Monday, June 29, 2015

The Last Ship: It's Not A Rumor

“We’ve all waited a long time for this day to come. It’s here.”

There was no shouting at the television or dropping the f-bomb. Okay well maybe it happened just once.  Actually, there were more tears than anything else. This was an incredibly beautiful and heartbreaking episode written by Hank Steinberg and directed by Tim Matheson, who I hope returns to direct again.

Yes, it was that good!

First...that shot pulling away from the White House was so surreal. No signs of life and the bunker impenetrable, no answer from within. It's clear: no survivors. The heart of America's leadership exists no more.

In this episode, the mission is to disseminate the cure and find their families although more emphasis was placed on the latter and rightly so. It's time we learned the fate of the crew's loved ones and how they deal with it.

Tex confides to Rachel that he's searching for his fourteen-year old daughter whom he hasn't seen in two years.

"We have labs, we have scientists, we have you. If we get this right, with our ship covering the south, everybody spreading not just the cure but the knowledge of how to make it, we can turn the tide not just here but in Europe and in the world. We've all waited a long time for this day to come. It's here."

"Dad did this Sam, dad made this happen."

A beautiful tearful reunion between Kara and her mother Debbie.
With everything that's happened Kara really needed this!

XO cannot locate his family at Deer Park but he finds family photos and his daughter's sweatshirt.

Chandler returns home and grieves his loss.

Jed counsels his son as he struggles over giving up his command to take care of his kids.
"You think you're the first soldier to have trouble leaving your family behind?"
"You're Noah and that ship is your ark."

No joyful reunion for Garnett. Finding her home abandoned, she searched through piles of records at St. Vincent's and found her family members listed.  Clearly she's seeking comfort but Chandler never hugged her. His heart breaks for her but he remains a man in control of his emotions, especially in front of his crew. As Commanding Officer he cannot allow himself to show his vulnerable side. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but the distance he maintains, however slight in this case, is obvious. Chandler is a man completely in control all the time.

Rachel is distraught that there's been no contact from Michael.

Tearful goodbyes...

"You wanna stay."
"I want a lot of things."

 New beginnings...

Granderson is promoted.
"For your valor, for your loyalty."

A little humor...
XO and Captain are men of few words...
"I'm glad you're still with us, Mike."
"You didn't think about staying?"
"It's all I thought about."
"You mean I could've had my first command?"

And enemies abound...

Meanwhile in Port St. Lucie, FL
"We were spared because we are special. Because we are the rightful inheritors of the earth."

Neils Sorenson is back and things are about to from bad to worse.
"The ship with the cure, it's not a rumor. The question is what are you prepared to do about it?"

Every member of the crew is dealing with something right now. This experience has changed them. We've seen them in their capacity as sailors, working as a team to accomplish a common goal but we haven't really seen just how it has affected them personally. Watching Fay Masterson's tear-jerking scenes last night, I tweeted about how military men and women are not robots, just taking orders mindlessly. They are human beings with feelings. They're lost, hurt and terribly guilty and we were able to explore that a little.

Speaking of guilt, there was plenty of it to go around last night...
  • Chandler over his wife's death, leaving his kids behind.
  • Jed blaming himself for his daughter-in-law's death.
  • Kara leaving her mother, sober only a few months.
  • Slattery not being there to protect his family.
  • Garnett for being spared.
  • Granderson for her mother's role in murdering thousand of innocent people.
  • Tex for not being able to protect his daughter.
  • Rachel not saying goodbye to Michael.
  • Green for not being able to protect Foster the way he feels he needs to.

Now...what wasn't to love about this episode? The shots of aircraft overhead and the cheers from the sailors made me proud. I cheered along with the crew. I felt sorry for Tex, sighed a sigh of relief for Kara, and cried when Garnett realized she'd lost her family, when Rachel realized her boyfriend was likely dead, when Slattery left that note for his wife and when Chandler bid goodbye Jed and the kids.  Then there's the beautifully haunting musical score that pulled it all together and made it that much more gut-wrenching.

Of course I did laugh at least once...that final exchange between CO and XO on the deck. Perfect!

Some critics thought this episode was filler and too slow-paced but I disagree.  The two-hour premiere gave us a lot of action and we're still reeling from that. We needed to take a step back and see what the fallout was from everything that's happened. We wondered when the crew would have a chance to go back and search for their families. It was time to do this. "It's not a rumor" is a well-done episode with the mark of its talented Director apparent in every scene.  It was quite the emotional impact last night and no doubt the switch will be flipped to "all business" in episode four as we begin tangling with more bad guys....

Congrats to the cast and crew on a job well done!

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Last Ship Season 2 Premiere: Unreal City & Fight The Ship


"Let's take back our ship!"

I could leave it that because after all it is the gist of the entire episode but what fun would that be? Let me just say that it's a good thing there's a buffer between my house and the neighbors because with all of the shouting going on last night, I'm surprised someone didn't call the police. It sounded something like this...


Can you tell I was excited just a little? 

Seriously though, these two episodes were excellent, packed with action and suspense and we should take a moment to say THANK YOU to Director Jack Bender for that. It was everything a season premiere should be--lots of suspense, Slattery calling someone "asshole", bad guys getting all shot up.....and me yelling at my TV and tweeting at the same time.

It was a beautiful thing.

