Monday, August 24, 2015

The Last Ship: Valkyrie

Remember when...

"Murdock. I'm comin' to get you."

And he did? 
Umm, yeah. 

I'd say it's about damn time the USS Nathan James goes all Rambo on the Ramsey boys!

I'd say having a bad day was probably a major understatement here...

 "We got two more bodies coming out of the water, look like children.
We got a large craft fire. Dozens of folks still inside.
We need to find my daughter! Her name is Anabelle! Please! We can't find them! Their boat just blew up!
Please come quick! Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! It's bad.
Oh, man. Look what the Navy did to us."

"I ask you during this time of crisis and chaos to remember who we are as a people. This plague has killed many, but let's not let it divide us any longer. We are still one nation. Join us."

I can't believe they shot me in the ass!"

I. Can't. Even

"Today we grieve, but tomorrow, we do press on. We continue to answer the call, 'here I am.'"

"Rachel, thank you."

This episode was out of the ballpark! Where exactly is a person supposed to begin? I'm not going to go over every detail, you witnessed it. Magnificent! Here are some noteworthy moments!

Rachel & Chandler
Well that ice didn't stay frozen for long, did it? Did any of us really think that Chandler was going to stay pissed off at Rachel forever? He just lost four of his crew, they are facing insurmountable odds, and the last thing he needs is more stress. Just stop Cap'n, smell the roses and appreciate the fact that Rachel did far more good when she offed that son of a bitch a few eps ago. Can't we all just get along?

That oil rig scene.
Before I begin, did anyone else wonder how in hell that small boat armed with the RPG got that close to the oil rig without the Nathan James spotting it? in hell is a person supposed to handle that oil rig scene? I mean seriously, I was out of my chair screaming at my TV. (How is this different from any OTHER Sunday night?) You just got the feeling something bad was going to happen and that wasn't helped by Steven Kane's totally NOT cryptic tweet about there being a  lot of crying and shit during the filming of certain scenes in that ep. But really it was well-played with excellent timing and had the entire fandom doing a collective WHAT THE EVERLOVING HELL WAS THAT?!?! 

POTUS passes the test
Oh you Mark Moses....(she says shaking her finger) you're good. You had me believing there was a remote possibility you might not be on the level, even though I defended you to the world. Thankfully people, I can now say that I am off the "there's something shifty with POTUS" bandwagon because I didn't see any signs of it in this episode. So maybe it really was me, it's been known to happen. I'll admit I was pretty proud of that video that Michener did with Slattery. Very inspirational and perfectly Presidential.

If there wasn't a smartass comment in each episode, it'd be like a day without sunshine. I mean seriously, they shot him in the ass! Who of us wasn't rolling when he yelled that?  Oh wait...before we go on I need to discuss something with you all.

Look at Johnny's amazing what a face full of hair will do to a guy eh? He cleans up nicely which reminds me of the time I tried to get my 97-year old grandmother to watch House, M.D. and she refused because in her words, "he looks like a bum!" I tried to tell her the greatness she was missing out on but she'd have none of that. So my guess is she wouldn't have liked Tex either. You can't judge a great actor by his character's amount of facial hair or the disturbing lack of good grooming habits. But I digress...

Anyway, the great thing about Tex's character is the writers don't overdo it with him. They know just the right things for him to say at just the right moment to make it work. Tex isn't a talkative guy, he likes to sit back and watch things going on around him, so when he says something, it means something. His lines are so perfectly timed and in sync with the rest of what's going on around him. It's a tribute to good writing and good acting.

RIP Chung & Ravit
Uggh....that horrible scene when all the injured were in one room and they were desperately trying to keep Chung and Ravit alive. Granderson's mournful whines, Burk holding Ravit's hand. Talk about heartbreaking. We were warned this would be a tough episode and they were right. After the tragic deaths of Chung & Ravit, the only thing I could think of was which one, Burk or Wolf, was going to get vengeance. Of course then there's Garnett. Don't discount her, she can old her own when she's packing.

