“The Last Man” pays homage to Highlander in a weird musical tale of brotherly love that doesn’t quite land.
This recap of Room 104 season 4, episode 9, “The Last Man”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
“The Last Man” is many things, some of them obvious, some of them less so. First and foremost it’s a homage to and a pastiche of Highlander and other dated fantasy movies about big, burly men in leather and fur; about sword fights and destiny. It’s also a musical. And it’s also a story about brothers so consumed by conflict and rivalry that they have forgotten they’re brothers at all — though this doesn’t become apparent until the end.
Some of this stuff works; some of it doesn’t. The entire tonal mish-mash ultimately doesn’t do much for the episode’s sweet conclusion, in which two brothers who had long-since drifted apart manage to find each other again. The camp musical theatre vibe is good for a laugh or two, and the plentiful songs are entertaining and do a lot of narrative heavy lifting, but some emotional power is sapped in this milieu of styles and tones. Room 104 always seems to be better when it’s pared down a little.
The brothers are Kyran (Kevin McKidd) and Durkon (Desean Terry). Both are trapped in a fluctuating history; they fight in a bare wasteland as a pterodactyl zooms overhead, but never to any conclusion. They’ve been doing this, apparently, for thousands of years. They might keep doing it forever.
Kyran was trained by Granada (Suzanne Nichols), a sagely elder who leads him through a training montage in “The Last Man” until he is eventually ready to teleport to the familiar confines of Room 104, 132,478 years later, where he warns cable TV that the internet is going to kill it, and sings another song using random items through the ages as props — the gag here is that he has largely misinterpreted their use, so focused is he on his quest to be the titular last man.
Eventually, Durkon arrives and finds him drunk; Kyran’s age-old rival nicely helps him sober up and gives him time to prepare for the final battle that both have dreamed of taking place in this very room. They argue about all the time they’ve wasted trying to destroy each other, as brothers might; they fight and sing their goodbyes as both impale each other. That’s when the angelic form of Granada arrives, both of whom they know; both of whom they refer to as mother. That’s when they realize they’re brothers. They’ve been fighting so long they forgot.
The metaphorical act of reconciliation in “The Last Man” is Kyran and Durkon twisting their swords so the hilts match up perfectly; a complete picture. As the episode ends, its point made, we see them as little kids, fighting with wooden swords in the same room, as Granada warmly watches on. It’s a sweet ending slightly lost in the episode’s excess.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.