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 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."


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 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.


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 guys helped spice up an otherwise dreary, hot summer and we can't wait to gear up for next season. 

See you in 2015! 


  1. No! RachelandTex RachelandTex RachelandTex....

  2. The way I saw the power plant thing: Mother Granderson's power plant is using a traditional fuel. It is simply doing double duty to destroy evidence.

    The only really cheesy thing was the cops taking over the ship. They really needed to show a rogue military unit doing that. But that was the only real flaw in an excellent episode. Alre Woodard did great as the "utopia justifies the means" megalomaniac.

  3. Wonderful recap!

    I’m wondering what exactly happened in the presidential bunker. In Phase Six we were led to believe that they likely all died from the virus. That is still likely of course, but now part of me is wondering if Granderson didn’t have a hand in their deaths. She claims she didn’t go with them because she didn’t feel it wise for the command structure to be in one location. To be fair it was a bad idea, after all having the entire chain of command (or what’s left) in one location is one of the biggest no-no’s there is right? Did she see it as an opportunity though?

    It will be interesting to see what happens in season 2. The storyline has so much potential. I agree on the show not having a Chandler/Rachel relationship. Relationships can make for good fan-fiction, but I feel it often ruins shows.