All in all it was a great episode. And you KNOW it's going to be a great episode when four minutes into the episode you're already on a tirade. Which I was. Four minutes. I think that's a record.

Anyway, I cried. I mean. Really. Cried. And my cats cried too. But mostly I think that was because Marissa didn't offer to share any of her snacks with them. I explained it's difficult to do that when Aunt Marissa is on the OTHER COAST! (You hear that Marissa? We need to work on virtual reality snacks for Peepers, Pebbles, and Baby Kitty!)

So where were we? I cried. Then I was pissed.

Poor Wolf, Ravit was like a sister to him. He'd die for her. And Burk, he cared about her too and felt a connection deeper than friendship. Dammit, I should've prepared myself because experience has taught me showrunners can be evil SOBs when they want to be! 

And then we need to talk about something else....YOU MADE BURK CRY!

Didn't we discuss that a few recaps ago? About how under no circumstances were you to make Burk cry? I mean Burk has this face, when he's stunned or sad, and you can't help but want to give him a hug and say "it's okay man, you're gonna be okay."

And you went and did it anyway. That poor guy. That's okay...I can't wait to see him get it out of his system when he and Wolf take on the Ramsey boys. And they will. Oh. Yes.

Now, did I miss anything? OMG yeah. I'd have to say that as much as Tex seems to win MVP awards week after week, this week's goes to Chandler. Hands. Down. Now you don't even have to ask why because you already know.

"So I created Valkyrie to help expose the truth behind the plague."
"The truth? Well, shit. You got it all figured out. But you forgot the most important part of the conspiracy--
the only way we were able to spread the flu so quickly...
The aliens.
From planet batshit crazy.
They were sneezing all over the place."

LOOK AT ANDY! Isn't he just adorable.


There, it's out of my system. I'm biased, Andy's my buddy, a great guy, funny, sassy and full of life. So I'm going to just say that I will miss the shit out of Chung but I've still got Andy so it's all good.

Now about that batshit crazy thing. It was beautiful. Well-played sir. Chandler's facial expressions, his tone of voice, the dialogue....I laughed so hard.

So we're about to learn more about Valerie and her Valkyrie project. I like that she got to see the truth about the crew of the Nathan James. She's got something to offer them (as did Rachel) and she's the one who can help save them (as did Rachel). I like Valerie, she's smart and quick-witted. I think she and Rachel will either get along great because they're alike or they'll hate each other because they're alike. We're about to find out.

I've saved the best for last because just when I thought I'd seen it all, I realized I hadn't...
"See this? Come here. My manifesto...We're like Moses and Aaron.
The people are following us, and the seas are parting at our feet."

Oh this was just too good to pass up.  Not only has Sean penned a fucking manifesto but now they're "Biblical." I was laughing so hard. And Ned's reaction to his brother, he's so annoyed. It was great. Moses and Aaron. Parting the red sea.  Beautiful guys, don't ever change!

One more thing....there is a disturbing lack of Slattery in these recent eps. Now don't get me wrong, he kicks ass in every scene he's in but Slattery is a commanding presence and it would be awesome if he got more screen time. In fact, I'll go a step further, keep CHANDLER on the Nathan James a bit and have him send SLATTERY out with the tactical team!  Imagine the greatness of Slattery leading the team on the ground in a hostile situation. He's a cop, if ANYONE can do it, HE can!

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Last Ship: Friendly Fire

First things first.

My stance during the entire investigation!


"I know that nothing makes sense to you right now, Rachel and I know that you're angry.
Use that anger to change things, to fight for something you believe in."

"There's no sex on the ship."

"I do know this. Wouldn't be one on the ship would be here if not for you.
So, me? I wouldn't change a thing about you.
Oh, you're ruthless, baby. That's why we're alive today."
"Sir, from what Miller and O'Connor reported, the crew not only suspects Niels was murdered, 
they also believe senior leadership condoned it or even ordered it."