Now, if you're reading this you already know what happened so I will spare you the gory details and get right to my thoughts...  
Make no mistake. Andrea Garnett is the HBIC.  I knew women like her when I served. Garnett  exudes authority and confidence and she commands respect. No wonder she never gets any shit from her subordinates--they know that she knows her shit. And they know that she has their back. And while we're on the subject...I love the way The Last Ship portrays its women. It's refreshing. Women in the military can be feminine, strong, and kickass. Excellent job by Fay Masterson, Marissa Neitling and Christina Elmore for paying tribute to women who served.

You don't fuck with Slattery. I'd be terribly remiss in my duties if I didn't mention the incredible ass-kicking genius mo-fo that is Slattery. I'll admit my favorite part of the premiere was him watching and helping the crew kick ass from behind the scenes.  "My boys". Oh yeah those were his boys.  If you weren't standing up cheering and yelling "FUCK YEAH!" when he nailed that son of a bitch with the axe (which I affectionately named Betty), then I don't even want to know you.

Chandler in charge. Even when he wasn't on board the Nathan James, he was certainly in command of it.  When he starts tossing around threats on behalf of the U.S. Navy I get all giddy. It's just that good. The facial expressions, the voice, the mannerisms. Chandler is all business, all the time. I mentioned in one of my recaps last season that he reminds me of a few Commanding Officers I had when I served. Tough guys but fair. And you were proud to serve with them because you knew they'd jump in the trenches and put themselves in the line of fire right along with you. 

Tex. He's so much a part of the heart of this show. I didn't know what to think of him at first but damn I like him, in fact he's become a beloved character in the series. Everyone loves Tex! He's the Duke, Eastwood, Willis and Stallone all wrapped up in one. Tex is a loner but he knows how to work with a team and he fits in with this bunch.  Not only is he a certified badass but he's a nice guy. I'd like to know more of his backstory which I'm sure is coming soon. Every time he pulls out that locket and looks at it, I just feel bad for him. He's a man with a past who has loved and lost. 

This crew. The real hero of the premiere was the entire crew of the USS Nathan James. Every officer and enlisted took a role in taking back the ship which ultimately enabled them to take down Granderson and save Baltimore. One of the reasons you can't help but love this show is because the crew, no matter how bad things are at times and no matter how much stress they're under, always manages to pull together. They still work like a well-oiled machine and in the military that's how it's supposed to be. When I served, we trained as a team, to be a team. In this premiere, the crew once again proved they're the guys I want to save the world.

Slattery's Axe. Okay I can't do this write-up without an honorable mention because it's certainly deserved here. Slattery's Axe made its debut in the premiere and it was one hell of an entrance. It deserves a place in television history.

I call her "Betty".

Amy Granderson. Well that's the end of her isn't it?  It's too bad because Alfre Woodard knows how to bring her inner bitch. What a great performance. Cold, calculating, merciless. Extraordinary!  I wonder how her actions will impact her daughter. I mean let's face it, it's not every day your mother murders thousands of innocent people and burns their bodies for electricity, right? 

Alas, now that Mama Granderson has gone we need another foe. Fortunately for us, one is right around the corner.

Thorwald. I was surprised Titus Welliver's Thorwald didn't last longer. I didn't think he'd be a long term character but he was likeable and at the very least the tough cop could've died in battle, right?  I think a more fitting ending to Thorwald would've been for him and his "warlords" to take over Baltimore and lead the city back from the brink. Too bad it didn't happen that way, it would've been a great exit for him with the possibility for a brief return in the future.

Jed Chandler. Always good to see my pal Bill Smitrovich on the screen. Jed might be Grandpa but make no mistake he'll still kick your ass. Like he said, "I know how to hide and I still know how to fight." We need to keep Jed around because damn everybody loves Bill! Note to Steven Kane...we'd love to see Jed shoot up some bad guys so uh...make it happen okay? 

Quincy. Wow, what a way to go, right? That whole blood shooting out of every hole in him was pretty awesome. He gave up one for the team. From the very beginning he was just trying to save his wife and daughter. As much as he annoyed me, I kinda had a soft spot for Quincy, I thought the guy had a good heart, turns out he did.

Slattery and Rachel. Hello? Is this a dynamic duo or what? Slattery is a devoted family man and I'm not saying he and Rachel should be a thing but these two really connect. When he pulled the primordial out of its hiding place and handed it to Rachel and smiled and she wrapped her hands around his for a moment before taking it from him, I smiled too. It was just a really great scene. Those two have come a long way. They both have an attitude and started off with great disdain for each other. Now it's obvious they have a great respect for one another. And we know getting Slattery's respect is not an easy thing to do.  

To sum things up, the cast and crew put forth incredible effort and amazing performances that resulted in a truly suspenseful, action-packed, heart-stopping premiere. It's a piece of work they can be proud of!  I know I am.

On another note, I'd like to give a shout out to Marissa for basically encouraging my unruly behavior! Of course, it's obvious that on Sunday nights she's sitting on the comfy couch in her living room pretty much doing the same thing!

 Finally, I leave you with this beauty. Adam Baldwin delivers, doesn't he? It's a fine piece of work.

"Attention people of Baltimore. USS Nathan James is back under the control of her crew. This ship is now engaged in the fight to free Baltimore and spread the cure of the red flu to all of its citizens. This message goes to Amy Granderson and all those loyal to her. The Nathan James has been liberated and has joined the fight against you. We demand your immediate surrender. Lay down your arms or be subject to the full force of the United States Navy."