’s taken for this new life, “Athena”. Roxanne finishes welcoming her and wraps her in a towel. The rest of the Amazons cheer for their newly reborn and initiated member. Several women hug Athena.
Sam, Hero, Nora and Mack look disturbed, as if they’ve never seen a coming of age or initiation ceremony before. Sam even says, “This so f**king weird.” Seems like a trans man ought to understand the concept of being reborn to your true self and taking a new name to reflect that. Hero doesn’t answer him- she ignores his comment and starts to look intrigued. She understands what’s happening here.
Sam walks out of the room, followed by Kelsey, the man addict. She wants him to return to the ritual. When he refuses, she assumes he thinks they’re all crazy, thus handing the power to judge the group over to Sam. He has no right as an authority in that place, unless you believe men are automatic authority figures.
Which is what Sam and Kelsey believe.
Sam doesn’t answer Kelsey directly about the ritual. He deflects by asking what happened to Kate, the injured woman Hero tried to save when they first arrived at the PriceMax. The question is an implicit accusation of foul play. He continues, suggesting that he’s the only one who wants to know the truth, even though Kate was friends with the others.
Kelsey tries to explain that Kate is dead, so they can’t ask her what happened and there aren’t any other avenues of investigation open to them. She tells him that he needs to lay low- she’s not even supposed to be talking to him alone. Sam doesn’t understand what she means. Before Kelsey can try to explain in words a 5 year old would understand, she’s called outside. She knows she’s in trouble, but she goes.
Jennifer is called to the War Room just as the operation to capture 355 is about to begin. General Reed didn’t want to bother her until they had eyes on 355, so she had no idea how much progress the military has made. Jennifer tries not to show her emotions when Peggy tells her there are two others in the church.
Regina is also in the room and has been brought up to speed. Jennifer makes a sour face when it becomes clear that she’s been kept informed of progress on the op. But Jennifer has discouraged the General from putting much effort into this operation and has given the impression that she’s not interested in updates. We know why Jennifer is acting strangely, but to Peggy, it seems like Jennifer is incompetent in military matters as well as unfair and partisan when it comes to Kim and now Regina.
Earlier, a team from the 10th Mountain Division spotted 355 in the church. Meanwhile, Regina and the General have been examining her Secret Service file and discovered it’s filled with dead ends and irregularities. Jennifer tries to explain the discrepancies away with the changes from The Event, but Regina can tell the issue goes deeper than that. Peggy is sure 355 works for someone other than the Secret Service.
Reed turns on the loudspeaker so they can all listen to the operation over the radio as it happens. Jennifer makes one more attempt to cancel the op by suggesting they avoid a confrontation with a dangerous unknown operative, but Reed and Regina are certain their people are up to the challenge. They give each other a look that shows they think Jennifer is being ridiculous in doubting the skills of the US military.
355 sits outside by a campfire in order to attract attention. When she goes inside to check on Yorick and Allison, she discovers they’ve bolted out an open window in the basement. They’re in the woods, making a run for it, but with no idea where they’re going or what they’re doing. To emphasize that point, Allison loudly trips and falls, alerting
Javert Captain Nguyen to her location.
Nguyen asks Jennifer for permission to engage the enemy- Allison and Yorick.
They are loudly arguing over whether to turn back or not. Now that she’s out in the dark, scary woods without protection, Allison has changed her mind about leaving 355. Yorick regrets his earlier impulsiveness; is carrying a noisy monkey; and can’t believe Allison convinced him to betray 355, who can kill with a shoelace in her sleep. Allison pretends they came to the decision equally, which is sort of true, if you forget that Yorick never would have even thought of leaving 355 on his own.
Now that Allison has realized what a stunningly bad idea it was, she needs for it not to have been hers. They knew the US military was about to attack them when they jumped out the window in the dark and left their “bodyguard” behind. It’ll be a miracle if 355 gets these two to the state line alive.
Jennifer hesitates, then gives Nguyen permission to “Proceed with caution.” Her hesitation and the order to use caution look bad if you don’t know that she’s trying to protect her son and the fate of almost all mammals. If you have no reason to give her the benefit of the doubt, she just looks timid.
If Regina weren’t in the room, she might take General Reed into her confidence so they could make better decisions together. But now there’s no way she’s telling her political rival that Yorick is alive or risking that Peggy will share the knowledge with Regina. So instead, she comes off as vaguely incompetent and possibly hiding something.