"You summoned me."

"So if you're planning on doing what I think you are, 
I suggest you do it soon, before they lock you out of the lab."

"Did you do it?"

"I looked into the eyes of the monster who stole everything that I held dear to me and I thought, 'I'm gonna take the lungs of the man who nearly destroyed the human race, and I'm gonna use those lungs to save it.'  I didn't have to kill him to make the breakthrough. I could have got exactly what I needed and spared his life. But as I witnessed that virus do to him what it did to so many, as I watched his last, noxious breath leave his body, all I could think of was that he died too quickly."

"All hands, man your battle stations."

"As a commander in the United States Navy, I'm not authorized to sentence you for your crimes at sea. But if we ever find a safe place to make port, I will turn you over to civilian authorities, 
and you will answer for your crime."

Oy vey!

I can't even tell you how many times I shouted that during this episode. In fact, this episode had me yelling and screaming to the point my cats are ready to move in with Marissa now! (Marissa do you hear this? Make room!)

I get the need for law and order especially aboard a military vessel but given who Niels is and what he's done to the world and who Rachel is and what she's done for the world, you'd think they'd just say fuck it and give her a pass. I mean who gives a flying rat's ass about Niels? I don't think if you asked any of the five billion people he killed if they were concerned, that they'd utter a peep. Of course, they're dead so it's not like they can say anything anyway... LOL!

Anyway, Chandler couldn't let it go and so they conducted an investigation, took statements, gathered evidence and wrote reports. And in the end, all leads pointed to Rachel.

Sometimes I hate that the Libra in me sees both sides of an issue. Dammit. I see Chandler's POV, after all in a civilized society you've got to have rules and order. And even though civilized society has gone to hell, we're talking about a military vessel where civilized is still the order of the day and in order to do their job and be above reproach, they've got to abide by a strict set of rules. That's especially true in times of crisis and catastrophe.  That said, we're talking about Niels fucking Sorenson---the guy who killed five billion people and I so see Rachel's point...quite clearly.

Chandler struggles with his heart vs. his head.  His heart probably says "good riddance to that motherfucker" but his head is all Navy and it tells him that law and order must prevail. And boy you can tell he's pissed off at Rachel for putting him in that position. For Tom Chandler the world is black and white, there is no gray. Gray means compromise. There is no compromise on a Navy warship. In order for Chandler to command that ship, he has to have the respect of his crew. They must believe in him and be willing to follow him to the ends of the earth. He can't compromise his ideals....not even for the woman who as Slattery calls it, "is the cure".

What makes Rachel tick?
Rachel's an interesting character. I like to know what makes her tick, what's behind her resolve and determination. She's sacrificed a personal life for her work. There's a reason for that. And now we finally get a real glimpse into Rachel and why she's the way she is. She watched her mother die because her father didn't believe in the medicine. The flashbacks were perfectly interwoven in the episode right where they belonged and it was great. Rachel is a scientist and her devotion to the cure goes right back to her mother's illness. Of course she'd stop at nothing to prevent unnecessary deaths. Of course Niels likely reminded her of her father, who played God, preventing her mother from receiving the lifesaving treatment.

If there as an MVP for this ep, it'd have to be Tex.
Could Tex be any more adorable? That moment when he visited Rachel was beautiful. Rachel needs a friend and right now she has just one--Tex. She could tell him anything right now and he'd keep her secret.  He knows what to say and when and that moment he basically thanked her for saving him, the crew, the rest of the world. He believes too that she is responsible for saving mankind. And damn she needed to hear that. Tex has faith in her that at times I don't think she has in herself. Tex is the kind of guy who, once he's on your side, he's on your side for life. I feel like something more will come of this. It may wind up pitting Tex against Chandler, I don't know, but I feel like Tex is always going to be in Rachel's corner. Tex, like Rachel isn't military, he doesn't abide by military codes, but he has his own code and one of his codes is loyalty and he is extremely loyal to Rachel. I think now she realizes that. She's going to be a very lonely person onboard this ship in the episodes to come and I think it'll be Tex that saves her from it all.

