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.


  1. Hi). It's a BIG pleasure to read your reviews. I wish I'd speak english good enough to express my feelings on the matter...
    The show is just getting better. And this episode had enough of Slattery... finally))