The Last Man Standing Season 9 premiere episode featured a familiar face rarely seen since the show was revived on Fox. Eve Baxter, played by Kaitlyn Dever, appeared in a cold open set during the coronavirus pandemic. After ABC canceled Last Man Standing in 2017, Dever became an in-demand star, appearing in hit movies and other projects, most notably Olivia Wilde's Booksmart.
At the beginning of "Time Flies," Mandy (Molly McCook) and Kyle (Christoph Sanders) opened up baby shower gifts from their friends and family, with Mike (Tim Allen) and Vanessa (Nancy Travis) looking on. Eve's gift was a giant blue sweatshirt with the U.S. Air Force emblem printed on it. The sweatshirt was obviously too big for a baby, so Mike joked that it could fit Chuck Larabee (Jonathan Adams). "I'd love it, except Marines don't wear flyboy gear," Chuck chimed in.
"Is there anything you didn't get that you wanted?" Kristin (Amanda Fuller) asked Mandy. "No, I just wish we could all be together," Mandy said. "Oh, honey, we will be soon enough," Vanessa said. "As soon as the planet stops trying to kill us!" Mike chimed in.
Aside from the opening, Last Man Standing will not be covering the coronavirus pandemic in the same way some serious medical or police dramas have. Instead, the show flashed forward in its final season premiere. During an Outdoor Man vlog, Mike grew a beard that got progressively bigger until he could play Santa Claus. A calendar flew by, revealing that the show has jumped to 2023, by which point hopefully the pandemic will be over. However, Mandy and Kyle did move back in with Mike and Vanessa during the lockdown, and that change was carried on in the show's post-pandemic world.
As for Dever, she was a part of Last Man Standing when the show began in 2011. When ABC canceled the show, she took on several star-making projects, including Booksmart, Detroit, The Front Runner, and Beautiful Boy. Since Fox revived the show in 2018, she has only appeared in a handful of episodes, including two in Season 8.
Unlike ABC's decision in 2017, Allen is at peace to end the show with Season 9. "As we approach the ninth season, I just admire and feel grateful for all the hard work our wonderful cast and crew have done," Allen said in a statement in October. "We had all considered to end the show after last season, but together with Fox, we decided to add a year so we could produce a full season to create the gentle and fun goodbye. I'm looking forward to a memorable and hilarious final season." New episodes will air Thursdays this season at 9:30 p.m. ET on Fox.