Ravit & Burk.
These two. I don't even know what to say except WTF was that we witnessed? Now I'm not one for throwing romantic interludes in on this show but what's going on between them is hilarious.  I don't know where this is going but it's certainly entertaining.

Prepare for battle.
That whole battle scene. Hello? Seriously well done. These guys know how to keep you on the edge of your seat. I was shouting. There was cursing. There was upward movement out of my recliner.

That means it was a damn great scene.

Chandler yelled "FIRE!" and the hair stands up on the back of my neck. The five inch rotates and I'm like YEAH BABY!  I can't help it, when the Nathan James goes into battle mode I'm like OH HELL TO THE FUCK YEAH!

On Michener, okay maybe it's just me.
Dammit why can't I let this go? Am I the only one, when toward the end of the episode when Chandler asked Michener if he knew who might be behind the Valkyrie thing, Michener just had this weird look on his face? Does he know something? Again, you know from past recaps, I love Michener, I think he's the real deal. But that look on his face just gave me the impression he does know something. Does anyone else sense that? Or am I crazy here?

Final thoughts.
All in all, I thought this was an excellent episode, including some Emmy worthy moments there. You really really have to love the way this crew comes together to battle the enemy. It's like a well-oiled machine.  You can't help but feel proud watching them kick enemy ass.

I'm curious to see how things play out for Rachel. How many friends will she have, other than Tex?

That final scene between Rachel and Tom was in a sense, heartbreaking. They'd come to a mutual respect and admiration for one another. They'd become friends. And can Chandler respect or befriend someone who clearly doesn't share his ideals? Clearly he feels she disrespected him and his job, not to mention every sailor aboard the Nathan James. When she killed Niels she killed what respect she had from him, from nearly everyone. It was a very sad moment. You know this can't last forever but I wonder what will have to happen for her to gain his respect again.

Shout out to the cast and crew for another great job. I'm really looking forward to next week's episode because now it's truly the Nathan James vs. the rest of the world. Everyone thinks they're the bad guy. They have to get their hands on the Ramsey brothers in order to save themselves...and the world.

But what will they sacrifice to do this?

Sunday, August 09, 2015

The Last Ship: Uneasy Lies the Head

I could just sum up the entire episode with the ending
but that would be boring wouldn't it?

Not yet ready for primetime.

"You ready to meet the crew?"
"What exactly is expected of me? Am I to make battle decisions?"
"You'll be consulted on relevant matters, anything that falls under the executive branch or anything
pertaining to national security Which, given the circumstances, touches about everything."

Who ya gonna call? Yep, Jeter!

"He's not ready - Not yet, at least."
"He's come a long way in a short time, Sir."
"And I want you to get him the rest of the way there. Be his guide, his preacher, his father, his friend -
Whatever he needs."

"Aye, Sir."

"Bernie Cowley, culinary specialist second class. I'm happy to prepare anything for you."
"Gosh, um, I don't know. What did you have for lunch?"
"Oh, you don't want my diet, Mr. President. Nothing but grilled 
vegetables as of yet. But for you, name it."
"Well, uh, let me see."
"Uh I got prime rib, chicken cordon bleu."
"Well, it, uh, it all sounds so so very good. I just I don't know where to start."

If anyone can have a "come to Jesus" meeting with POTUS, it's Jeter.

"I'm walking around a ship full of 20-year-olds who know exactly what they're doing at all times,
on a mission to save a country that's barely recognizable."
"And me, Mr. President, I can't figure out what to eat for lunch."
"Leaders aren't born. They're made. And we all believe in you, Sir. Just give yourself time."

This guy...and his grilled cheese sandwich! Can he run in 2016?

"I may drop by the combat center to watch for myself, if, uh, that's all right."
"Of course, Mr. President. "Anything else, Sir?"
"The intel you found at the White House I'd like you to bring it to me, along with
any debriefs related to the immunes."

