It’s a New Year, but the same old Baxter family on Season 7, Episode 11 of “Last Man Standing.” In the latest episode, Mike competed with his son-in-law to determine who is the ultimate nice guy.
The first episode of 2019 opened with Mike arriving at Ryan’s pot store in order to give him some tax papers and handle a few of his more clerical things. While there, he asks if he can take his grandson, Boyd, on a fishing trip that weekend. Ryan admits that he had plans, but agrees to let Mike take the boy for some grandpa time.
However, while Mike is getting ready for the trip, Kristin comes in and mentions that Ryan had plans to take his son to an arts and crafts festival that weekend, but relinquished in order to be nice to Mike. That didn’t sit well with Mike, who approached Boyd to tell him that fishing would be postponed. However, Ryan entered and began arguing with Mike over who Boyd would go with for the weekend. Hating the site of his dad and grandad fighting, Boyd suggests that all three of them attend a hot air balloon race a short drive away.
Mike and Ryan are sick to their stomachs about being stuck on a road trip with the other, but agree to it in order to make Boyd happy and not yield the high ground of “nice guy” to the other.
Meanwhile, Mandy and Kyle are taking in a true crime podcast about a series of murders from 1972. They reach the end of it and exchange theories only to learn that the murders remain unsolved. However, when Mike comes in and suggests that one of the photos on Kyle’s crudely-constructed murder board looks a lot like Ed with hair, the two can’t help but let their theorizing go a little off the rails.
Things are compounded when they invite Ed to lunch and casually bring the podcast up, prompting him to get very strange, defensive and downright threatening.
While Mandy and Kyle ponder what to do about a potential murderer being a major part of their inner circle, Mike is really tearing into Ryan on their road trip. He brings up how slow he’s driving and the fact that he’s listening to nothing but NPR. For a guy like Mike, the confined space is overbearing and prompting him to lash out. Fortunately, he gets a chance to stretch his legs when it’s revealed that Ryan has been ignoring his “check engine” light.
As Boyd waits in the car with headphones on, the duo tries to fix the car. Their arguing eventually takes them to a pretty real place, wherein Ryan admits that his son’s admiration for Mike frustrates him and reminds him of the fact that his dad hated how much he liked his grandpa. His dad hated it so much that he refused to let him see his grandpa before he died, meaning all he has now are vague memories of him. He doesn’t know how to fix his car, but he knows what not to do as a parent thanks to his.
This strikes a chord with Mike, even if he won’t really admit it. He compliments his son-in-law for being a good dad, even if he disagrees with him on almost every issue. When they get back in the car, they both had a heart-to-heart with Boyd and do what their fathers never did - explain that their arguing is for them and that it doesn’t affect their respective relationships with him.
The episode ends on a comedic note as Mandy and Kyle float the idea of going to the police with their theory about Ed. Before they can, he emerges from outside to reveal that he’d been eavesdropping on them… kind of like a creepy serial killer. However, he reveals to them the real reason he got so mysterious was that he spent 1972 partying nude with hippies and Barbra Streisand. He kept it hush-hush so that he wouldn’t embarrass the singer, whose star was on the rise at that time.