She could have taken Peggy into her confidence at any time in the last several weeks, since she could use advice from a military strategist while dealing with this situation. Normally a president would have a group of trusted advisors they can discuss even the most sensitive topics with, but Jennifer appears to have lost her people in The Event. Remember, Christine was a new hire who was learning the job.
As Nguyen and her team comb the woods, 355 quietly picks them off. When one fights back harder than the others, another opens fire into the dark- not exactly proceeding with caution. Yorick and Allison run faster and get separated. Yorick trips on a root and drops Amp’s crate, which flies open. The monkey runs to his spot on Yorick’s shoulder. Yorick isn’t wearing his mask. Nguyen finds him and they have a brief stand off at 10 paces in the dark, until more shots are fired. Nguyen turns toward the shots, so Yorick runs in the other direction.
355 and Allison take down Nguyen, then 355 holds her down and signals for Allison and Yorick to be quiet. Reed attempts to raise Nguyen on the radio. 355 breaks it under her foot. In Washington, Jennifer shows her distress when shots are fired and then the radio cuts out. Peggy orders in the extraction team and tells them to be prepared for a briefing on the helipad.
355 asks if Nguyen, who is unconscious, got a good look at Yorick’s face. He doesn’t want to be responsible for her death, so he tells 355 that she didn’t see him. Even after he betrayed her and she risked her life to save his anyway, he still doesn’t trust 355 to do the right thing. To be fair, it was dark, they were at a distance and it was only a couple of seconds- Nguyen got an impression of him, but couldn’t pick him out of a line up of similar looking men without being coached.
355 holds out the knife and tells Yorick to disable Nguyen’s shoes somehow so she can’t follow them- cut the laces, burn the shoes, whatever.This is a form of escape artistry and one of the few things she’s ever asked of him beyond sitting still, so he complies. But the look she gives him is heartbreaking. Once he sees it, I think he realizes that she’s not as tough as she pretends to be. He doesn’t like knowing how deeply he hurt her. He tries to apologize, but she just wants him to take care of the shoelaces.
He asked for a larger role and she’s giving it to him. He didn’t take into account that she’s usually doing the dirty work.
Allison watches from the sidelines. 355’s voice is shaking when she turns and tells her, “I’m not going to tell you how to run your f**kin’ lab. Until we get to San Francisco, this is my show.” Yorick, who is crouched at her feet, tries to interrupt, but she stops him. “I wasn’t talking to you.”
Once the op is over, Regina picks a fight with Jennifer, using rumors Kim told her. She suggests 355 is Jennifer’s agent, acting on Jennifer’s orders to find Hero, and that it will cause a scandal when it comes out that 355 attacked US soldiers. Regina twists Jennifer’s words into ready made right wing extremist talking points, recalls that Jennifer once called her a xenophobe and a bigot and calls Jennifer weak for allowing the protests outside the Pentagon to continue. Regina wants to send riot police out to violently squash the protests. She vows to show the public who Jennifer really is. Jennifer tells Regina she should try being useful instead of starting a blood feud, but she’d be grateful for the voters to see who she really is.
Regina, like Roxanne, has no new ideas of her own. Her whole career was based on sowing hate and violence, whether picking a fight with another politician who accidentally leaves herself open to attack or using media to breed hate in the public. Unfortunately, she has a point. Hate sells and Jennifer has left herself open to attack through her secrecy and inability to understand how to connect with the people.
Roxanne finds Hero sitting outside, smoking and looking at the stars. She sits down and points out a constellation, telling Hero that she and her partner used to share a beer and look at the stars at the end of the work day. Then she asks Hero to stay with the Amazons. She and the rest of the women all like her. Hero laughs a small, bitter laugh.
Roxanne asks what’s funny. Hero says she’s not a good person and tells Roxanne about Mike, the man she killed the night before The Event. She says she didn’t want him to leave his wife for her, but he made her feel chosen, then stupid, then angry. Roxanne is the first person she’s told. “No one knows. It’s like it never happened. You can’t kill somebody and get away with it.”
Roxanne: “Seems like you did. You kick an animal enough times, it’s gonna bite back. It doesn’t mean it’s in their nature. You can be whoever you want here. It’s up to you.”
Roxanne identifies with Hero’s position in the story and understands how someone who’s normally a healer could be driven to violence that accidentally ends in death. Now imagine Hero telling that story to Sam. He’d identify with Mike, as he did when she told him she was with Mike the night before the Event. He’d identify with the victim, just as he identifies with Kate and can’t relate to the women who took care of her as she died and grieve her loss in their own way.