"Absolutely, Mr. President."

Time for a plan!  
"This is good work but if we're gonna win this war, we need a plan."

Ravit can hold her own.
"All right, sweetheart, what's the worst you ever seen?"
"You call me "sweetheart" again, I'll make you eat that pathetic pair of nines you're holding."
"I was stationed in the west bank for three years, another two in Gaza. Thought I'd seen everything, then this pandemic broke out and I thought, maybe now we have this common enemy. We even have this cure that we want to give to people. Maybe, just maybe, we'll stop killing each other. But nothing's changed. It's all the same."

Aww dad do I have to???

"I know he's a snake, but if he can help, you have to talk to him."


"What about Anthrax, you know? It's strong enough to survive for decades in any environment."
"One epidemic at a time, Niels."

OHNOHEDIDNT! Niels insults Rachel's choice in men. 
"Never got around to changing the screen saver? He is a handsome fellow, no?
Doesn't really seem like your type, though. Not much going on upstairs. I suspect that you tired of him quickly. You see, I remember this about you. Dr. Rachel Scott, always the smartest person in the room,the unstoppable force in search of her immovable object. Am I right?"

Thinking he's about to get lucky. Oh Niels you have no idea.

"Do you ever get lonely?"
"God, I know my situation isn't nearly as difficult, but There are sometimes on this ship, well,
no one who understands me and this unsolvable puzzle and now, being so close to the very mind that created it. Perhaps you were right. Perhaps my immovable object is closer than I thought."

 But Rachel's like "I don't thinks so fuckbrain."

Hell hath no fury. 

"The gene would be liberated, and the virus would explode out of your lungs and into the rest of your body, and, well (she says with a chuckle) there's just so much of it."

Ahhhh....where to begin?

The highlights of this episode were definitely the scenes with Michener and Niels/Rachel. With all due respect, the kids felt a bit like filler so I'm skipping that completely. Though perhaps it was important for us to see how the impact of the virus has affected them, I just didn't "feel it" in this episode.  

Early on I laughed when Chandler convinced Rachel to talk to Niels. If I'm Rachel, the moment I found out that scum-sucking bastard was on board the ship, I'm plotting revenge on his grotesque rogue malingering feeble-minded amalgamation of loathsome repulsiveness ass. Now I get that Chandler wanted Rachel to suck it up solely for the purpose of getting answers out of him but seriously....he killed five billion people, including her friend and mentor. 

Who could've possibly thought this would end well for Niels?

Oh Niels, Niels, fucking egotistical maniacal narcissistic Niels. You're ego is so fucking huge that you honestly thought you had a shot with Rachel? Oh hell, she probably could've handled that you're a complete asshole but it's just a wee bit difficult to get past the fact that YOU KILLED FIVE BILLION PEOPLE! 

Rachel is generally peaceful and private but she's held her anger for a long time. She doesn't talk much about herself and we've often wondered what goes on inside her head. As a scientist she's very focused...solely on the task at hand--the science. It's what makes her the best in her field and what makes her suck at relationships. 

When she killed Niels, it was cold. It was calculated. It was extreme. It was beautiful. It wasn't like her at all, she's a woman who saves lives, not takes them. But she'd hit her breaking point. This act done in such a calm and rational manner shows us a side of Rachel we did not know existed--her human side. And a human being can only hold that kind of rage for so long. I just wonder how she'll feel the morning after. 

Also, who am I going to hate now that Niels is gone? 

I guess there's always the Ramseys but they aren't nearly enough fun to hate!

Ravit is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I wasn't sure if her addition to the cast would fit but it does. She adds as fresh a dimension as Tex did when he came onboard. Ravit proves that she is one of the guys and can definitely hold her own. She's a woman of steel, somewhat emotionally untouchable but her shell is cracking a bit and we get to see her sense of humor and her softness. She has seen so much death and destruction throughout her life but it doesn't mean she's immune to its effects. As we saw from her interaction with Burk, she hurts too. She's seen too much, she's angry and bitter. And rightly so. 

