Review: ‘Scepter’ Brings the First Season of ‘Man Seeking Woman’ to a Fitting Conclusion

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Throughout its inaugural season, Man Seeking Woman has expanded the scope and scale of its unique brand of comedy. After completely switching focus in last week’s episode Teacup, Man Seeking Woman brings the show’s first season full circle in Scepter, which sees the show try its biggest, most ambitious venture into fantasy which entirely pays off. It’s an episode that brings a conclusion to one storyline while keeping the door wide open for all sorts of possibilities.

In the episode’s cold (literally) open, Josh (Jay Baruchel) and Mike (Eric Andre) are making their way through a frozen tundra in search of a lone woman, played by Maya Eshet, who lives there. Having struck out consistently, she is the last possible woman on Earth for Josh. For a brief moment, it seems as if there might be a connection between the two. But when Josh asks her out, she declines because she’d rather remain friends. Just as Josh is coming to terms with his lonely destiny, his ex, Maggie (Maya Erskine), calls. All of a sudden, Josh is revived with a new optimism. He was always destined to be with Maggie. During lunch, Maggie informs Josh that she is engaged to her boyfriend. Upon hearing the news Josh’s heart explodes, his blood splattering all over, gushing on the table. While trying to make sense of the news, Mike and Josh stop at their local convenience store. At the store, Mike purchases what he so eloquently calls “dick pills” while Josh purchases some time travel pills. Josh then travels back and tries to rearrange his past so that he and Maggie never break up, including talking himself out of majoring in philosophy. As we know from all time travel stories, even the slightest change can have dire consequences.

One of my favorite things that Man Seeking Woman does is the way that its characters don’t have any real reactions to the absurdity that surrounds them. It’s all natural. Navigating this unpredictable world, Josh is always more concerned with his own needs than anything else. Even when his excessive time travel leads to a dystopian world dominated by Trackanon, the Earth’s new overlord with his catchy slogan, “I will kill you,” emblazoned on everything, Josh is more concerned on time travel’s effect on his own relationship with Maggie. Which leads to his revelation that in order to be with Maggie, he’d have to be someone he doesn’t really like, someone who golfs and watches Meet the Press.

Within the dystopian world that entirely Josh’s fault, Liz (Britt Lower) has become a John Connor-like freedom fighter while Mike has become one of Trackanon’s many sex slaves. In a rare moment of tenderness, we see Mike genuinely have feelings for another creature, even if it is just a murderous alien dictator. To say these scenes are grotesque and uncomfortable would be an understatement. But everyone has to live in this realm since Josh is out of time travel pills. It took all of this for Josh to get over Maggie, and now everyone just has to move on.

Written by Ian Maxtone-Graham and directed by Jonathan Krisel, Scepter brings Simon Rich’s creation to its full potential to conclude its first season. Man Seeking Woman has been a series trying to find the right balance between its larger weirdness and relatable relationship humor, and for the most part it has succeeded. For its season finale, it expands the scale of the surreal and proves that not every event in this world is just brushed off in the ether. Already renewed for a second season and having established its strange comic vision, Man Seeking Woman has a hard-earned footing with which to move forward. Like it did in its series opener, the season finale of Man Seeking Woman provides smarts, weirds, laughs, and an exciting edge of unpredictability.

Man Seeking Woman is on FXX Wednesdays at 10:30pm and is streaming through the FX Now app.

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