Last Man Standing wrapped up its nine-season run with a two-part collection finale that sees the Baxters’ inexperienced truck as a literal car to rejoice almost a decade of household, love and Outdoor Man.
Written by Ed Yeager, “Baxter Boot Camp” begins off with newly-minted “true Baxter” Jen (Krista Marie Yu) getting ready for a tenting journey together with her buddies visiting from Hong Kong. Concerned for her security, Vanessa (Nancy Travis) provides to assist Jen put together for unpredictable eventualities by teaming up with Mandy (Molly McCook) for a difficult yard bootcamp.
Meanwhile at Outdoor Man, Mike (Tim Allen) sees Kristin (Amanda Fuller) diving deep into work, which cuts into her household time. In the workplace subsequent door, Kyle (Christoph Sanders) tells Ed (Hector Elizondo) that he seeks to shift to part-time duties as he takes on extra responsibilites as a minister. But to ensure that Ed to approve his proposed schedule, Kyle should create a plan to assist his boss get into heaven. With the assistance of Ryan (Jordan Masterson) and comics, Kyle decides that Ed deserves greater than a easy reply about religion and is prepared to carry a dialog in regards to the afterlife along with his boss, however as a pastor.
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When Mike catches Kristin staying late at work once more, he tells his daughter that it’s as much as her to attract work-life boundaries. After listening to him out, Kristin tells her dad that she’s not anxious about forgetting her household.
“You taught us how important family is,” she says.
The last episode “Keep Truckin’,” written by Allen, picks up proper from the earlier installment. While the children and Jen take pleasure in sizzling cocoa, Mike tells Vanessa that the unique house owners of their beloved inexperienced truck offered the car to Joe (Jay Leno). However, shortly after the truck’s again in Mike’s possession a thief drives away with it.
“I’ve had that truck for 10 years, that’s longer than I’ve done improvement on this home,” Mike tells Vanessa after the truck disappears.
The Baxter clan bands collectively to seek out the lacking car, reminiscing on their reminiscences with the household staple. But when it appears the truck’s gone endlessly, Mike says he’s nice with letting it go, a lot to Vanessa’s shock. Friends and household come collectively within the Baxter dwelling for a “truck memorial.” Making a cameo from the Air Force Academy by way of FaceTime is Eve (Kaitlyn Dever), who shares that engaged on the truck “were some of the best times of my life.”
At this level, the metaphor of beloved truck isn’t all that elusive. But simply in case it wasn’t apparent sufficient for viewers, Mike hits the symbolism on the top along with his last Outdoor Man vlog. In his final webcast, which streams subsequent to a slideshow of Baxter household images, Mike thanks his viewers for tuning it and informs them of his latest loss.
“I loved every moment of that show — I mean truck. It was a classic from a simpler, happier time, the truck. That’s something that can’t be stolen from me,” he says.
Last Man Standing showrunner Kevin Abbott spoke to Deadline about leaving “nothing unspoken” with the pandemic-era finale, the “temporary housing” of community TV and extra. Read the total interview, which has been edited for size and readability, beneath.
DEADLINE: What was it like bringing Last Man Standing to a real finale after it prematurely ended on ABC?
KEVIN ABBOTT: It’s humorous you carry that up, as a result of I used to be working the present when it bought cancelled on ABC, and we didn’t count on to get cancelled that yr. The solely yr we bought cancelled was the yr we didn’t assume we have been on the bubble.
When we got here again, we bought the reward of being advised it was the ultimate season. It was a present, it was actually an incredible factor that they did for us, as a result of it allowed us to plan, and to understand, and to essentially be pleased about what we had. I needed to guarantee that we did it proper in our minds, and most significantly, Tim’s thoughts, as a result of he’s the one most invested in it. He’s given quite a bit, over time, to the present, and it was essential to be rewarding him for that, to offer him the respect that he deserves.
We sat all the way down to assume, what do we wish out of this last episode? We rapidly got here to the conclusion, we didn’t need it to be a tragic episode. Ideally, the collection finale is the embodiment of what the present was, with the added message of claiming, hopefully, “thank you.”
