Thursday, November 20, 2014

Every now and then you see something that just gets you right in the gut!

Singer Michelle Madeira's microphone cut out as she sang the US National Anthem before the match between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Nashville Predators in Toronto.

And then this happened...

 

The match was in Toronto so the majority of the people singing were most definitely Canadian. And it made my day. It was something so simple but so beautiful. In a time where there's so much shit going on in the world, for a moment all that was set aside in favor of friendship.

It gives me hope.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Verdict on USA Network’s new comedy “Benched”: A Winner.




Every now and then a new comedy comes along that's just really funny.  Benched, created by Michaela Watkins and Damon Jones and starring Eliza Coupe and Jay Harrington is that comedy.



SPOILER WARNING!!!!!
_________________________________

Moments after receiving a phone call from her ex-fiancée letting her know he’s getting married, hardworking, high-powered corporate attorney Nina Whitley discovers that the promotion she’d sacrificed everything for has been given to her less qualified colleague, Debbie, a “good lawyer with great breasts”. 

All hell breaks loose when Nina interrupts Debbie’s acceptance speech with an all-out tirade against the entire firm with insults that had me standing and shouting “You go girl!” as she told them off while she smashed glass and threw things including a precious vase that had been a gift from Elton John. 

The tirade ends with final words to the boss as she struts into the elevator to go to the nearest bar to get “toilet hugging drunk”.  In a final act of defiance she tells them all to “piss up a rope” as she waits for the elevator doors to close.

Only they don’t. 

Cue the elevator music and a few uncomfortable seconds that feel more like minutes. Finally, it’s Debbie who reminds her that she has to use her ID card to operate the elevator after five o’clock.  

Having swiped her card, she’s waiting impatiently for the elevator which seems to be taking forever. Not knowing what to do next Nina proceeds to explain herself but when the boss tells her she’ll never work in corporate law again she tells him off again. Finally, as the doors begin to close tells she gives them some parting words accompanied by a beautiful hand gesture. 

Only the doors don’t close. Again.
 
Fade to black.

It was awkward. It was cringe-worthy. It was hilarious. I couldn't help but be thrown back in time, twenty years to the moment this happened to me. Only it wasn't a law firm, it was a party. And the means of exit wasn't an elevator, it was a locked door. And the nearest available exit required me to walk through the group of people I'd just insulted, who thankfully, did allow me access as they parted like the red sea, their eyes shooting daggers into me.

Oy!

Anyway...with no shot of finding a new job in corporate law, Nina ends up at the Public Defender’s office, defending the city’s most impoverished citizens.  It seems that her reputation precedes her as Sheryl, one of her new colleagues tells her that she’s a legend, “the crazy lady who smashed a vase over Elton John’s head.”  But it doesn’t end there.  Upon entering her office, she meets yet another colleague, Phil, whose initial greeting to her includes, “Is it true you went all Gary Busey and smashed a lamp in George Michael’s face?”

And that is just the beginning.

Nina is late for court and discovers her nemesis in the courtroom is none other than her ex-fiancée, Trent.  She’s pissed when Trent, the smug bastard he is, downplays their former relationship by telling the judge they used to date.  

The judge chimes in letting them both know he doesn’t give a shit. And trust me, he means it.

When she’s ready to give up, her assistant, the oh-so-witty Micah convinces her to stick around, that her clients will have no one to represent and they’ll all go back to jail. When she finally returns to her duties, Nina manages to piss off the judge and loses every attempt at bail for her clients, all while her snide ex-fiancée smirks openly at her failure.

Let me just add that in the midst of all the courtroom craziness is a very minor but hilarious subplot—the smell in the courtroom. I won't give it away but the way it is worked into the scenes is brilliant. I want to give it away and yet no, I can't. It's so unexpected and hilariously funny you have to experience it for yourself!

During a break between cases, Trent approaches Nina about what he’d revealed to her over the phone, insisting he’d just wanted to “do the right thing” but then tells her that he wouldn’t have done it if he'd known it would cause her to "bash Michael Bolton with a bowl.”

Score! I love the writers already. Because there's nothing more beautiful than taking an event that happened and turning it into a great running joke. Again, something similar happened to me in real life. One minor incident has, twenty years later, turned into the stuff of legend. At this point, I stopped disputing it and just take the accolades and pats on the back. I mean, the legend built itself, who am I to dispute it?

Alas, this gag is great and I hope it continues. I'm interested to know how far the writers can take it and what crazy legend will come of it.

The antics get better as Nina's day gets worse.  She can't find her next client and asks the bailiff to find her. Clearly, Nina's hothead reputation precedes her and when he refuses to help, Nina takes matters into her own hands. The result of this....well...no words can do this scene justice.  But it involves a miniskirt and heels and an attempt to climb over a half-high door, all while trying not to flash everyone in the courtroom. As I watched, I knew that it was not going to go well for her. Something has to go wrong, I thought. And it does. And it's perfect. The scene is just brilliant and Eliza Coupe makes you think she does this sort of thing every day. The way she played this scene the timing is perfect. 

The character of Phil Quinlan is going to be a treasure, I can already feel it. Sitting in the courtroom, Phil harasses Nina about having dated Trent, wondering what she could’ve possibly seen in him. He's so obnoxious in his pushing her. It's obvious he can’t stand Trent and wants Nina to knock him down a peg or two. You have to wonder why he doesn't do it himself till Micah steps in and tells Nina why Phil hates Trent so much. The two-line exchange between Micah and Phil is so perfect, it leaves you wanting more snark between them. 

Phil finally succeeds in annoying Nina into going after Phil and boy does she! She gathers together all of the great talents within her that make her such a great lawyer and she puts them to use.  Of course while she’s doing it she’s pissing off the judge and bordering on contempt and the possibility of being fired but in the end, she gets the job done and done well and Trent is clearly rattled by it. Phil of course, sits by living vicariously through her victory.