Charles Parnell's CMC Russ Jeter reminds me of my good Vince, retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard. Vince is a man of strong faith, loved and respected by all who know him. He's rational and calm and a source of inspiration for many. Well Jeter is that kind of man too. Most have no idea about his troubled past, but his natural leadership, his calmness and rationale earn him a great deal of respect among the crew and especially Slattery and Chandler, who count on Jeter to be their liaison with the crew, not to mention keep up the spirits and morale of all aboard. It's a big job but Jeter does it effortlessly. One can only wonder how it affects him inside when he takes on the troubles of others and the burden of helping them get through their own tough times. His latest to help mold Jeffrey Michener into a person of strength, courage, and determination. We know Michener has these qualities, we saw them in that brief clip of his confirmation hearings. He just needs to find it again and with Jeter's help, he will.

Umm...excuse me but did anyone else scream "FUCK YEAH!" when Michener said "We need a plan."? I mean that was a beautiful moment, people!

He's come a long way hasn't he? I mean the poor guy couldn't even figure out what to eat! 

At first we didn't like him because he was a mindless puppet of the Ramsey regime. Then we wondered if he'd "man up" when taken aboard the Nathan James. It was a little embarrassing seeing the most powerful man in the world scramble for the safety of his indoctrination video when he was left alone in the previous episode followed by what we thought was the coward's way out when he attempted suicide. The man we thought was weak, really isn't, it's just his enormous burden of guilt took over as we discovered in the form of an Emmy-worthy, gut-wrenching, tear jerking (admit it men, you cried too!) confession.  Who of us wasn't proud of him at the end of the previous episode when he decided to move forward? Michener isn't just a beacon of hope for America, he's a beacon of hope for the entire world. 

That's a pretty big responsibility.

Now Chandler's trust of Michener has been chastised by some reviewers because he hasn't told the crew of the Nathan James any specific details about the Immunes yet. Well, either Michener was privy to inside information or he wasn't. If he was, he's playing a hell of a game here because nobody suspects and surely if anyone did surely it'd be Slattery. It's also entirely possibly Michener wasn't privy to details. I mean it wouldn't be good strategy for the Ramsey brothers to let him in on everything, not just yet anyway, or maybe not at all. Guys like the Ramsey brothers like control and they're not likely to just hand it over to anyone. The more people you let into the loop, the more chances someone will let something slip and the plan for world domination will fail. 

While I was initially skeptical about Michener and wondered if he isn't still brainwashed and playing them, I'm going with my gut here and stating emphatically for the record, I think he's the real deal.

In conclusion, this was a pretty good episode. The performances by Mark Moses, Rhona Mitra and Ebon Moss-Bachrach were fabulous. I expected nothing less.

That final scene with Rachel & Niels was so perfectly orchestrated. I knew something was coming, I mean there was no way you could put those two in a room together and something NOT happen, but damn I did not expect that. It was perfect---Niels dying from the cure to the virus that, through him, killed so many, and all the while Rachel remained cool, calm, collected, and with a chuckle--maintaining her composure while routinely securing her lab rats, taking off her gloves, and not a single hint of what was coming until BAM!  

And then we have Michener, overcoming his fears to be the man everyone thinks he can be. Like Jeter said, leaders are are not born, they are made, and right now we are seeing the making of a real leader and not just leader of America but of the entire world. Sure it might seem a little cheesy this whole America as a beacon of hope, right? 

Maybe...but it works!

