"Last Man Standing"
Writer: Grant Scharbo and Gina Matthews
Director: David Barrett
Air Date: 10/15/03
"Last Man Standing" is a fan favourite for a variety of reasons, starting off with the major boost to the Jake/Diane subplot and the show's handling of the Sarah/Jake/Diane triangle. While in previous episodes, Jake has seemed oblivious to Diane's crush in much the same way Sarah has been oblivious to Jake's crush, both characters have their eyes opened during the course of the episode. Ironically, just as Sarah begins to look at Jake differently, beginning to believe that he is the guy who has always been there for her, Jake realises that Diane is that person in his life. And while the Jake fans met in the pilot would have sprinted cross-town at top speed just to accidentally bump into Sarah, it comes as a major (and pleasant) upset when he actually chooses to dance with Diane over Sarah. The triangle is handled in a mature, believable fashion that manages to treat all three characters fairly, and is refreshingly free of the adolescent angst that marks similar triangles on programmes such as Smallville and The O.C., showing the writing staff's adaptability. Rather than cling strictly to their original premise of Sarah as sole love interest, the producers take advantage of the chemistry between Gorham and Tracy and give the fans almost a love letter.
The episode is chock full of excellent character development, as we get to see more of Jake as a person, and how his new life is affecting all of his relationships. Also delightful is Matt Hill as Jake's best friend Kevin Parks, who obviously has tremendous affection for Jake, and whose teasing never has a malicious edge. It really helps flesh out Jake's character, seeing him interacting with people from his past. And Kevin is charming, managing to avoid the entertaining yet potentially grating qualities of Darin in the series pilot. In addition to getting to know Jake's friends, Diane gains a co-worker and ally in Battlestar Galactica's Grace Park as Fran. The episode very much highlights where Diane's loyalties lie, and demonstrates that without a doubt, she will put Jake first, ahead of her career at the NSA. It also sets up an excellent conflict between Diane and Lou regarding Diane's devotion to Jake, which may come into play in later episodes. Sarah comes off as slightly less sympathetic, particularly after it's revealed that rather than attend Kevin and Jenny's wedding with Jake, she drafts a gay friend to pose as her date. It's shallow, but wholly believable, and believably sets the stage for what's to come in, in terms of Sarah and Jake's relationship, the next two episodes. Dark Angel's Martin Cummings is the prefect creepy assassin, and the script plays up the hokey spy-cliché elements perfectly, using classic misdirection and sleight of hand to fool the audience into missing the true threat until the final reveal. The dramatic tension in the episode is perfect, helping to make "Last Man Standing" easily one of the strongest of the Jake adventures.
Quotes of the Week:
Jake: "It's a wedding."
Lou: "You're still at risk."
Jake: "From what, drunken bridesmaids? Lou, I woke up this morning with guns in my face. What's next, sidearm chaperones on dates? Permission to go potty?"
Kevin: "Whoa! Can't believe you're still wearing the same old ratty jacket."
Jake: "Yeah, yeah. I can't believe you're still losing your hair."
Kevin: "Uh-huh. You still haven't told her how you feel."
Jake: "It's all about timing."
Kevin: "Right, yeah, years and years of timing. Come on, buddy, step off the ledge. I mean, look, it happened with Jenny."
Jake: "You stalked her."
Kevin: Whatever. She said yes."
Sarah: "Mani-pedi's one of life's greatest pleasures."
Diane: "I'm a virgin. Well, I'm a mani-pedi virgin. It's my first time."
Sarah: "So, uh, I guess I'm, I'm dateless."
Sarah: "I think we're supposed to dance now."
Jake (looking at Diane): "Yeah. Sarah, I think I need to dance with my date."
© Tara O'Shea 2003