In the end, Nina Whitley has clearly had a crappy day, or rather a crappy life as of late. She needed that victory in the courtroom, just a little something to remind her she's still in "the game".  Later on, in the final scene of the pilot, she walks away in her second victory, having subtly gained the upper hand she so desperately needed in order to regain a bit of her dignity and self-confidence. And you get the feeling that though there’s more crap coming her way, Nina is going to be okay.

Nina Whitley is a woman who has lost things very important to her and forced to start over, she finds the experience humiliating and frustrating. She is a fish out of water, working in a place she doesn't belong with people she has nothing in common with. Or so she thinks. By the end of the first episode, she's regained some of her confidence and it's obvious the brief experiences she’s had and the people she's met have had an effect on her. Her troubles are by no means over, but you're sucked in now and you can't help but wonder what will happen next.

Eliza Coupe plays Nina to perfection and the character is so endearing and likeable that you can't help but root for her. She's not just another pretty face either, what you see in Nina is a smart, sassy and witty woman. She got where she is because of her brains, not her looks. You also see her vulnerability and humanity and despite her years in the shark tank of corporate law, she's still got heart and she still cares.  Nina Whitley is so perfectly imperfect and wonderfully flawed and just a little bit crazy.

But aren't we all?

While Eliza Coupe rocks the role of Nina, let's not forget the terrific supporting cast. Jay Harrington’s Phil grows on you from the start. He's charming, endearing and funny. He’s one of the good guys who was once at the top but because of a few bad experiences, finds himself at the bottom, now living vicariously through the victories of others. Then there’s Jolene Purdy’s Micah, a sassy, tell-it-like-it-is second-year law student and intern who doesn't put up with Nina's self-pity and will no doubt will be the one to help keep her focused. Carter Macintyre's Trent is convincing as the witty, ambitious, manipulative ex-fiancee willing to do anything to get to the top. Maria Bamford is great as Sheryl, the clueless, absent-minded, yet endearing lawyer who keeps everyone laughing. Finally, there's the immensely talented Fred Melamed as Judge Nelson, a no-nonsense smartass judge who kills it in all his scenes. I hope he returns for more because he’s just great.  

I'm a very picky television viewer and I liked the pilot episode a lot. I found it to be innovative, smart and just plain funny. Watching Nina endure one mishap and embarrassing moment after another, reminded me of my own life, which on some days, is like a comedy of errors.  

Benched is a show that encourages us to loosen up a little, laugh at ourselves and make light of the shit that happens to us every single day. And let's face it, laughter is the best distraction from the stark reality that constantly surrounds us.

Michaela Watkins (SNL, Trophy Wife) and Damon Jones (Halfway Home) serve as executive producers and writers. John Enbom (Party Down) is executive producer/showrunner. Andrea Shay (Family Tools, It Takes A Village) and Mark Gordon (Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds)  serve as executive producers for The Mark Gordon Company.

Benched premieres on October 28th at 10:30 p.m. on USA Network but you can click here to watch the pilot online now! Go! You do not want to miss this!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Like it or not, the US must implement travel restrictions to prevent the spread of Ebola.


After reading comments by White House spokesman Josh Earnest and CDC Director Tom Frieden about the uselessness of taking preventive measures in the form of banning or restricting travel from Ebola-stricken nations, and that we should instead work to contain it if it arrives here, I had to say something.

When asked under what conditions President Obama would implement a travel ban, Earnest responded, “We are confident that the sophisticated medical infrastructure that exists here in the United States can prevent the wide spread of Ebola.” Asked a similar question, Frieden responded, "I wish we could get to zero risk by sealing off the border. But we can’t. The only way we are going to get to zero risk in this country is by controlling it in Africa. Until that happens, Americans may come back with Ebola. Other people who have a right to return or a visa to enter may come back. People will go to third countries and come from there. Sealing them off—first off won’t work. Second off, it will backfire. Because if we can’t get help in there, then we’re not going to be able to stop the outbreak and ultimately we will end up at higher risk, not lower risk.”

So, that’s it. Rather than try to do everything we can to prevent the disease from reaching our borders, we’re just going to take a “sit and wait” approach. While it may be true that an individual may opt to enter the US through a third party country, it’s still not a valid reason to not implement these measures. And while it may be true that zero risk can be obtained from controlling Ebola in Africa, it’s hubris to think that not one single infected person could make it into the United States. It happened once. It can happen again.

Frieden speaks of rights but with rights come responsibilities. Every person entering the United States has a responsibility not to bring with them a serious infectious disease and if they do, then the government has a responsibility to quarantine that individual and take every precaution to ensure they do not transmit that disease to others. The government also has the responsibility to deny entry to any individual who comes from a nation where a serious infectious disease is widespread if they believe that person could endanger the health and safety of Americans.

There is no cure for Ebola, there is only treatment. The difference between treatment in Africa and the U.S. is that in Africa there aren’t enough hospitals, beds or medical personnel to handle the cases. They also do not have access to the experimental treatment. The natives in infected countries are not educated in the proper ways of handling the sick and the dead. In the U.S., patients are isolated, receive specialized care and hydration and are given an experimental vaccine, one that has not been thoroughly tested. And just because one receives treatment in the U.S., it doesn’t mean that treatment is 100 percent effective. In fact, it’s not. People treated here can still die from the virus.

Because we can’t trust people not to lie on questionnaires and because not everyone may have a fever when attempting to enter the U.S., we have to take all preventive measures available. Travel restrictions make sense. Preventing entry by individuals from Ebola-stricken nations into the U.S. would be a wise first step. The U.S. would not be the first nation to do this. SOS International maintains a list of travel bans and restrictions of other nations, most of them in Africa.

Americans are wondering why this has not yet happened here. The response from government officials is that it would make things worse, that travel restrictions would hinder the ability of medical and military personnel to travel between the U.S. and Ebola-stricken nations. If that’s the case, officials should create a process that addresses the issue.