How many thousands of my poorest subjects
Are at this hour asleep! O sleep, O gentle sleep,
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frightened thee, 
That thou no more will weigh my eyelids down,
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee,
And hush'd with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber, 
Than in the perfum'd chambers of the great,
Under the canopies of costly state,
And lull'd with sound of sweetest melody?
O thou dull god, why liest thou with the vile
In loathsome beds, and leav'st the kingly couch 
A watch-case or a common 'larum-bell?
Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast
Seal up the ship-boy's eyes, and rock his brains
In cradle of the rude imperious surge,
And in the visitation of the winds, 
Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
Curling their monstrous heads, and hanging them
With deafing clamour in the slippery clouds,
That with the hurly death itself awakes?
Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose 
To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude;
And in the calmest and most stillest night,
With all appliances and means to boot,
Deny it to a king? Then, happy low, lie down!
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.  

William Shakespeare 
Henry IV, Part II, Act III, Scene I

Monday, August 03, 2015

The Last Ship: Safe Zone

The Truth Shall Set You Free

 A Tale of Two Jeffreys

Meet Jeffrey Michener, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Cool, calm, collected. He is viewed as strong and confident, a man of the people.

Now meet Jeffrey Michener, President of the United States. Afraid, ashamed, controlled, and a puppet.

While Chandler believes there's hope for Michener, XO doesn't share his sentiment.

"Yeah, well, in my mind, if he doesn't walk out of that room committed
to our cause by sunrise tomorrow, we'll never convince our crew he's worthy of being followed."

Despite everything, Chandler refuses to give up.

"The national interest is saving what's left of this country.
Sean Ramsey and our movement give the country the best chance of that."
I'd agree it's a bit difficult to change a man who believes in a Master Race. But Michener is the President and he's the last best hope America has to come back from the apocalypse.

Which is why it's so important to save this man. But can he even be saved?  This is a man haunted by something pretty horrific.

Is there a role Mark Moses can't play with utter perfection? Umm...NO!

But is it too late?

"Godammit! What have you done?"

XO and CO still not seeing eye to eye on this...

"He's gonna save the day?"
"He's the President. That's still gonna mean something to people."

Finally, a breakthrough. A pretty significant game-changer.
"I killed my daughters....with my own bare hands. I smothered them in their sleep."

"You were the one who was supposed to protect everybody!"

Which led to this...
After a soul cleansing the two men have come to terms.
Looking at those pictures of Washington and Lincoln, Michener knows he has big shoes to fill.

And this...

"I'm grateful to you, Captain. I think just about anyone else would've given up on me."

And eventually, this...

I cried. Even my cats cried. What a moment.

There's not much snark nor are there many screencaps this week because this was a somber episode with a lot of depth and a lot of darkness.

Sure, Michener drank the Kool-Aid and that calls for a sincere "WTF WAS HE THINKING?" but we find that he had a pretty damn good reason for drowning himself in it. Michener bears a terrible burden of guilt, far beyond what any of us could've imagined and while we poked fun at him in the beginning and chastised him for his whackjob beliefs, once we saw his humanity, his vulnerability and learned the truth, everything changed.

As it should.

Everybody has a story. Once you learn it, it changes everything, often for the better. It really is true that the truth shall set you free.

All in all, Safe Zone was a very good episode. It was free of the action of last week but that's okay. The show has, since early on, found a nice balance in knowing when to initiate action and when to pull back. This episode was deep and full of emotion. I for one appreciate the change in pace. From the comments on social media, most of the fandom does too.

Last night's scenes were all about Chandler and Michener and poignant performances were given by both Eric Dane and Mark Moses.

"He's a soldier. He wants someone to salute to."

Chandler, while a strong leader who exerts authority, commands respect and maintains a firm-but-fair leadership style, is also a career Navy man trained to follow orders. He is a man who, even if he does not agree, respects the authority of his superiors. When they give orders, his job is to carry them out until the mission is complete. That's easy when there's an established chain of command. However, since the virus wiped out most of his chain of command, leaving the nation essentially leaderless,  Chandler has taken on the burden of establishing missions and making decisions which normally would've been left to Admirals and the President---on his own. He's been doing his best to stay afloat, making this whole thing up as he goes along and though he's done a pretty good job to date, he could not have gone on like that indefinitely.  No, Tom Chandler isn't a politician, a dealmaker, or negotiator. He's intelligent, tactical, calculating, and analytical. Give him a mission and tell him to carry it out and he will do that, expertly. That's what he's trained to do.

