Last Man Standing
“Welcome Baxter” (Episode 701)
September 28, 2018
The Baxter family is back!!!! I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of season 7 of Last Man Standing since it’s return to television was announced earlier this year. Last Man Standing was a show I caught every week without fail and I was utterly heartbroken when ABC cancelled it after its 6th season.
I may have been in the sea of the angry mob crying their outrage to ABC. Tim Allen and the cast bring laughs through a conservative view and the juxtaposition of their democratic neighbors and business partners. Every week this show pokes fun at politics and hot topic issues without making one side or the other the unfair butt of the joke.
There isn’t a lot of shows that can create comedy out of today’s issues without things turning ugly towards one side. I believe that is in part why Last Man Standing did so well on the air and will continue to do so on its new network. The announcement that Fox picked up Last Man Standing for a 7th season after the show had been off the air for a year was a joyous surprise to many. Not only did the show return after being cancelled over a year ago but it also switched networks, a feat that is not easily reproduced.
This year, long time fans of the show will notice a few differences. Since the show ended some of the actors have moved on to other projects and were no longer available to shoot Season 7. The character, Mandy, has been replaced with Molly McCook since Molly Ephraim is unable to return. The role of Boyd Baxter has also been recast, although this actor change most likely won’t be as noticeable.
The first 5 minutes of the season premiere is chalk full of every jab you could make at a network for cutting your favorite show. We start the episode with Kyle (Christopher Sanders) trying to find his favorite show on TV. Vanessa (Nancy Travis) is quick to chime in about networks cancelling shows while Kyle rebuttals that it doesn’t make sense to cancel a show that everybody loves. Don’t worry Kyle, we feel your pain. In walks Mike (Tim Allen) to add his 2 cents and hilarity ensues. After Mike suggests Kyle to look for the show on another network, Kyle is pleasantly surprised to find it. They also include a small nod to the fans for creating enough noise to get Last Man Standing back on the air.
Mike: “Am I wrong or is it, like, way better on this network?”
Vanessa: “Way better. Way better. I’ll be damned. I’ve never heard of this happening before.”
Mike “Well, it’s pretty rare. Show must have a lot of loyal, kick-ass fans, huh?”
The new Mandy (Molly McCook) is introduced as the family gathers in the living room getting ready to welcome Eve (Kaitlyn Dever) home from school. Kyle informs Mike that Mandy changed something about herself, but he can’t figure out what. In walks a taller, very blond Mandy, to which Mike explains that she looks exactly the same. Soon after, Kristen (Amanda Fuller) and Eve walk through the doorway. Eve is dressed in a military uniform meaning she decided to pursue her military career. We later find out that she is attending the Air Force Academy. This will also play out well throughout the season since Kaitlyn Dever will only be making guest appearances.
At Outdoor Man, Chuck (Jonathan Adams) and Ed (Hector Elizondo) greet Eve when Mike brings her into the office. It’s at the office that Kristen catches Eve up on the drama with her husband, Ryan (Jordan Masterson). According to Kristen and Mike, Ryan hasn’t been handling the current political climate very well. He watches the news and mopes around the house. Mike advises Kristen that he wants to pick up Boyd (Jet Jurgensmeyer) to help him work on their birdhouse and maybe poke a little fun at Ryan.
When Mike arrives at Ryan and Kristen’s house, we quickly learn that the ‘birdhouse’ is in fact a dirt bike that they have secretly been working on. Ryan looks completely disheveled and has even made Boyd fried chicken for dinner. It’s an interesting development since Ryan only lets meat be cooked in his home during the holidays.
Ryan and Mike start their political banter that we are used to, however this time Ryan has a defeatist attitude. Ryan feels that the US has gone to hell and there is no redeeming it, while Mike points out that not everyone loved the previous President. Mike then challenges Ryan to take action instead of just sitting on the couch complaining.
The next morning Ryan arrives at the Baxter house in a good mood and bearing gifts; a basket of his homemade Elderberry jam. Ryan then breaks the news that he is taking control of his family’s lives by moving them to Canada. Mike isn’t worried that Ryan will actually move the family to Canada since people are always saying they are moving to Canada but never do. Vanessa then brings up the point that Ryan is indeed Canadian.
In the living room Eve and Mandy have a conversation about social politics. It seems that Mandy has become politically aware. Mandy advises Eve that she can’t help but be more politically aware since it has seeped into all her social media accounts. Eve and Mandy start arguing while Kyle advises he just wants to be in the middle. Eve and Mandy both yell at him that there is no longer a middle. Its at this moment that Vanessa and Mike burst into the room. A political cease fire is called, and it’s decided that as long as Eve is home visiting, there will be no talks about politics.
Later that evening Mike returns home from work and tries to get his family to communicate with each other. Eve and Mandy don’t want to talk to one another and Vanessa is still mad at Mike for meddling with Ryan since he wants to move his family to Canada now. Any attempts at a normal conversation fall flat until Kristen and Ryan run into the house.
Boyd is missing. He was supposed to be home hours ago, but he hasn’t been seen at all. The family joins forces to search for Boyd at all his favorite locations. After everyone leaves the house, Mike gets on the phone to Chuck at Outdoor Man. Chuck confirms that Boyd is in the loading dock working on the dirt bike.
When Mike gets to Outdoor Man he confronts Boyd about taking off and not telling anyone. Boyd explains that he didn’t want to move to Canada and he is tired of the fighting. Mike then points out to Boyd that they found the bike at a garage sale and that nobody wanted it because it was broken. They decided to buy the bike because it had a lot of working parts and they were both willing to put in the work to fix it.
Mike: “Look we found something worth saving. And we were both willing to do the work together to fix it. If you have that, you can put anything back together again.”
Mike takes Boyd back to the house to talk with the family. Mike reminds the family that even though they disagree on many things, they are a family and need to treat each other with dignity and respect. When they forgot about their differences they were able to come together and search for Boyd. In typical Last Man Standing fashion, the family makes up with each other and decides to put their differences aside.
Ryan is still adamant that he wants to make a change for his family. That is when Mike hands him a stack of papers and advises Ryan to apply for U.S. citizenship. He informs Ryan that he can make a difference and have a say by being involved in the political discussion in the country he lives in. It is during this moment that Kyle has an epiphany and realizes that Mandy is taller and blonder.
The episode ends with Mike’s Outdoor Man Vlog. He advises us that we need to start by talking. If no one is talking, then no one is listening and if no one is listening, then no one is learning. Not communicating seems to be the weapon of choice, evidenced by people un-friending and un-following on social media instead of trying to understand. Instead of hunkering down in separate corners, we need to talk with each other and understand where others are coming from.
The season premiere did nothing but delight me. It is great to see the Baxters back on my television and I love the comedic relief around today’s hot button issues. The character change with Mandy will take a little getting to used to but I feel with time it won’t feel as awkward. I can’t wait to see what story lines will pop up this season and what headliner topics they will include on the show. It’s going to be a great ride.