DEADLINE: What different finale concepts have been in rivalry earlier than arriving on the truck-centric storyline?
ABBOTT: We had an episode with B story the place Kyle and Ed had talked about leaving for the priesthood. That was initially a a lot bigger story, the place Kyle left for the priesthood, and Ed went with him. We had individuals saying goodbye to them, in lieu of claiming goodbye to the present, and you realize, it simply felt very maudlin. It simply felt…there was no method that we have been going to have the ability to preserve the solid from not feeling the feelings they have been feeling by saying goodbye to these individuals.
We additionally had an entire episode the place Kristin took over Outdoor Man, once more it grew to become a B story, however the bigger story was going to be that Kristin goes to take over, and Ed decides he’s going to depart, however that he has to seek out, for Kristin, her Ed. The man that advised Mike the laborious truths. The man that supported him in his different concepts. Kristin wanted that particular person. That was going to be Mandy.
Matt Berry really, pitched the concept of the truck, which has been within the present all the collection. I believed that’s an incredible concept. It permits us to write down an episode that may’ve been simply another episode, through the season. It simply would have been centered on theft and this theme was coming to grips with loss. Being okay with it, being grateful for what you had, not offended, bitter, or pissed off at it not being there anymore. That’s the message we needed to ship out.
So, he pitched that. We went via a few variations. We really tracked down a automotive, a truck like Tim’s, that we have been going to wreck as a result of you realize, we thought it will make a very good ending, to visually see this, to uncover it like we have been at an post-mortem, with an enormous sheet over the truck, and you then uncover it, and see it however she’s ruined.
It form of went away from the place we wound up going, which was this isn’t simply Tim’s loss. It’s not Mike’s loss. It’s all people’s loss, and we have to give them a chance to cope with it.
DEADLINE: Tim Allen beforehand stated he emotionally prefers the “sudden death” of a cancellation versus the drawn out planning of a collection finale. Do you’re feeling the identical method after having been a part of the LMS group for therefore lengthy?
ABBOTT: I’ve misplaced two brothers. One to sudden dying, and one to an prolonged sickness, and whereas it’s not the identical, that is work, and our lives go on. I don’t choose a sudden dying.
To use the shedding a liked one as a metaphor, I choose to the chance to say goodbye, and to really feel such as you left nothing unsaid. Nothing unstated. No free ends. It’s all going to finish badly for us ultimately. We all die on the finish of the e-book. So, I would favor to exit of that story feeling like all of the free ends have been tied up, versus messy, and possibly leaving relations with out a capability to understand with the loss.
I very a lot appreciated understanding firstly of the season that it was going to be the ultimate season.
DEADLINE: What did it imply to you to craft a picture of pleasure and household amid the continuing coronavirus disaster?
ABBOTT: That was one thing that we felt very strongly about, we didn’t wish to finish on a down observe. We’re there to assist them via powerful instances. It’s really easy to get caught up in the entire emotions of loss, in that second, and we felt like that may be a betrayal to what the present really was.
We felt like we needed to cope with points, and a few weightier points, and we needed to cope with them with emotion, however we might save that emotion for a scene, and a second, the place it will have probably the most impression. We didn’t wish to wallow in something like that.
The truck gave us the chance to do this. To inform a joke, however then, to even have the memorial scene, the place you could possibly be emotional and actual. That was essential as a result of it meant that the actors weren’t being requested to play that “oh, we’re really sad throughout the entire thing.”
It allowed us to have enjoyable, after which hit the second of the emotion, after which get again to the place the place I needed, and I felt Tim needed to finish the present. An angle of gratitude. We fiddled round with gratitude as the top level.
Loss is one thing that’s going to be there. You’re going to should cope with it all through your life. We would love individuals to have a chance to snort throughout it, and to have a bit pleasure, and to, after they’re not experiencing loss, respect the nice moments.
DEADLINE: How did the shortage of a reside studio viewers for this final chapter affect its last moments?