Here’s an idea: the U.S. could set up CDC-staffed quarantine facilities for its citizens and other authorized persons. It may require that they remain in quarantine for the duration of the 21-day incubation period before traveling to the U.S. It’s cumbersome, but isn’t it worth it if it saves lives? And if the governments of Ebola-stricken countries object to the quarantine stations, we simply tell them we won’t send personnel to assist them until they agree to it.

There’s been criticism in regard to the suggestion of travel restrictions. American scientist and Ebola expert David Quammen told Anderson Cooper that the U.S. cannot ban entry from Ebola-stricken nations because of slavery. He said, “I mean, we in America, how dare we turn our backs on Liberia given the fact that this is a country that was founded in the 1820s, 1830s because of American slavery. We have a responsibility to stay connected to them and help them see this through.”

Nobody is suggesting we turn our backs on Liberia or any country dealing with this crisis. However, while we help them, we have a responsibility to take every precaution to ensure the virus does not spread to the U.S. Our government must not allow itself to be guilted into not taking aggressive action because of its past history of slavery.

While the chances of being infected with Ebola are slim, it is possible. A Q&A on Ebola which was published by The New York Times made a bold statement that a person cannot contract Ebola via public transportation, saying a person with Ebola is “really, really sick” and “seeking hospital care.”
It went on to say that it is unlikely that an infected person is riding the bus or going to work.
That’s wishful thinking. The early stages of Ebola include flu-like symptoms. Sick people, even those with the flu, ride the bus; go to work and school and the grocery store, every single day. All it takes is the right contact during the symptoms stage to transmit the virus. A person who’s not traveled to infected areas of the world would have no reason to believe they’ve contracted anything more than the flu—until it’s too late.  By that time, how many others would they have been in contact with?

The CDC itself has stated that while Ebola cannot be spread through the air by coughing or sneezing, it can be spread if infected sweat, mucus or saliva is left on some surfaces. The Washington Post reported via the CDC that that the virus can live for several hours in dried bodily fluids and that there’s the possibility it can spread by handshake if mucus or saliva is present on an infected person’s hand.

Government officials insisted early on that it was unlikely Ebola would make its way here and yet it did.  Thomas Duncan was infected with the virus though he exhibited no symptoms. He lied on a questionnaire and entered the U.S. and is now in a Dallas hospital in critical condition. The people he was living with are in quarantine and the government is tracking down every individual who had contact with him.

Ebola is in America and while there’s no reason to panic, there is cause for concern, especially considering the White House and the CDC, the agency responsible for protecting Americans from health threats, refuse to take certain preventive measures as part of a broader plan to fight this deadly virus. This is unacceptable. The American people expect their government to do everything within its power to ensure the safety and security of this nation. We can’t predict with any certainty that another infected person will not enter this country. We can’t predict that if an infected person does enter this country, that the virus will not spread. And we can’t predict that if it does spread, those infected can be successfully treated.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Never forget that the Baltimore Ravens tweeted this:


The Ravens disclaimer says their views don't necessarily represent the team's front office or coaching staff. Fair enough. So whose views do they represent? Who's tweeting? And why?  Whether they like it or not, they do officially represent the team and everything they tweet has the possibility of positively or negatively impacting the Ravens organization.

In this case, the decision to tweet this was not a wise one. They may not be agreeing with what Palmer said, but they believe it was significant enough to tweet. By doing so, it gives the appearance that there's credibility in Janay Rice's statement. It makes Janay Rice seem somehow responsible for the incident.

Obviously in light of the video released, the Ravens thought tweeting this was a bad idea too because they deleted it a few hours ago. 

Too little, too late.


Sunday, September 07, 2014

PSA #687: On Potato Chips




Potato chips should never, under any circumstance, taste like coffee made with milk that has been frothed up with pressurized steam.

Thank you.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Last Ship: No Place Like Home



In this episode, the crew of the USS Nathan James returns home to find a lab to manufacture the vaccine. Chandler sets out to find his family and comes face to face with something absolutely terrifying about the place they once called home.

Before it aired, I made the situation very clear:



Nothing is as it seems.

Thorwald, leader of the "War Lords"

I've learned one thing from this show and that's nothing is as it seems. We're led to believe that former Baltimore cop Thorwald is the bad guy and former Vice Chair of the President's Defense Policy Board, Amy Granderson is the good guy but something doesn't seem right from the very beginning.

Something's just...off. I learned to go with my instinct here.




Amy Granderson, HBIC


Granderson plants the seed early that the warlords are the enemy when she says they've killed more people than the actual virus. She says they've raided the National Archives for copies of the Constitution.

But by the end of the episode we've got it figured out, we know why they did it. They don't want to destroy the Constitution, they want to preserve it.









  "It is my duty to help the right people first; the people whose survival will 
ensure the future of our entire society...and all that we hold dear."

Chilling scene between Rachel and Granderson. I got goosebumps watching it. I mean seriously! And I would not be doing my duty here if I did not recapture it completely...

"In the 14th century, the black death wiped out sixty percent of the European population. The plague killed indiscriminately. The artists scientists, thinkers, so few and precious to begin with were wiped out. It upended social order and prolonged the dark ages a hundred and fifty years. I cannot let that happen here.


I understand your allegiance to your friends. you've gone through so much together but you've seen nothing of the chaos here at home; the hysteria, the cruelty, the savagery. You must try to see the situation from our point of view. There are people out there who would use this crisis to take what does not belong to them. They are the barbarians at the gate who want to send us into a new dark age. We have the power to stop them, to keep then in their place. It is my duty to help the right people first; the people whose survival will ensure the future of our entire society...and all that we hold dear."

"So you gather your elite few within these walls. And the rest? What happens to them?"

"The virus doesn't discriminate. That unfortunate task falls to me."

OHNOSHEDIDNT!!!!!