In the old world Hero would have paid a steep price for her temper, while a man in the same situation would have done much less prison time, if any. But that world is gone and Mike would be dead either way. The funeral and rebirth ritual helps the women leave their trauma from the old world behind so they can focus on what they need to do to survive in the new world.
Nora is woken up by Kelsey receiving her punishment for choosing Sam over the Amazons. Athena and a few other women berate her for betraying Roxanne and the group. Nora sneaks over to watch the scene. Athena notices Nora lurking in the shadows just before she punches Kelsey in the face. The other women join in the beating, punching and kicking Kelsey once she’s on the ground. Nora watches for another moment, then goes back to bed.
This episode was directed by Destiny Ekaragha and written by Catya McMullen. Cinematography by Catherine Lutes. Film editing by Melissa Lawson Cheung. Sound editing by Lauren Stephens. Production design by Alexandra Schaller. Costume design by Olga Mill. Music by Herdís Stefánsdóttir.
Does 355 have poison on her knives? Captain Nguyen’s team passed out from small knife wounds, if I’m not mistaken.
Allison never gets specific about why Yorick’s ability to save the world via his sperm could be reduced after a few weeks of abstinence- according to this retrospective review of the literature, semen quality and pregnancy rates improve with more frequent emissions.
It turns out Hero can’t actually be ANYTHING if she wants and stay with the Amazons. That’s true of any group, but the more authoritarian the group, the more rules its member must adhere to. The Amazon enforcers subject Kelsey to harsh punishment for stepping out of line, providing more evidence that they are part of a cult. Roxanne is very careful about who gets to join and stay, in order to ensure that her leadership isn’t threatened and order is maintained. That means members need to buy into the belief system she’s created and challenges need to be squashed quickly and painfully.
In this world, the constant infighting and leadership rivalries that tear a group apart could lead to death for the whole group.
We’ve been watching competition for leadership and control in each location and storyline. Sam and Nora don’t necessarily see themselves as threatening, but that’s what they’re doing by continuously undermining Roxanne. Nora is trying to show Roxanne that she’s not a threat, despite her intelligence, but Roxanne isn’t buying it. She wants Nora to find ways to be useful, without giving her much direction. It’s a bit of a trap. I think seeing the enforcers and Kelsey filled in a missing puzzle piece for Nora- now she’s seen both sides of the motivational coin and can begin to more clearly understand how the Amazons operate.
Nora works in politics, so she expects to put aside her personal opinions in order to do her job or survive. Sam is an artist and would have to compromise himself too much to stay with the Amazons. He’s only there because he won’t leave Hero. But he undermines the group by being a disapproving, uncompromising man in a group of women with low self-esteem. It’s second nature for some to become anxious and seek his approval. For some women, it doesn’t matter what they want or think is right. Any man in the vicinity is like a magnet. The unhappy ones are even more attractive. Women are programmed from birth to keep men happy. The women from the shelter paid dearly when their men felt low and needed to take it out on someone.
That’s part of why Roxanne wants them to stay away from Sam. The other part is that she’s afraid over time they’ll naturally gravitate to him as leader instead of her, simply because he’s a man and she’s a woman. Kelsey proves that she’s right. Sam hasn’t shown any interest in the group or individual women beyond Hero, but Kelsey makes a play for him anyway. Fighting over a man is a surefire way to have the entire group arguing and choosing sides, potentially destabilizing it enough to cause its collapse in the long run. Handing out a severe punishment to Kelsey makes her an example that warns others away from trying the same thing with Sam.
I don’t agree with Roxanne or the Amazons, I’m just explaining them. But it’s true that groups tend to splinter and collapse because of rivalries within the group. Fighting over romantic partners and in vs out groups are common causes of rivalries. Challenges to leadership are another. What amounts to creative differences, or differences in values, methods and goals, would be the third. But it generally comes down to rival factions splintering the group so that effective decisions can’t be made and enacted.
The rivalries within the Pentagon are the most clear, though I’m starting to wonder about the secondary players like General Reed and Christine. What part will they play in deciding who wins ultimate control?
Allison is a loner, but she needs Yorick for her experiments. 355 needs Yorick as her mission/purpose in life, but she can find another geneticist if Allison doesn’t cooperate.
Allison doesn’t understand the danger Yorick is in as the last surviving male. After her speech about biodiversity in episode 5, you’d think she’d understand the dangers of being something rare in this world. Due to collectors, hunters, the media, etc rare species and items are frequently loved and hated into extinction. 355 isn’t overprotecting Yorick. She’s doing a difficult job without the relief of another agent to switch off with and without the trust and cooperation of the people she’s protecting. That leads to mistakes, which could be fatal.
