Hello and welcome to the fourth installment of Laughing Place’s regular recap of the science-fiction drama series Y: The Last Man. Episode 4 of the series is entitled “Karen and Benji” and premiered today via FX on Hulu.
“Karen and Benji” begins with a nightclub-style musical performance in what feels like a dream sequence starring Agent 355 as the singer and an unknown man as her dance partner. We cut to the woods at dusk, where Sarah is walking barefoot through the leaves. She comes to the edge of a cliff and almost stumbles over it but stops herself at the last second. After the credits we see Yorrick telling Sarah about Ampersand and asking if she got any sleep. She ignores his question and says they need to ration their food. She says she learned all of this survivalist stuff in Iraq and that Sarah isn’t her real name, though Yorrick keeps pressing her for more information.
Hero and Sam break into a house along their way to the Pentagon to rest. Sam thinks it’s suspicious that there are no bodies in the house, and wonders if the residents are still alive. Hero tells a story about her riding coach Karen and her son Benji. “My mom always wanted me to make friends with the girls at the barn. I had more in common with the horses.” They find a car in a barn and are surprised when it starts, so Sam wants to drive overnight to Washington, D.C. though Hero wants to hold off until the next day. Later in the house, they relax in front of a fire and Sam bemoans the loss of his one-man show while they smoke pot. Hero tells Sam she was with her coworker Mike when the cataclysm happened, though she doesn’t admit to having killed him. She worries that her mom will ask where she was at the time and she’ll know if she’s lying. She doesn’t want to be called selfish and self-destructive, but Sam still wants to go to the Pentagon. Sam falls asleep and Hero sneaks out into the barn.
In the woods, Yorrick watches a video of Beth on his phone while he’s laying in the tent. Agent 355 comes back from a run and tells Y to take his clothes off so she can wash them in the river. He initially refuses because “it’s cold out here” but gives in, stripping down to his underwear and handing over everything else. “Change into something clean,” Sarah says, handing him a backpack. At the barn, Hero overhears Sam trying to start the car to no avail. Later on the stop at an abandoned drug store, which has been almost entirely cleaned out. Suddenly a ball bounces out of the back area toward them and they follow its path to the source: Nora’s daughter, who is sleeping on one of the empty shelves. When Hero tries to examine her wound, Nora runs up from behind and almost attacks her. Hero says she’s an EMT and can help, so after Nora calms down they take the bandage off and wash off the cut with alcohol. Hero offers to take Nora and her daughter back to the house to rest, though Sam looks disappointed they’re not continuing on their way.
Sarah hunts a rabbit in the woods but it’s scared off by a loud noise. She finds two women going through their tent and when she interrupts they ask if she has any food, then inquiring about the monkey. Yorrick hides behind the trees and then runs out with a big stick when the women refuse to go away. Y reveals he knows that 355 killed the two pilots before putting Ampersand back in his cage while they argue about ground rules. Later in a makeshift market, Sarah offers to trade the generator or hand grenade motorcycle for a woman who tells her about the ladies who are keeping things in order. Yorrick spots someone who he thinks might be Beth and takes off after her until he gets to a creepy underground area where he is cornered by police who demand he takes his gas mask off. Upon discovering that he’s male, Yorrick claims to be trans and looking for testosterone, but Sarah shows up and beats up the women before they can question him further. A firefight breaks out as they jump on the motorcycle and take off, stopping at a bridge. Y says they have to go back because his phone fell out of his pocket, but 355 just tells him to grow up. They argue on the bridge about Yorrick’s privilege, but Y is upset that Sarah “goes Rambo” anytime something goes wrong. Yorrick is devastated by the loss of Beth’s videos on his phone, but they drive off on the motorcycle anyway.
In the house, Nora finds a cat toy under one of the beds and her daughter happily takes it to keep her company. Hero goes through a bag of medication in the living room and Nora comes down to tell her and Sam that the building used to be a women’s shelter. Hero tells Nora that her daughter needs antibiotics, but that all the pharmacies have been cleared out. “Your best bet are the camps.” Nora laughs. “The camps are for people with nowhere to go.” Nora breaks down and says her cousin is a doctor and they went to her house but she was gone and the house had been looted. Hero lies to Nora that she and Sam’s names are Karen and Benji, and Sam angrily goes to bed because of the deception. Hero goes to Sam’s room and says they should be happy because they have a roof over their heads and water. “We could be really good here. We could start over.” Sam is resistant to the idea, but Hero makes a pass at him and they begin to kiss until Sam gets upset again and sits up. Hero apologizes and starts to leave but Sam stops her. “What happened to the car?” he asks when she lies back down.
Outside, Nora cries to herself and then hears howling in the distance. Three riders approach on horseback with guns, and Nora runs back to the house. Hero and Sam start going downstairs when they hear the commotion, and they’re stopped by a woman with a shotgun in the stairwell. They put our protagonists in the barn and threaten to kill them until Nora convinces them that Hero is a doctor and can help them. They take Hero to a woman who is injured with a bullet wound from five hours earlier. Hero unwraps the wound and has Sam act as her assistant, though the women don’t want Sam helping because they’re a bit transphobic. “This is why we shouldn’t have stayed,” Sam says, but Hero continues with the impromptu surgery.
In the woods, Agent 355 tends to the motorcycle while Yorrick sulks to himself. Sarah throws Y a deck of cards and tells him to do a trick, but he refuses, saying it’s beneath his skill level. He gives in and does a trick for Sarah, which genuinely seems to impress her. “When we’re done with the scientist, I’ll help you find your girlfriend,” 355 says. They bond over their mutual distaste for the wilderness and Sarah says they’ll get to Boston the next day. Hero finishes the surgery and another woman named Roxanne enters the building. She whispers to one of her companions and tells everyone to move out of the way before she shoots the woman on the operating table. Roxanne asks what Nora’s daughter needs, and Nora says “antibiotics.” She offers to let the newcomers stay at the house, to the protest of the others in the group. “It’s the least we can do until she recovers.” They bring Mackenzie inside, and Nora tells Hero not to tell them who her mother is. When Hero looks surprised, Nora says, “I worked at the White House, ‘Karen.’” They turn the corner to find that the women have taken over a big-box store like Costco.
New episodes of Y: The Last Man are released on Mondays via FX on Hulu.
Mike serves as Laughing Place’s lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly “Who’s the Bossk?” Star Wars podcast. He’s been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general all his life and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.