What kind of megalomania fuckery is this? Don't get me wrong, this is a great scene but I did not expect this! Okay so...she's not killing sick people because they're already dying. She's killing healthy average people so as to be sure their numbers don't outnumber the elite that remain.  Because God forbid, we can't allow the undesirables in society to procreate can we? And no doubt the vaccine, when manufactured, will be reserved for the elite. This was a chilling scene perfectly executed. I love Alfre Woodard and she scared the shit out of me in this scene. She showed absolutely no remorse. Psychopath anyone?

Her bit about the Dark Ages...well, it's a long, controversial period and we're not here for a history lesson but I'll just say this: during the Dark Ages, people sought faith, religion. That was looked down upon by the intellectuals who thought religion was actually "dark". In Granderson's utopia the world would be dominated by individuals who place rationale and reason higher than faith, in fact, they would eliminate it. Much like the Church once tried to do with the intellectuals.

History's a bitch isn't it? Too bad Granderson hasn't learned a thing from it.  And that will be her downfall. Well that and as Ruskov so eloquently once said, hubris.


"This is MY ship!"

"I'm not giving you a goddamned thing, you son of a bitch!"
Heh. You did not just tell Mike Slattery that you're taking his ship. Oh, Norris, you have no idea what holy hell is about to come down upon you!

Slattery is a man who willingly risked his life and the lives of the crew to find the Captain and there is no way...NO WAY anyone is taking that ship while he's alive. Norris threatens to pick off the crew one by one and says his troopers have surrounded the ship but...no fucking way.

It's not just Slattery who I have faith in, it's the entire crew. This crew is family, and given all they've been through, there is no way they are going down without a fight. I wouldn't mind seeing the crew just open up an old-fashioned can of whoopass at this point. After all, I think they've earned it.



"They're burning them. They're burning the bodies to power the city."

I enjoyed that fast-paced gunfight between Chandler, Burk, Jeter, Green and the troopers. It happened so quickly and it was perfect. Now, why didn't the Troopers want them going to Olympia?  Especially knowing they were all inoculated against the virus? There was something going on at Olympia they did not want the crew of the Nathan James to see.

This leads me to an important part of this episode that has some critics annoyed. (As if we care what the critics think). It happens when Chandler, Burk, Jed and the kids escape the building and are looking down below watching as truck after truck full of bodies are being driven away. Burk doesn't understand what's going on and they are horrified. The camera pulls back and that's when you notice the smokestacks in the distance and then Chandler realizes the truth.

They're using the bodies for fuel.

Screeeech!

Full stop!

What in all holy hell? 

How could Chandler know this? And is it really possible to power an entire city with these bodies? Do I need to contact Mythbusters again after the oh uh..tin foil mishap earlier this season? By the way, the guys at Mythbusters said they own my ass for that one!




So what could they be doing with the bodies? The camera showed the smokestacks for a reason. In my opinion, it would make more sense if the bodies were used for power but for Granderson's headquarters, not for the entire city. It's plausible and besides, would Granderson care about giving power to those on the outside? The warlords and undesirables? Answer: she wouldn't.

That scene though was great, it really was and every one of us should be thanking God for Jocko Sims's Emmy-worthy expression when he said, "I...I don't understand" which had me nearly reduced me to tears. Just...that look on his face...shock...confusion....Give that man an Emmy just for making me cry!

Another particularly touching but sad moment was Chandler's daughter telling her father:

"Daddy, we have to go." 

It just hits you deep that these two kids who only months earlier were laughing and playing and going to school, without a care in the world are now seeing death and destruction on an unfathomable scale, which has forced them to grow up far too soon.


"Nathan James come in do you read me?
Nathan James, this is the Captain, come in. Do you read me?
Nathan James, where are you?"


Oh we know where the Nathan James is.  That ending was again...chilling. Another brilliantly shot scene mixing in some serious music and it was just damn amazing. Remember how I began this with "Nothing is as it seems"?

Mark my words, it's true.

All in all:

I loved it!

Chandler is now a single parent. What a scene that was when he found out his wife was dead. Well done. He doesn't have time to mourn though, things are happening so fast. It will be interesting to see how he manages trying to take care of and protect his kids while being on a mission to save the world.

The scene with Tex and Rachel was touching. He went out all Han-Solo-like and I loved it. We have not seen the end of Tex. I have high hopes he's going to be instrumental in taking back the Nathan James!
 
Who destroyed the lab at Detrick?  Granderson could've destroyed it to ensure nobody else could work on manufacturing a cure or Thorwald could've destroyed it to ensure Granderson had fewer places to manufacture her death drug.

In that scene when Granderson is talking to Rachel and we cut to the outside world, we saw Thorwald walking among those people, smiling at them, giving that little girl food, right at the moment when she talked about "barbarians at the gate" and I thought, oh no, it is NOT Thorwald. Oh he's an easy target because he's the leader of the undesirables...the homeless, the destitute, the poor. It's possible he didn't sign up to be their leader, it just turned out that with his skills, he was probably one of the only people capable of leading them, of helping them survive.

Some are hinting at a Chandler/Rachel relationship. Please. NO! I think throwing any kind of romance into this will ruin the show. Keep a friendship and strong alliance among your three leads but don't ruin it. To the showrunners, I implore you...stick to what you know, to what you're good at--action, suspense, drama. That's it.

Bertrise is Rachel's secret weapon. You can't manufacture the vaccine without her. But nobody outside a few on the Nathan James knows this. Because of that Rachel could threaten to destroy her lab and all her work in exchange for letting the crew go. She could destroy it all but she knows she's still got Bertrise if she had to start over. Also, what if Granderson finds out that Foster is pregnant with the world's first immune baby?

Granderson and Thorwald will have a heavy presence in Season two and I'd like to know a little on their backstories. It'd really be interesting if there's a pre-apocalyptic connection of some sort.

