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!
 

Sunday, August 03, 2014

The Last Ship: SOS


In this episode, the crew picks up a distress call from a young girl, the sole survivor of a ship near Jamaica. Chandler assembles a team to stage a rescue attempt but a surprise attack by the Russians leaves Chandler and Tex stranded. Slattery leads the crew on a search hoping to find them before the Russians do. All hell breaks loose. Did I mention there are Russians involved? Yes, that smarmy bastard Ruskov is back. Hang on for the ride, it's going to be great!


Before I jump in, let me just say that I believe Tom Chandler hails from the James T. Kirk School of Leadership because well....if you've ever seen the original Star Trek you know what I'm talking about. If not, I can only help you by directing you here. You decide for yourself.


"Turns out it's a human gene."

Well, shit. Rachel makes a horrifying discovery that's about to set her progress back significantly especially given she's only got two monkeys left. How the hell did that human gene get in there in the first place? Well we know don't we? Sergei. And we can assume from what Rachel said about the human gene making the virus worse that there may have been a chance of containment and treatment for the original strain. Sergei's actions have me wondering about something--was he doing that research for mankind or was it self-serving? Did he seem all that concerned when his wife showed signs of illness? And speaking of that, we discovered in this episode that Sergei infected his wife, who in turn, may be the one who infected millions of people in Great Britain, Germany, and Italy during her travels.


"This does not feel right." 

Well XO you got that right. Every time Slattery gets a feeling about something, he's usually right. He made "the face" too and when XO makes "the face" you know he's on to something! He did not want to answer that call, he did not want to send that team out but the Captain insisted especially knowing the young girl on board could be the key to a vaccine. And who is going to tell Tom Chandler what he can and can't do? Anyone here think Slattery could've talked him out of it? No. By the way, Chandler disguising himself as a fisherman...even Slattery had to agree with that one. Come on people, our Captain is no fool.


"You're a leader. Lead."


Wise words by XO Slattery and we definitely want to see more of Green stepping up to the plate but the way it was done with Cossetti...in front of Chandler just didn't feel right. I believe Green was sincere with Cossetti and I believe he wants to be a better leader but for the point to hit home with Cossetti, this was an interaction best done in private.

And then there was this:   "You gotta bring it."  

Really? If I was supposed to feel that, I didn't. Nothing against Travis Van Winkle, it was the dialogue that just seemed off. I think about what my Lt. would've said to me. Of course it was the eighties and the phrase "bring it" wasn't even born yet. My Lt. was a very firm but fair guy.  He probably would've said something like "Clackum! Get your head OUT of your ass and do your goddamned job!"

Trust me, it's simple. It's no nonsense. It's effective.

Later, Green does a reasonably good job of counseling Cossetti. He makes the point that they spend all that time training for the worst and then when it happens and you can't do anything, you're left haunted by thoughts of "what could I have done differently?"  We've all had those moments. It's tough.

As to Cossetti, he has a long way to go to prove himself after having caused such strife and nearly causing a mutiny. Fortunately for him, he showed real remorse and regret and there's some potential here for him to prove himself. In the back of my mind though, I can't help but think that the way this will go down will be in the form of an act of bravery that will cost him his life.


"Please tell me that was some kind of a code."


Nope Tex, 'fraid it wasn't. Chandler really did tell the crew to "ride off into the sunset" without him. That man and his neverending heroic charm is going to be the death of me...of all of us. Seriously? Chandler is the consummate leader, willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good. His last hurrah speech was touching but...okay, no it wasn't. I was left shouting, "WTF? Don't you dare tell them to "ride off into the sunset!! You stand and fight, man!"

Okay, okay, that's just a little hard to do in the middle of the ocean. But still...

I liked how Tex called the Captain out on his decision but the whole "THEY NEED YOU!" should've been replaced with "YOU ASSHOLE! WHAT THE HELL DID YOU JUST DO?"

Chandler is a lead by example kind of guy but his decisions to put himself in the middle of harm's way (James T. Kirk, James T. Kirk) actually endanger his entire crew and the mission. His job is to command that ship. Kinda hard to do that if you're hopping from vessel to vessel killing bad guys and rescuing people now can you Cap'n? The problem is...the show would be boring if Chandler wasn't out there getting himself into a world of shit, right?

Now let's talk about who's in charge since the Captain is treading water in the middle of the Atlantic. That's right...Slattery!  And fortunately for us, XO doesn't give a shit about the "cease and desist" direct order as he intentionally disregards and begins searching for them.

Did anyone think he'd do anything different?

Slattery is sure that the Captain's words were code and discusses it with Barker who insists otherwise. Barker insists that the Captain would, if the situation was reversed, leave his men behind. (With all due respect, Barker clearly doesn't know Chandler the way Slattery knows him.).  Slattery clearly disagrees with Barker. It's a damn good thing he does too.

By the way is XO going to be pulling double duty for disobeying orders when Chandler returns? Just recalling his earlier convo with Green where he said, "It's not enough that people know you broke the rules, they need to know why breaking the rules is dangerous."     Hmm...


"Way to go Nathan James!"

I confess I get all giddy when the USS Nathan James blows things up. So any time they want to blow up something that belongs to the Russians, I'm okay with that. There was no way in hell I could write about this episode without including this...a lovely sight isn't it?  Buh-bye Russian drone!


"I'm sweet on her."