ABBOTT: It was powerful. This yr was powerful, as a result of it’s your final season, and we don’t have exhibits. The actors don’t get curtain calls. It’s all totally different, and a variety of the issues that have been marvelous in regards to the manufacturing of the present – desk reads, and present nights, and the enjoyment that all of us had on present nights – these have been all gone. What we needed to do for the ultimate episode is herald “an audience.” We had 45 individuals. They have been manufacturing individuals, or buddies of manufacturing individuals, that have been in particular person, plastic-lined cubicles, up within the viewers, six toes aside. They weren’t allowed to return down on stage, or transfer out of them. They needed to keep up in there, of their little enclosed areas. We usually have 175 individuals only for level of reference, however it was one thing.
We needed to offer the solid no less than the chance for one last curtain name, relatively than simply capturing a last scene, after which, all people says, “that’s a wrap,” and also you’re gone. We don’t get a wrap get together, clearly, and we needed to be hustled off the stage, as a result of they have been capturing a pilot, and we couldn’t say goodbye to anyone after the present was performed.
DEADLINE: What was the ultimate scene to shoot?
ABBOTT: The vlog was the final one. When Tim stated the phrases “Baxter out,” he stopped. Very emotional, and the solid joined him in Mike’s workplace to say goodbye to all people. To one another. To hug, and to consolation one another, after which, we did the curtain name. It’s all very transferring stuff. I want I might have included it.
I personally didn’t get an opportunity to say goodbye, within the second, to individuals, as a result of we couldn’t. That was really tougher than the cancellation, as a result of the primary cancellation with ABC, we did say goodbye for the hiatus. We had that chance to have a wrap get together, and every little thing. This simply felt prefer it stopped in that second. We bought a style of it, no less than.
DEADLINE: How did Mike’s last Outdoor Man vlog come collectively?
ABBOTT: Kevin Hench wrote the overwhelming majority of vlogs all through the course of the collection, and what would sometimes occur is, I’d give him the theme to the episode, and he would craft a vlog, and he and Tim would work on it collectively till they shot it Monday, or Tuesday.
With this one, the mandate was we have been going to have a patio scene, the place Vanessa and Mike would have a second collectively, and that couple would have an opportunity to say goodbye, in essence, to the viewers. We needed Ed to have an opportunity to have his second, which was Hector coming in, after which, Mike was the one character that, within the episode, that didn’t have an opportunity to say goodbye to the present, to the truck. We did that intentionally.
We have been saving him. He was saving his emotion till the ultimate second. So, the mandate was that is Mike/Tim’s goodbye. The message to the viewers was a message of appreciation, but additionally positivity. It generally is a observe of heartfelt emotion, however it needed to emphasize the optimistic feelings which can be additionally out there in loss. So, Hench didn’t embody issues just like the truck. Tim felt these moments.
Tim’s instincts are phenomenal. We belief them. so, they labored collectively on that. Hench had chosen to emphasise, and needed to emphasise the notion of shaking oneself off, after one thing that has knocked you down, and transferring ahead, and retaining that spirit of dedication.
DEADLINE: Where do you assume the Baxters will find yourself within the subsequent 5 to 10 years?
ABBOTT: I see Kristin and Mandy working Outdoor Person, ten years down the road. I believe there’s most likely an enormous combat between Mike Baxter and his daughters, about whether or not “Outdoor Man” is suitable anymore. I believe that Eve has stayed within the Air Force. I believe she’s a embellished pilot. I believe Kyle has moved into the priesthood, as a minister, and is doing splendidly, and is spreading messages of pleasure, and hope, and resilience.
I believe Mike, and Chuck, and Joe are nonetheless working their automotive restoration enterprise, they usually’re very glad about it. I believe in between-times, Mike goes again on all these fantastic journeys he took for Outdoor Man within the catalog, however this time he brings Vanessa with him they usually hit all of the highlights.
DEADLINE: What occurs with “true Baxter,” Jen? Do you see her returning to Hong Kong, or does she stick with the Baxters?