Hopefully we'll see some interaction between Slattery and Thorwald. Two former cops. Heh. This should be interesting.

Bill Smitrovich! He's one of the greatest guest stars you could have on a show. Don't use him lightly or take him for granted.

Some people think a few things in the finale were farfetched. Well DUH! It's a post-apocalyptic world, EVERYTHING IS FARFETCHED!  Everything has changed, far beyond what anyone could have ever imagined. Everything once true is now a lie. Everything once thought science fiction is now a reality.  The devastation is of such epic proportions, there is no way anyone could've been prepared for it. In a world such as this, gone are the rules, anything and everything goes and the true character of people is revealed.

I enjoyed the hell out of this episode. I don't compare it to the other post-apocalyptic shows (I don't even watch them), I just watch this show for what it is and enjoy it. I don't try to rip apart the details piece by piece (though I do call out the occasional cheesiness) because it's just not a procedural show. Just sit back, focus on the big picture and you will enjoy the hell out of it.

Finally, the numbers speak volumes. The Last Ship, in its inaugural season just snagged the coveted #1 scripted show on basic cable this summer, among adults 18-49 and 25-54. It also ranks as cable's #1 new series in 2014 among total viewers and adults 25-54.

The hell with critics, the people know what they like. And they like this show!

When I think about how far we've come since the first episode, I just had no idea it would be this wild a ride but it was and I'm grateful for that.

I'd like to give a thank you to the cast and crew of The Last Ship for all their hard work. Also special shout out to some folks I've gotten to know who always keep me laughing even during the most serious moments: Andy, Marissa, Charles, Christina, Jocko, Travis, Adam, Suze, Fay, Darlene, the PR folks behind @TheLastShipTNT as well as the kickass @TheLastShipFans...you guys helped spice up an otherwise dreary, hot summer and we can't wait to gear up for next season. 

See you in 2015! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Last Ship: Trials




"When they tell the story about the great plague in the 21st century, 
they'll talk about you. 

The six."

"We just risked everything to save your sorry ass so that you can lead."
"I told you God put me here for a reason."


"I never had the chance to thank you."



"Kara's pregnant."


"Don't you dare leave me!"

Dying.
"Who did I think I was? That I could solve this?"

"We have a vaccine?"

"We don't just have a vaccine, we have the cure."

It worked!


Darien realizes the truth.



You knew. 

You knew someone was going to die. You just didn't know who. I literally was on the edge of my seat waiting for that inevitable moment. Some people say it should've been obvious but I wasn't about to assume anything.

I have a few (yeah, right!) random thoughts on this episode, in no particular order:

CMC Jeter. Knowing his past, what he'd been through, that he was so willing to sacrifice himself, to help his crew, mankind, and yes, to make amends for his soul for killing his family, I could see the possibility of his death in this episode and the thought of it was heartbreaking. I feel that Jeter is constantly in pursuit of absolution and I hope that someday he'll find it. His death would've been the most devastating loss for this crew and the fans because his character despite all his pain is a rock for the entire crew. Not to mention he's beloved to us all. Looking back, losing him in the ninth episode of the first season was highly unlikely but still it would've been a shocker.

Tex. He's been with us since the beginning. At first we didn't know what to think of him but he grew on us. His quirky sense of humor at the most inopportune moments makes him endearing. Under that rough and rugged warrior exterior is a man who has suffered pain. His hallucinatory confession to Rachel, "You make me wanna love again" was heartfelt and heartbreaking. You can't help but want to know more about this man and his secrets. And from what we saw in that locket, he has them. 

Bill Smitrovich. Yay! I love Bill, he's a great guy and huge supporter of the troops and as a veteran I just love the hell out of that. And he's been on my television screen since I was a teenager watching his Detective Danny Krychek alongside Dennis Farina in Crime Story. Thrilled that he's back and this time as Chandler's father. I hope he's in for the long haul because he adds to any show he's on.

Rachel's God complex. Okay some people say she has one. I don't. I just think she's a dedicated scientist who will stop at nothing to find the answer (reminds me a bit of House!) because that's who she is. Rachel is tasked with an enormous burden--find the vaccine that can save the world. That's a HUGE responsibility to place on just one person!  Science is not exact, Rachel knows this and yet she beat herself up over Maya's death. She, like Slattery and Chandler, is committed to her profession, and does not take failure lightly, and nor should she. Her relentless pursuit of a vaccine is heroic but it comes with a cost. She feels personally responsible for the human losses and it overshadows her confidence. I like that. It makes her human. At the end of the day, we know Rachel will pick herself up and forge ahead. Again, that's who she is.

Quincy. Early on Quincy took a moment to thank Chandler for all he'd done. He acknowledged he didn't deserve it after all he'd done to the crew and while Chandler didn't argue it, he simply accepted by telling Quincy they needed to finish what they started. In the beginning I defended Quincy and remained hopeful for the redemption of his character and I believe we have it, allowing us to put Quincy's past bad deeds in perspective, in the past and move on.

Foster & Green. Wow! Who of us expected that shocker? Just when I was sure that Green and Foster were through, this is thrown into the mix. I'll admit after the way he treated her earlier this season, it was touching to see their interactions in this episode. I also noted how Chandler and Slattery watched them as well. Both men understood. Gotta say being pregnant in the middle of a plague is a pretty nasty situation and I don't see her having this baby. However, I will say this, as much as I have thoroughly hated the idea of a Green/Foster relationship, this is actually the first time I've rooted for them as a pair. But I don't think this is going to end pretty, not by any means.

Last but not least:  
WOULD SOMEONE PLEASE STOP TOM CHANDLER FROM 
VOLUNTEERING FOR EVERYTHING?

Carry On!

Overall this was a great episode. And I didn't curse. Not even once! What in hell is wrong with me? The writers must be slacking! Must make up for that in the finale!

