Clumsy editing and plotting undermine “Ready. Aim. Fire” as it attempts to focus on Roxanne and her backstory.
This recap of Y: The Last Man season 1, episode 8, “Ready. Aim. Fire”, contains spoilers.
The eighth episode seems late in the game for an installment that keeps its focus on one location and group of characters. But “Ready. Aim. Fire” takes its deceptively simple premise and needlessly overcomplicates it with a lot of back-and-forth, here-and-there editing and plotting, making its unpacking of Roxanne’s backstory and personal issues and what they mean for Sam and Hero going forwards a bit tedious. There is still plenty that is uncovered here, but a lot of it is pretty predictable, and one imagines there would have been easier ways of putting the point across.
Y: The Last Man season 1, episode 8 recap
Roxanne, you see, has a secret – a secret she’s willing to kill to keep, though she also seems willing to kill in general. It’s no surprise, really, that a woman who forces all her followers to shoot guns at the PriceMax mannequins while regaling them with another anti-man speech has a bit of a dodgy past. Sam can certainly see through the empowerment ruse, and so can Nora, but she’s much more worried about what’ll happen to her and Mackenzie if Roxanne throws them out, which she plans to, than what Roxanne might do if they stay.
“Ready. Aim. Fire” indulges in flashbacks, which is nothing new, but also jumbles them up and is either deliberately or accidentally unclear about the timeline, so there’s some detective work to be done on the part of the audience. The first, for instance, shows Roxanne bursting into a domestic violence shelter with a gun drawn, claiming to be a homicide detective of eleven years, and leading these women back to the PriceMax, where she has set up shop. But the second finds Roxanne trying to burn corpses on the PriceMax parking lot, finding a cop car floating on the lake, and discovering the shelter survivors for the first time. It isn’t hard to piece together that the second takes place before the first, but it’s not clear why they’re in that order. The mystique seems to be for its own sake.
Roxanne’s stories of her supposed police past continue into the present day, but every story she tells in some way relates to men being awful (she apparently caught her male colleagues badmouthing the one other female officer in the breakroom, and the woman, Jenna, apparently accused her of being jealous of the attention.) Roxanne’s tactics are so obvious and disingenuous that it’s a wonder anyone would fall for them, and then you start to realize why she probably chose to recruit domestic violence survivors in the first place – so they’d be more susceptible to her messaging. Sam, though, sees straight through it. He’s disgusted by Roxanne trying to bad-mouth Hero’s “dead” brother and frustrated that Hero can’t see it. There are some interesting details regarding Sam’s perspective as a trans man here. The women at the big box store all hate men. If they can put up with him, they obviously don’t see him as a “real” man. So, he doesn’t want to stay even if he’d be welcome, which at the moment he isn’t anyway. But Hero doesn’t want to leave with him, and, at least at first, he won’t leave without her. But after they have a nasty spat which everyone else eavesdrops on, he packs some supplies and leaves alone that night.
Hero is distraught at this development, but Roxanne is there to comfort her with a speech about men, a bonfire, and a boozy party, all of which Hero admittedly indulges in, throwing some of Sam’s clothes on the fire in a symbolic gesture. But in all the celebrations, Nora spies an opportunity to burn the whole place down. Since Mackenzie doesn’t want to leave with her, and Roxanne has already said that she’s throwing the two of them out, then getting the young one on board with the idea will be much easier if all that remains of the place is ashes.
This isn’t Nora’s only act of disobedience, and between the flashbacks, a more truthful story of Roxanne’s past begins to emerge. After trying and failing to sink the cop car, Roxanne instead went and discharged her gun in the vicinity of the domestic violence shelter to facilitate her bursting in and playing hero. It’s this cop car that Nora notices while stashing some more supplies in her go-bag, and she finds a name tag inside it. It’s this name tag she uses to blackmail Roxanne into allowing not just her and Mackenzie to stay, but to get preferential treatment. This is because, as further flashbacks reveal, Roxanne wasn’t actually a police officer but a PriceMax employee. The nametag is hers, from the store. Some elements of her story about being accused of jealousy over a female co-worker named Jenna are true, but they happened at the PriceMax. Roxanne’s facility with firearms comes from using one to execute people who staggered into the store while she was fixing the place up.
Roxanne’s story has some shades of real-world truth in it, such as her male manager downplaying the harassment of a female employee and equating her taking a Law & Order boxset from the bargain bin with actual sexual assault. But the obviousness of Roxanne’s present-day speechifying is a chore to sit through, and there’s so much of it in “Ready. Aim. Fire” that the whole thing feels tedious. A whole episode to get one point across seems a bit of a waste.