ABBOTT: Yeah. Absolutely. COVID interrupted and altered a variety of plans we laid. François Chau, who performed her father, Henry, on the collection, we have been in a position to sneak him in that one time, however we might have liked to have had him in for the finale.
I imply, similar with Susan Sullivan. That’s a tricky yr to not be capable to herald Ed’s spouse, Bonnie, as a result of we had a lot deliberate for them. We have been unable to do this due to COVID protocols, which was coronary heart wrenching.
When Kaitlyn left the present, Jen was introduced on, in some ways, to carry the affect that Eve dropped at Mike. You know, the one who would spout off to him. Krista Marie made Jen her personal. She’s not a mini Eve. She is her personal character, and we simply liked what she introduced.
When it got here to portraying the Hong Kong protests, we did what we might. I see Jen going again, and taking what she believes she discovered from Mike Baxter, again to Hong Kong, as a result of I consider her coronary heart is in Hong Kong.
DEADLINE: What have been the challenges, or the rewards, of diving into well timed topics like weed legalization, the Hong Kong protests and racism, via the sitcom?
ABBOTT: We wish to, not essentially opine on social points, however say that these social points have an effect on our characters, as a result of our characters can be affected by them. That’s the way in which we inform tales. We talked in regards to the social justice motion, Black Lives Matter, via Chuck being arrested, when he was doing the identical factor that Mike and Joe have been. That’s how we choose to touch upon these items.
That’s how we selected to inform tales, and in the end, and I don’t wish to be on a cleaning soap field, we wish to have enjoyable. We wish to have a enjoyable story hooked up to it, the place we will get actual, and emotional about it, in a single scene, and in a single second, we may be actually impactful, after which, transfer on and have extra enjoyable.
Hollywood clearly is stereotypically left leaning. My author’s room is certainly left leaning. I’m undoubtedly left leaning. You know, Mike Baxter is a conservative. Tim is a conservative. At a time of nice polarization, I’m not going to faux that there weren’t instances once I was offended about issues, and I’ve bought to go in, and work with those who really feel precisely the alternative as I do.
You know what? It’s a useful lesson, as a result of all of us revered one another, and talked about these items. We didn’t essentially change minds, or come to agreements, however we co-existed splendidly, and we care about one another. If something comes via on this last season, I would like that to return via that Mike Baxter talks about being related, respecting the opposite facet, even once you disagree with it. Get previous the place we’re at proper now, when it comes to the polarization and the demonizing of the individuals you don’t agree with. Every day, I needed to go in, and listen to issues I didn’t essentially agree with, and I discovered it enlightening, and it made me a greater particular person.
DEADLINE: What do you assume you’ll miss most about engaged on Last Man Standing?
ABBOTT: The longevity, I assume. In the present enterprise, they solely present non permanent housing. That’s all we ever get. Nothing lasts. So, to have the chance to hire a home for 9 years, the place you’re feeling such as you really personal it? It’s particular, and heartbreaking on the similar time.
It was nice to have the ability to spend a decade of my life with these individuals, and actually get to know them. The good and the dangerous. The laborious and the simple. The enjoyable and the troublesome. I bought the total gamut. You don’t actually get that on most exhibits.
DEADLINE: Are you strolling away with any new classes as a showrunner?
ABBOTT: New classes don’t come to me usually. I’d say this – that artistic issues require artistic options. That you get used to doing issues a sure method, and once you’re not longer allowed to do them, at first, it panics you a bit bit, and also you assume, how the hell are we going to do that? And you realize what? You discover a approach to do it, however it’s rewarding in a really totally different method.
DEADLINE: You’re talking in regards to the pandemic, proper?
ABBOTT: Absolutely. Trying to generate a present, and produce a present, underneath the situations that we produced them underneath, you realize, and that we bought the total season in – I didn’t consider that we have been going to have the ability to try this. The capacity of all people to step up was exceptional and so inspiring, to me. Yeah. It was an enormous problem. Yet, ending it, getting via that process, it was rewarding.