You made Chandler cry. 

Nobody makes Tom Chandler cry, well at least not till now. Remember when Garnett and Chandler were in her quarters and she told him that her entire family was dead and how she leaned into him and cried but he didn't even flinch? Yes, you could tell his heart broke for her but he could not allow himself to cry, to show any emotion. He had to remain a man in control and for good reason. Regardless of what happened to his crew, their families, someone had to remain in control of the situation, he could never allow himself to get too close, to show any weakness or vulnerability. His crew must see him in a certain light, always. It's about respect and his ability to command effectively. He must appear....unbreakable to his crew.

"We've all done things that are hard to live with."

A pandemic makes strange bedfellows doesn't it? Here we have Chandler and Michener, who are united in their pain and their guilt.

Michener is tortured by having brought his infected son into a safe zone, an action which was done purely out of love and the instinct to protect his child, but which resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent people, including his own wife and daughters, the latter by his own hand. 

Chandler feels an enormous amount of guilt for not being able to protect his wife and children. Though he knows his mission is important he lives with the guilt of leaving his children behind with their grandfather, who has a heart condition. He also takes personally every life that has been lost during his mission, even if it wasn't caused directly by him or his crew. I think Chandler views inaction as devastating as action. Remember in season one there were an awful lot of innocent people infected with the virus that the crew could not help because their mission was to find the cure? Remember that island full of people they rode past on that boat? You can bet those faces haunt Tom Chandler in his sleep. Even though there was nothing Chandler and his crew could've done to save those people, it doesn't alleviate the guilt he feels from not trying to ease their suffering.

"So let this be your redemption, if it needs to be, because it might be mine."

Chandler's instinct told him he was right, that Michener was in fact, a man who could be redeemed. It almost didn't happen but thank goodness Chandler listened to Jeter, his voice of reason. He made Chandler realize that the way to get through to Michener was by being honest and sincere. It was heartfelt advice that worked. Two men tortured with unbelievable pain and guilt, whose hearts and souls were wounded beyond repair, found themselves on the path of redemption and perhaps even forgiveness, from each other and more importantly from themselves. 

President Jeffrey Michener has the chance to redeem himself by being Presidential, taking on the duties of his office and becoming the leader that is surely within him. Michener has the chance to change history by bringing America back from the edge of extinction. He has the opportunity to preserve freedom and democracy and American ideals. Chandler believes in him and hopefully the crew will believe in him too. Beyond that, it's extremely important that Michener believe in himself because if he does, then the American people will follow.

As to Chandler, the mission of the Nathan James will be to protect the President and assist him as he instills a new government and begins the process of rebuilding America. The crew of the Nathan James is instrumental in this as they are the only individuals who can be trusted with his safety and carrying out his commands. Meanwhile, Chandler does not have to be the one to make all the decisions anymore. Of course it'll be difficult for Michener at first and he will be advised by Chandler and Slattery, but ultimately the decisions will be his, taking the pressure off Chandler, who can begin to focus on what he's been trained to do---carry out, not create, his missions. The sooner these missions are carried out, the sooner America will be rebuilt, meaning the sacrifices Chandler made, losing his wife, being separated from his children, will not have been in vain. And he can return home a proud man.

So, what's next?

I'd say Michener will be around the rest of the season and he has much work to do to learn how to be properly "Presidential". There's no way in hell Chandler will let the President out of their sight until they've been able to take down the radicals and form the new government. To do this, they need to build a trust with the American people and then provide enough security to keep the new President safe. As long as there are radicals out there who believe themselves chosen by God, the President will not be safe. Meanwhile, Chandler will need to figure out a way to get across to the American people that their leader is still very much alive and well and fully capable of carrying out his duties as President. They'll also have to convince the people that the President and the Nathan James are on the side of good.

That will not be an easy task, not by any means.