Trials was very emotional with many great moments like Slattery telling Chandler he was right about Rachel, Tex cracking jokes, Quincy's humble thank you to Chandler, Jeter hallucinating and wanting to be with his girls, Green telling Foster she's pregnant, Chandler telling Slattery to let the crew visit as it might be their last chance, Maya saying that her boyfriend would likely be the only one to miss her, Miller telling Maya that even if no one misses her he will, Garnett singing to Foster as if she were her child, Tex's gut-wrenching confession to Rachel, Rachel nearly breaking down, Quincy trying to convince Rachel she could do this, Bertrise waking up to the realization that her blood worked, Slattery fighting the tears as he watched what was happening to his crew, and Chandler and Rachel's embrace at the end.

They made me cry!

I really want to learn more about the members of the crew we don't see very often like Garnett, Chung, and Miller. Garnett has an especially interesting job, she's a female Chief Engineer. Having served myself, I understand the ups and downs of women sailors but she's an officer and she's in charge of the department. I'd love to see more of her. I like that she's a role model to the people who work under her, especially Chung. As to Chung (yes, Andy here's your shout out!) he's smart and funny and he's a hard worker, determined to do well and make his superiors proud of him. He's easily likeable. And Miller? He's grown on me. His character is young but he's got potential and he's got a good heart as we saw in his interactions with Maya. And I think under the watchful eye of Burk, he'll go far.

Though the penultimate episode, Trials is a critical because it sets up the finale and with only one hour to go in the season, you can bet a lot is going to go down and fast too.  Be prepared to pay attention because a lot is going to happen!

They've got a prototype vaccine, they can immunize and cure but...they have to manufacture it which means they have to go home. And that will no doubt be very dangerous.

Chandler's family is in Virginia and just like anywhere else it's a dangerous place probably run by survivalists imposing martial law and shooting first, asking questions later. Darien Chandler is infected with the virus and it's only a matter of time before the kids and their grandfather are too. This is going to be brutal. Will there be a vaccine available to them? And if so, how much will Rachel be able to manufacture? Will Chandler be forced to choose between his children, his wife and his father? That would make for some serious storytelling. How do you choose?

Slattery has lost a son to this, I don't even think he's been able to grieve yet. I would really like to see the toll this has taken on the crew when they find out the fate of their families when they get back home.

We also have to ask the question: Will the virus mutate? Will Rachel be able to manufacture it?

WHAT IN HELL IS GOING TO HAPPEN? 

We have exactly one week. One. And you can bet I'll be sitting in my recliner doing the live-tweet and shouting at my television as it unfolds. Expect a very hearty dose of OMG!, HOLY SHIT!, WTF? NOOOO!, OHNOHEDIDNT!, SON OF A BITCH! in the next installment...



And oh yeah, you made Slattery cry...
But then you  made him laugh, so it's okay.






Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Last Ship: Two Sailors Walk Into A Bar


XO Slattery takes over as Commanding Officer of the USS Nathan James when Chandler and Tex are taken prisoner by the Russians. XO must find a way to save Chandler and Tex while protecting the vaccine prototype.

Spoiler warning:  There's a firefight! Yay! And oh yeah the episode kicks ass!


"My name is Thomas Chandler, Commander, United States Navy, 
Serial Number 4242022634"


Three times Chandler invoked that. Three! And every time I belted out a "Fuck yeah!" because I just couldn't help thinking how much it must've pissed Ruskov off. 

And that smarmy bastard Ruskov and his sneer and all his Russian bad-assness talking about how he's such a nice guy to give Kelly and her daughter "the treasures of the world" and kick his XO out of his stateroom so they could have a nice warm bed to sleep in. Gee, did he give them warm milk and cookies too? Maybe read the little one bedtime stories? I DON'T THINK SO!

"I'd like to treat you with the respect your rank affords."  

I honestly can't remember the last time I shouted "Fuck you!" so many times in such a short period of time. After watching this episode though, I thought the phrase had finally worn out its welcome in my vocabulary. (I'm a former sailor so that's not likely!)

Anyway,  Ruskov tells Chandler he'll gladly swap him and Tex for the doctor. Heh. Good one, man. Umm...how do you say "Moron" in Russian? It's actually "Морон" (I cheated and looked it up).  I tried "asshat" but there's no Russian translation :(

Fortunately this guy gets his comeuppance and OMG! if only I had known it was going to be so good, I would've thrown a party and invited people to celebrate the blessed event. I just want to add in that Ravil Isyanov really nails it here, he was so good.  
 

 Slattery and Rachel

"Let me just say what you're doing is very brave. I'm proud to know you."
"You make it sound like goodbye."
"I'll see you for breakfast."


Let me preface this with...if there's anyone out there who doesn't like XO and his bad ass Chicago homicide cop ass kicking attitude then don't talk to me. Just. Don't. 

In the earliest episodes, Slattery didn't trust Rachel, after all she'd lied to everybody and they were just a tiny bit pissed. Especially Slattery who probably had no problem keel-hauling her ass early on. After all, while they were hauling her to the arctic for her secret mission to gather primordial samples their families were dying of a virus they knew nothing about. I hated Rachel early on (it was that whiny bitch thing) but...man she grew on me and fast. And apparently she grew on Slattery too. And as we all know Mike Slattery is not the easiest guy to grow on.

Here, Rachel makes good by offering herself as a trade for Chandler and Tex. And you knew from the look on his face, that Slattery did not want her to do it. He knew she'd become a slave to Ruskov but he also knew that there was no way Ruskov would free the prisoners. No. Friggin. Way.  But he respected her decision because he understands loyalty and sacrifice (not to mention he had a plan in mind as soon as he got off the radio with Ruskov.) I get the feeling that if Mike Slattery had to sacrifice himself for the greater good, he would do it and given his civilian job, he understands sacrifice and he respects the hell out of what Rachel did.