Oh Tex, you're adorable, don't ever change. By the way did you know Tex isn't really from Texas? He's from Reno. But Reno wouldn't have been much of a nickname now would it? It certainly wouldn't have been a hit with the ladies.

Now here these two are, floating in the middle of the damn ocean, twenty or more miles from a reef, no hope of rescue and to lighten the mood, Tex reveals his crush on Rachel. The exchange is hilarious, it really is. I loved it. I also laughed because uh...wasn't it a couple of weeks ago that Tex was hitting on anything and everything closely resembling female? In all seriousness though, we know that Tex cares about her and not just in the physical sense either. He's been there to offer her some real comfort and friendship when she needed it most. He's part of the reason her tough facade is melting away little by little.


"You wanna know something. The 
only reason I came out here today is to impress that Doctor Rachel."

"You gotta be shittin' me."

"Yeah I'm sweet on her. You weren't making a move."

"Oh my Lord."

"You think she's interested?"

"Get some rest Tex. Jesus."

"Hey opposites attract." 


The laughter didn't last long.  As soon as the skies darkened and the prospect of rescue seemed even more unlikely, that's when the fear hit both of them, especially Chandler who revealed another piece of himself that makes him so endearing and likeable. This tough guy admits...he's afraid to die but not because he's afraid of death but because he will never get to see his wife and kids again.


Screw everything else, get to what happened at the end, now!

I'm just going to skip everything else because the best was saved for last. First, this compilation of screenshots of the crew in the comms...


Excellent job panning across the room to get the reactions of all the crew as they waited anxiously to see if the helo found their men. And the music...the music was perfect as was the lighting. More on that later.


"Yeah!!!"



And then THIS fuckery happened!



I. Can't. Even!

I was...blindsided. I failed to see this coming. And when I realized what happened I was shouting "OMG! OMG! OMG!" at the television followed by "YOU SON OF A BITCH!" and my notifications timeline on Twitter was rolling so fast I couldn't even keep up with it, and my cats were zooming around the house like wild animals, coyotes were baying loudly outside, thunder rolled....you get the picture. It was all-out general mayhem I tell you!

An hour later I was still thinking about it...my reaction:  "I can't believe they did that!"  After which the cast and crew of The Last Ship patted themselves on the back for a job well done. And rightly so!



All in all...

I was floored by that ending and the preview of things to come. It opens up a whole new ballgame. I mean this shit just got real!

Overall, it was a good episode with enough action to get me shouting at my television quite often.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the interactions between Tex and Chandler, Rachel and Bertrise, Slattery and Green and Slattery and well...everyone else. Also, do not sell Ravil Isyanov short because the reason we all hate Ruskov so much is because Isyanov is just that good. 

I absolutely adore Hope Olaide Wilson's "Bertrise". This newcomer to the show is a lovely young woman, orphaned after losing her entire family and forever traumatized by having experienced living through so much violent death. Her scenes with Rhona Mitra were incredibly touching and I'm really looking for ward to more of her on the show. That final scene between the women, when Bertrise smiled. I smiled too. Could she be the one who saves mankind? If it's her or Sergei, I choose her. But only time will tell. 

I can't help but wonder what's going to happen to Tex? He's become a beloved character and I think Rachel might actually like him. If they kill him off, and let's face it, someone is going to have to die to shake things up a bit, it's going to hurt. Everyone likes Tex and especially Rachel because I believe she's bonded with him. Besides Quincy and now the young Jamaican girl, they're the only civilians on board and they don't fit in with everyone else. Rachel already seems a hard person, emotionally speaking, she's apparently lost people she's cared about in the past. Remember Quincy alluded to her coldness. Even though she hasn't known him that long, Tex's death would affect her dramatically as he has been her supporter since day one.

From the preview of next week's episode, we know Chandler will be taken prisoner by the Russians. They will demand an exchange for Rachel. If Chandler talks to Slattery he will order him not to do an exchange. Slattery.... well...he's commanding the ship now and when it comes down to trading Rachel for the Captain, what will he do? The mission is about the greater good and that means you don't trade the scientist creating the vaccine that can save the world. That said, Slattery will not leave a man behind.

Whatever Slattery's decision, it's a losing situation. The only alternative is to engage the Russians in battle. I'd be okay with that. Firefights on this show are awesome and I highly encourage them especially if it results in Ruskov getting his ass kicked. There is no way Slattery is going to trade Rachel, nor is he going to allow the Russians to kill Chandler. That is not who he is.

I'm so looking forward to seeing this because you just know that Eric Dane, Adam Baldwin and Ravil Isyanov are going to well---bring it. (Yes, I went there!)

In closing, I'd love to see more beefing up of dialogue and scenes for supporting players. Make what they say count and make what they don't say count even more. As an example I recall Marissa Neitling's scene with Eric Dane last week when Chandler chastised Foster for her actions. She hardly said a word, her expression conveyed it all. I thought it was well done.You can do a lot with so few words. Quality over quantity. Any day.

And on a technical note, I'm giving a kudos to the music and lighting effects. The use of red and blue light on the ship is incredibly effective adding to the drama and suspense. The combination of music and visual effects is perfect. Please keep those up!


Final final thought...

When I feel that my ass needs to be thoroughly kicked, Adam Baldwin always comes through.
 
"I swear to god, if you are lying to me I will strap you to a torpedo."



Was there a single person out there watching who thought for even one moment that he would not do it?