SPOILER ALERT: The following article contains spoilers for the season finale of Y: The Last Man.
Season one of Y: The Last Man has come to a close, and the Brown family is not doing well. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about their challenges in surviving a post-apocalyptic world, but that has been difficult as well. I’m talking about the Browns as a family unit—they clearly have some issues to work through. The world is falling apart around them, but Jennifer, Hero, and Yorick each are out of sync, and the results have been disastrous. It would be easy to blame this problem on the “end of the world,” but that’s a convenient scapegoat that ignores their dysfunctional history.
The season finale contains a few flashbacks to an awkward Brown family dinner which occurred before the world fell apart. The Browns are putting on their best Stepford smiles, but Hero has no desire to fake familial harmony. She watches her brother and parents play up good news regarding developments in their lives, while dancing around serious problems. Hero cuts through the façade, and candidly tells her family that she’s unapologetically dating a married man. She invites her father to admit his affair as well, but the family doesn’t appreciate her shining a light on their imperfections.
There’s a reason why this dinner was shown in the season finale—it was the true turning point for the Brown family. While Hero’s emotional burst of honesty was uncomfortable, Jennifer, Yorick and Dean could have taken the opportunity to have an honest discussion about the state of the family. Instead, Jennifer tried to downplay Hero’s affair, Dean denied his own infidelity, and Yorick refused to back his sister up. When Hero pressed in, Jennifer abruptly ended the dinner. The Brown family chose to keep on living in denial, which meant perpetually running from problems.
This situation was unsustainable for Hero, and it gives new light to her decisions in the early episodes. Remember, Hero did everything she could to avoid seeing her mother after the virus wiped out all of the cisgender men. She was even willing to spend her time with a dangerous cult led by a madwoman because it was one more day where she didn’t have to go to her mother. Think about that for a minute—the world had ended and Hero’s mother was the President of the United States, and she still didn’t want to see her. Hero would rather take her chances in free-for-all wastelands than seek security from the woman who raised her.
In a way, this means Hero has more in common with her family than she cares to admit. She scoffed at them for running from their problems during that dinner, but since the virus has hit, Hero herself hasn’t stopped running. Even her reunion with Yorick wasn’t enough to shake this instinct. Before the season finale, Hero believed that Yorick had died along with everyone else with a y chromosome and seeing him alive felt like a miracle. Despite this, she was willing to separate from him and return to the Amazons. Remember, this is a world where mass communication has been destroyed, so Hero has no way to contact her brother and there’s a good chance she’ll never see him again.
To be fair, it was a delicate situation that had to be dealt with quickly. The Amazons were closing in on her brother and Hero wanted to keep him safe. There wasn’t a lot of time to strategize and come up with a plan to reunite later. Still, Hero had her miracle reunion with her brother, and it was a moment that wasn’t destined to last. The Browns don’t stick together, even if it’s the end of the world.
As if things weren’t tragic enough, Hero and Yorick both believe the false rumor that their mother Jennifer Brown has been assassinated. Both of them are grieving their mother, and they can’t even do it together as siblings. Instead, Hero must hold her emotions in, since she doesn’t want the other Amazons to know she’s the President’s daughter. While Yorick was able to grieve, Agent 355 and Dr. Mann don’t have the warmest bedside manner. (That’s putting it mildly, to say the least.)
Little do they know that their mother is alive, but she’s currently got a lot on her plate. Now that the Pentagon has fallen, the last remnants of the United States government appeared to have slipped away and it happened under Jennifer’s watch. While it wasn’t President Brown’s fault, the collapse of an entire country is a lot to have on your shoulders, and it’s hard not to feel like you failed the nation. But her failure as a parent has also been weighing on her, and it shows.
When Beth confessed the challenges her relationship with Yorick faced, Jennifer was visibly shaken. She realized that her son hadn’t been honest with her about his own life, despite the fact that, much like with Hero, Yorick may never see his mother again. Speaking of her other child, Jennifer is also struggling with the knowledge that Hero doesn’t want to be found. Don’t get me wrong, I think President Brown is a good leader who did everything she could to keep the government going. But being a good President and being a good parent are two different things.
The Browns have ended the season scattered throughout the country. Jennifer is being held somewhere and has no clue where her kids are, and they believe her to be dead. Yorick is traveling with questionable companions, while Hero is hiding out with a dangerous band of Amazons. Things aren’t going well, and I wonder if they would have been able to conquer the apocalypse if they had stuck together. What if Hero had gone to her mother from the start? What if Jennifer hadn’t sent Yorick away?
It all goes back to that disastrous dinner, where the family chose flight over fight. Now they need to survive a deadly world, while contending with their own fractured relationships. In the end, it’s clear that Y: The Last Man is about more than fixing a broken world, it’s about fixing a broken family.
Y: The Last Man's debut season is now streaming on FX on Hulu. Dive deeper into the show and comic by visiting our Y: The Last Man series page.
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.