The two big scenes between Rachel and Slattery, before she gave herself up to the Russians and after she'd been rescued and returned, were two of the most emotional moments of the episode. The bond here between Slattery and Rachel....well...I almost feel like these two should be kindred spirits. Rachel has no life, no family, no friends. She's basically a loner. Slattery is a homicide cop, a lonely guy working long hours, committed to the job. His marriage fell apart long ago, one of his three children is dead, the others may be too for all we know. There's not much these two have left. In my opinion they have more in common than anyone realizes. Just the way they looked at one another in that scene...I yelled, "OH FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, JUST HUG WILL YOU?"



Tex and Chandler

"How about The Great Escape?" 
"Kinda hard to tunnel out of a ship"
"Ah you got a point there."
"Have you ever seen Papillon?
"Are we just doing Steven McQueen flicks? What about Escape From Alcatraz?
"We need a dummy."
"What about bad english over there?"


Priceless interactions which kind of reminded me of Kirk, Spock and Bones in Star Trek. Always making a joke in the worst of situations. (By the way, any chance of getting Shatner in a guest spot? Maybe play a renegade Hungarian ship captain or something?)

Now, fellow cast members Jocko (Sims) and Andy (Tran) were joking with me the other night when we were tweeting about what Andy refers to as a "makeout sesh". (And yes Andy, we'll see about getting you royalties on this okay?)  But really...we knew what was really going on didn't we? I mean you people didn't possibly think that Tom Chandler, Father & Husband Of The Year was going to cheat on his wife by kissing another woman, did you?

DID YOU? This guy is a boy scout for crissakes. So Give. It. Up.

Of course we all knew (you did know, right?) why she kissed him the moment she ran over to him all Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights and all. And when they separated you could tell he had something in his mouth and no, it wasn't half of Rachel's tongue. This was a brilliant move on Slattery's part to plan this and get Rachel to go along with it.

 "Unbelievable. I can't believe she kissed you."
"You're a married man. for Pete's sake and you're Navy."
"Did you not get the talk buddy? No fraternization with the ladies."


Oh Tex, from Reno Nevada, please don't ever change. The look on Tex's face as the two were kissing was nothing short of priceless. And later, as Chandler was opening the note Rachel had passed to him, and thinking about the plan they had to formulate in order to meet the extraction crew, Tex was still hammering him about it. About how she hadn't gone to him first. And I was laughing my ass off. Someone get this man a girlfriend.


Slattery as CO

"Are you still there XO? Of course you are, you just don't know what to say. 
I understand you've never been in command before."

Oh SNAP! As they say... them are fightin' words. Ruskov was deliberately insulting Slattery and if you weren't out of your seat screaming profanities at that scene then I don't want to even know you!

It was a tense moment when Ruskov told Slattery that he wanted Rachel in exchange for Chandler and Tex For a moment I was unsure how Slattery would respond. He seemed to hesitate...I'm not sure if it was because he was trying to keep his anger in check or because he just didn't know what to say at that moment. But he recovered quickly after Ruskov's insult and he never wavered after that. While it's true, Slattery has never commanded his own ship, make no mistake about it, he is in charge here, immediately formulating a plan and never hesitating to carry it out to the end.

When Rachel confronts him insisting she go to the Russian ship and Slattery denies her, she argues the point, "We all know this is the only way to stop him, once and for all," and you knew Slattery agreed. Slattery had to know Chandler would be angry with his decision but the situation was different since Rachel found the vaccine. She would not have offered herself up and he would not have given her up had that not been the case.

"I've got you now you son of a bitch."


Frankly, I think Slattery should say "son of a bitch" more often because he gets this face and you just want to sit back with a tall cold one and watch him kick some ass. (By the way I highly advocate more Slattery-ass-kicking in future episodes. Steven Kane do you hear me??)

"This is your XO. Two Sailors walk into a bar. And they both walk out.
We will get our men back. We will get our Captain Back. That is all."


In case you couldn't tell, it was a proud moment for CMC Jeter.

"Thought I'd open with a joke."
"It was a good one, sir."


By the way you gotta love Charles Parnell, his CMC Jeter gets this look on his face like he's so damn proud of you!

Was there ever any doubt in these scenes that Slattery knew what he was doing? No. I'm sure he couldn't help but wonder what Chandler would do. But if he thought about it, it wasn't for long because Chandler wasn't the Captain, he was. This is what leadership is about. You step in and you use your best judgment, you weigh your options and you act. With his experience in law enforcement, this is something that Slattery has done every day of his life for years. IMO there's no reason his abilities commanding that ship would be handled any different.

Chandler may not be happy with Slattery's decision to send Rachel to the ship but as Captain of the ship, it was Slattery's decision to make. (Of course Chandler didn't have the benefit of knowing what Slattery knew--that Rachel had found the vaccine.) One had to wonder if Chandler would've also made the decision to blow up the Russian ship. I'd like to think that he would have but I'm not so sure. We saw the look on Slattery's face when Rachel talked about stopping the Russians once and for all. In his mind, there was only one way to do it. Destroy the few for the greater good. I really don't think Slattery had much of a choice.


"Daddy!" 


There really are no words to describe this scene. I cried. Most of you probably cried too. If you didn't, you need to go back and watch it over and over again until you do.  At that moment all the hate I had for Quincy flew out the window. The reason he's done everything we've hated him for was because of these two! How can you hate a guy for that? Now that he's got his family back, I feel like Quincy will be able to make amends with the crew and work with Rachel to create the vaccine and save the remaining population. I kinda liked everyone hating Quincy but I also like the idea that he's got his family back. He's the ONLY one on the ship who has his family so we'll see how the rest of the crew react to it. Also...what happens when Quincy learns what his wife was subjected to by Ruskov? Will he be able to control his anger? Will he direct it at Chandler? Will having his family back change him or make him even worse?


The mother of all "I am so fucked!" faces!

 "Like with all tragic heroes, your hubris brought about your downfall."