She’s surrounded by Christian imagery this week- positioned in front of the church’s facade, in front of its rose stained glass window with a stylized cross in the center, shown with a candle, shown alone in front of a fire. Her companions betray her because they lose faith in her, then realize their mistake. Allison trains Amp in front of an image which represents the story of Jesus Calming the Storm. When Jesus and his disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee in a boat during a storm, the disciples were afraid of the storm, but Jesus took a nap. The disciples woke him up and complained that he didn’t care what happened to them. Jesus calmed the waters, then chastised them for their lack of faith.
Religion Is Evolving in the Post Event World
There were many images of light breaking through the darkness as people came together in this episode. We were shown that the Amazons are a coherent group with shared experiences and the weekly candlelight ritual is put on by a welcoming community. In episode 5, the resistance unit Yorick met was organized, had a coherent message and had supplies- unlike most people, they weren’t hungry. Yorick and 355 made connections, including with Allison. Even Kim has found a friend. Many people continue to wander and experience severe deprivation, but communities continue to form and strengthen based on shared values.
While we’ve seen evidence that spirituality and religious ritual have survived, we haven’t seen much evidence that women are continuing to practice patriarchal religions as they were practiced before the Event. The post Event art in Boston was devoid of religious imagery and language at a time when you’d think people would turn to religion. We haven’t seen anyone take shelter in a church before this episode, even though they are traditional places of sanctuary and shelter.
But Christian churches also tend to be run by men, with few female authority figures left behind to supervise removal of the bodies who wouldn’t also have more pressing responsibilities elsewhere. Perhaps for most women, their churches no longer provide comfort, only reminders of the men they’ve lost- or the oppression they felt. The church that 355, Yorick and Allison use as their hideout appears to be abandoned. But it hasn’t been looted, so maybe it’s purpose is still respected, even if the members have moved on.
Allison finds the communion wafers and uses them for her own purposes. When Amp accepts the wafers from her it’s the beginning of their collaboration as scientist and subject. Symbolically, it could show that God favors her work and intention to use Amp and Yorick to save mammals, including humans. If she’s successful, Amp will be a savior.
Kim, the woman who is most invested in keeping up appearances, prays in the old way, but she does it alone. Not even Marla can be bothered to pretend she cares about being a good Christian anymore. Kim’s gatherings with other women are social, not religious services.
The Pentagon’s memorial display for those who died in the Event is in the Hall of Heroes, where those who received the Medal of Honor are recognized. It’s not a chapel, though now the women use it for quiet contemplation and emotional connection, much as they would use a chapel in a facility that’s become a village. The two religious rituals we’ve witnessed, the Radiohead memorial and the Amazon’s rite of passage, were also in secular spaces.
Rather than using established religious spaces and rituals, women are drawing from previous traditions to create new ways to honor life events that fit their current circumstances. The Radiohead ritual was a theatrical/performance art piece that brought meaning and healing to the community by blending pieces of the old world with the new. The song lyrics express sadness but also anger and resolve. Candlelight is symbolic of hope, even when it’s part of a ritual for the dead. Candles light the way home, whether on this plane or the next. The Amazons’ ritual has elements of funerals and baptisms, so that the participant dies to her old self and is reborn with a clean slate on the inside to match the new community she’s chosen.
Kim mentions how she’s tried to make sense of the Event by filtering it through her Christian beliefs. She’s considered whether this is a punishment, like Eve with the apple, but now she thinks that the deaths of more than 50% of humanity and mammals were meant to teach something to those who were left behind. While the Biblical God frequently thinks up all kinds of reasons to punish women, including for offenses committed by their men, the only time that I recall a man being punished to teach a woman a lesson was when Eve ate the apple and Adam got thrown out of Eden along with her. Kim appears to taking Christianity back to its roots and reinterpreting the story in a female centric manner.
Which only makes sense- mainstream Christianity has remained patriarchal. Men hold the power in almost every denomination and in every part of the belief system. What does it mean when a male 3-part creator God kills all of the men who were created in his image, leaving behind the second class citizens? Who runs the churches, when the entire leadership is dead? Why continue to believe in an all powerful but oppressive God who couldn’t save his chosen ones? Why not create something new from the ashes that makes more sense in the new world?