I. Can't. Even. There are not enough fine adjectives in the dictionary to describe the screencap above or well..the whole damn scene for that matter. The moment he said those words early in the episode I just kept thinking it was going to come back and haunt him. Now for the history challenged let me explain that hubris...in Greek tragedy refers to excessive pride or defiance of the gods.  And didn't we all think that Ruskov thought himself a God? I mean after all, in Dead Reckoning he boldly claimed that once they had the vaccine in their possession, he and his men would "walk the earth as Gods".

Guess not.

It looks like Ruskov got his hubris handed to him on a silver platter, courtesy of the last ship of the United States Navy. A word of advice to eh Ruskovs of the world--if you have the chance to sink the last US Navy warship you probably should do it because if you don't, they are going to hunt you down and Kick. Your. Ass!

Go on, admit it. It was kinda nice seeing this in the background, don't ya think?



All in all...

Wow. Just...wow. A great job by cast and crew. The whole episode was classic Michael Bay. Drama, action, suspense. A win in my book and to the people hell bent on pointing out errors in minor details just please...shut up. Just sit back and enjoy the damn thing. The cast did a fine job, the suspense was great, the action was awesome.

It would've been interesting to explore what might've happened if Sergei aka Sorenson (can we all agree here that the Sergei that Quincy had been talking to early on is in fact...Sorenson?) had breathed on Chandler or Tex and Rachel had been forced to try the vaccine on one of them, but the extraction team hit at that moment and the vaccine was destroyed, forcing them to get back to the ship in time to save the person who'd been injected. I know, I know. I wondered why Ruskov chose to use one of his own men but then again, I suspect he had more respect for his adversaries who, hate them as he might, were not afraid to go up against him, in contrast to his own crew, a bunch of mindless minions.

I was thrilled when Rachel announced a vaccine, I'll have to admit the reaction of the crew got to me too but...then when she claimed the ship's doc could manufacture the vaccine, I was like "WTF is this? I mean ...you work all this time to find it, you find this girl, she's immune, the monkey lives, and now...the ship's doc can simply reproduce?"


Cossetti's (Tommy Savas) death was sad but...predictable. In last week's recap I mentioned that his act of bravery and the chance to finally prove himself would ultimately cost him his life. Looks like I was right. How he went out, and his final scene wasn't quite the impact one might have hoped though the scene at the end, with Green carrying his body...was touching.Wish we'd had a chance to know this character better.

Oh and then there's Sorensen---my prediction is he isn't dead. He'll be picked up by another ship. The problem with this is...Sorensen is a carrier. No one around him would survive. Now, the only person who has seen Sorenson is Rachel and Quincy. Nobody on the ship has...and if he were somehow taken aboard the Nathan James without anyone knowing who he was...


In my opinion, the highlight of this episode was without question Adam Baldwin's XO Slattery taking command of the ship.

In the earliest episodes, Slattery was bucking authority, pushing Chandler, who pushed back and at one point demanded reaffirmation of his loyalty to the mission, which Slattery was shocked to hear was even necessary, though he gave it. After that we saw smooth sailing between the two. There is no question of the mutual respect between Chandler and Slattery and no doubt that Slattery is committed to his job and to the mission.  But we all knew there would come a time when Slattery was in charge and for a moment would be forced to ponder the question:

"What Would The Captain Do?"

Slattery made two moves that could have Chandler fired up. First, disobeying a direct order by sending the rescue team to find him and Tex in the ocean and second, when he sent in the extraction team to the Russian ship. These were very bold and dangerous decisions that could have cost them the mission. These were calculated risks and isn't Chandler used to that? This is a guy who faces risk head on with every mission and  intentionally inserts himself into dangerous situations which, if he were kidnapped or killed, would put the mission in jeopardy. And would he even do it if he thought Slattery couldn't handle things if it did happen?  Chandler takes all kinds of risks but I have to wonder if he can he handle someone else doing the same.

As to orders, it wasn't that long ago that Chandler punished Green and Foster for disobeying orders and putting the mission at risk. In fact, Slattery chastised Green on it as well. The question is will Slattery face the same? When the Captain was no longer in the capacity to give orders or command the ship, Slattery was the Commanding Officer and as such he had to make some tough decisions.Though Chandler may view it as disobeying orders, technically Slattery was the Commander and had the authority to do so.


That nonverbal exchange between Chandler and Slattery at the end of this episode had me wondering. That slight nod could've meant "good job" or it could've been a simple acknowledgment that he's back in command. We've yet to see the fallout from this and I feel that even though the end turned out okay for them, there has to be fallout. Early in the series I said let's not have a mutiny situation on our hands with Chandler vs. Slattery because in my opinion we need these two to make this show work however...I do like the idea of the two going head to head. There's only two options here, either this will go into something deeper or it's over and they move on and nothing comes of it. I for one, would like to see a little more out of this. Knowing Chandler, I don't think he can just let it go and knowing Slattery, if the CO pushes hard enough, he'll push back.

How will this turn of events affect CO & XO's working and personal relationship? How can they work together if Chandler is angry about Slattery's decisions?  Will Chandler be able to trust Slattery? Will this cause Slattery to hold a grudge against Chandler? They're already under an intense amount of stress as it is.

Or...am I overthinking this and really, it was nothing and they move on? 

This episode was a win. It had action, suspense, a little humor--everything I thought it would be.  And to the technical peeps out there whining on the discussion forums that some details are inaccurate, oh come off your high horse for pete's sake. Sure, they're probably are taking some liberties, but quit focusing on the little things and sit back and look at the big picture and enjoy the entertainment value here.

Finally, last but not least, in a much earlier recap in the season, I touched on the many facial expressions of Adam Baldwin's XO Slattery. There are drinking games in honor of it! The #SlatteryFace has now become popular in The Last Ship fandom. The people love it, they want it and who am I to stand in the way of what the people want?

And so here it goes...Enjoy!