Which is what we see happening in the way men are passing into myth and legend as the old gods who no longer have any power over the world, while women take on the roles of hero, leader, advisor, villain, shaman. Kim probably isn’t the only woman who’s started to rethink the Bible, putting female characters in the center rather than males and maybe considering whether some are actually gender neutral. A male God telling women to obey men is an anachronism in the new world. Christianity needs a new agenda.
Kim doesn’t mention what lessen God was trying to teach women by killing all of the men, but she does mention Eve, who was thrown out of Eden and then started having babies. Maybe she thinks God punished her for being too proud of her sons and wants her to raise Christine’s daughter instead. But that’s not the only reason she believes she’s entitled to Christine’s baby. She’s also still carrying some baggage from the old world.
Kim is trying to coerce Christine to hand her baby over because she believes she’d be not just a better mother, but also a Christian mother. This echoes the Christian Adoption Movement, which has a long, global history of taking children from their living biological families, frequently under false pretenses, so that American Christians can save their souls. In its most recent iteration, Evangelical Christians took the children of illegal immigrants detained at the US border by the Obama and Trump administrations.
Though Kim and Regina are the only characters exerting this type of authority right now outside of legitimate government hierarchy, eventually those who trade in exploitation and oppression and who’ve been shut out of power will regroup, the same way the resistance has. They’ll probably bring back some of the old power structures such as patriarchal religion in an attempt to use their authority to gain more power.
A Tale of 3 Men at 2 Rituals
Yorick is gentle, caring and accepts death/change. He adapts quickly and helps others do the same, as we saw when he “charmed” Allison in episode 5. “Pink Floyd” trans man was also friendly, open and accepting. Yorick and the other man are both able to sink into the mood of the Radiohead ritual and accept it for what it is. No one at the Radiohead candlelight vigil lets gender or ego get in the way of relating to the mood and purpose of the gathering. There is no judgement in this space.
The potential for hostility from the organizers and crowd is there in the song lyrics, but Yorick is quickly put at ease. Allison blends in with the crowd and carries on even after she burns her hand. 355 takes a minute to let go of the outside world, but then settles in. Sadly, she’s right that they can’t linger- danger follows them and it’s her job to watch for its arrival. She’s a consummate professional and her dedication takes a toll on her emotional health.
Sam criticizes the Amazons every chance he gets, from their housekeeping to their justice system. They aren’t friendly to him, but they aren’t particularly friendly to Nora, either. Hero is the one they want. Nora recognizes the benefits of remaining with a group who have resources, so she works to gain membership. Sam is stuck on his own plan and refuses to even be polite or grateful to the people who are feeding and housing him.
He also still refuses to listen to Hero’s point of view or to get to know any of the Amazons. When Kelsey approaches him, she has to practically drool all over him to soften him up. He’s dismissive of the Amazon’s ritual and walks out in the middle, so he misses seeing Hero’s growing interest in what the ritual represents. Later, she confesses the way Mike died, her deepest, darkest secret, to Roxanne, not to him. Roxanne is understanding and accepts her anyway, asking her to join the Amazons.
A few hours earlier, Sam judged the women for not taking Kate’s death, potentially a murder, seriously enough. Sam has judged Hero over and over for much smaller infractions. The Amazons have been through violent experiences similar to Hero’s and understand how she got to the point she did with Mike. Sam was cavalier and insulting about her relationship with Mike, referring to her by the misogynist term “homewrecker”, as if she lured a good man into straying from his wife. If he knew the truth about the way Mike died, I don’t think he’d abandon Hero. He’d use the information to demean and control her for the rest of their lives, the way he already uses her affair and addiction.
While Sam has good reason to be wary of the PriceMax women (as do Hero, Nora and Mack), they are also right to be wary of him. The PriceMax women are trying to cope with what the patriarchy did to them while learning to be strong on their own. Sam is invested in the continued need for men and a belief in distinct differences between men and women, which naturally makes him prefer the old world. If women can survive just fine on their own, where does that leave him? Though Roxanne is leading a potentially dangerous cult because she’s potentially a sociopath, she’s also teaching her followers to leave their dependence on men behind and find their inner strength.
“And I think, you know, the female gaze really applies to the scene in Episode 6, where Hero is bathing and there’s all these naked women.” [Showrunner Eliza] Clark revealed that scene, in particular, was an interesting task for the cast and crew to tackle, noting, “And we all talked as a collective about how we wanted to do it, how we wanted to show a diversity of body types, but also, you know, not show it in any way that was titillating but was actually sort of, you know, about the seduction of Hero (Olivia Thirlby) that is not sexual, you know…”
Images courtesy of FX on Hulu.