Warning: Spoiler Alert
Last week we experienced a pedestrian Last Ship based on comparisons to previous episodes. One major detail though, involves a testable vaccine. The TV math still says it’s too soon to be that close to the end of the tunnel, but we’ll see how it pans out. Fully stocked with the capability to manufacture their own water supply, we soldier on, towards Costa Rica.
Right out of the gate, I’m questioning Tex’ motivation or where his loyalty lies. He’s a great character, no mistake about it. Almost every time he’s on camera he effortlessly makes me feel comfortable with his presence and question it at the same time. He in a rough neck, man who’s lived in isolation for a while manner hits on or at least tries to hit on Dr. Scott during her workout. He doesn’t say or do anything overtly pushy. If anything he invites her into the “board room” (where the officers and department heads if you will meet to discuss future plans), where he has saved her a seat.
There also is something fishy about Chandler’s family safely tucked away in a cabin in the wilderness. I would love to believe its just that simple. The man everyone is depending on has his loved ones tucked away safely. It cannot possibly be that simple though. Chandler continues to record these messages on his iPad. By the way, are iPad’s military issue now? Because that would be cool if they were. However, this recording scene does give us a very short glimpse into his unfiltered emotional state.
Slattery interrupts our glimpse into the Captain’s psyche to inform him that Costa Rica may not be so easy to navigate. The next best option is Nicaragua. And if that didn’t make like inconvenient enough, Dr. Scott insists she accompany the team to the site. Then in a rare Slattery moment, he does take a subtle but lovely shot at/impression of Dr. Scott conveying that thought. If you weren’t paying attention you might have missed it. They decide on small teams and Chandler tells Slattery, “I’ll need all my best men, that includes you”. To which Slattery replies, “Its been a while since I went hunting”.
Everything seems fine and uneventful. The teams are even able to radio back when they were sure they wouldn’t be able to. And right about the time I thought to myself, “I hope they brought actual guns” instead of just he tranquilizers for the monkeys…it became less uneventful. People emerged from beyond the trees. People who clearly have been infected by the virus. They retreat back to the boats. Chandler looks directly at Dr. Scott and proclaims, “You’re out of here! We can’t risk it. We’ll get you an assortment of monkeys and that will have to do”. They radar indicates, they two boats split up.
Once out of radio range the team moving forward (Captain, XO, Master Chief, etc) shoot off the green flare (out of radio range, but all is good). They spot a yacht that is in bad shape to be polite called the “EL TORO” or for those playing at home, the name of the episode. Clearly this will not just be a typical in and out mission.
On foot, they pursue deeper into the jungle. Suddenly, one of the men gets caught it what looks like a rudimentary bear trap. As soon as the Captain removes the trap, they are instantly surrounded by men with guns that are not familiar. These men seem to belong to a make shift village inhabited by men, women and children that do not appear to be infected, or at least that’s how it seems. The man they are being escorted to goes by El Toro. He looks familiar but I cannot place him. He is for lack of a better term the imperial ruler of a camp ground. Chandler informs him of the situation and ‘El Toro’ responds with something lacking the respect required when a military officer informs you of the amount of hurt at his disposal. El Toro decides to give the man the antidote he needs from the bear trap, but there is clearly an ulterior motive at work here.
As a fan of Rhona Mitra (the easy on the eyes part, not the acting so much), I enjoyed the next scene. As a fan of the show, the scene just left me confused. Which it was supposed to do. Dr. Scott does venture down to the board room where Tex is eating dinner. There was an initial concern for the status of the other team. Then what followed was witty, sultry, and left us with nothing more than questions. Did Dr. Scott just open her vulnerabilities to Tex. Is Tex’ mojo working on her? Either way, it seems we are (hopefully) starting to see Dr. Scott become one of the team if not a normal human with emotions.
The relative pissing contest continues in El Toro’s tent. He claims benevolence, while our men throw his hypocritical attitude back in his face. I can’t help but feel like the other shoe has yet to drop. El Toro takes a young woman (daughter to the other man at the table) and has as much of his way with her as could be expected without drawing out retaliation from our men. She rips away from Toro’s clutches and says something that is not well received. Her father frantically apologizes for her behavior. Then she implores our men to use their ship and get them out of here. To which Chandler follows up with, “Our only interest is getting out of here with our man healthy.” Of course there are “several things we need to discuss”. Yeah, saw that coming.
Toro’s men retrieved the boxes aboard the boats that were to be used for containing the monkeys. After a nice and loud message about not being lied to and dishonesty leading to a dangerous problem, Chandler tells El Toro the truth. Or at least enough of it to sell him on their intentions. The very next scene is a few of our guys putting monkeys into the crates. Meanwhile back at Toro’s tent, he tries to decipher the code behind the colored flares while Chandler tries to throw him off the scent.
Back at the river’s edge, the girl from before that ‘disrespected’ El Toro is being carried toward a row-boat kicking and screaming. Slattery and Green (after having a short conversation about how the safety of these people are not their mission), come to the aid of the girl. The father yells out that they are going to leave her on the other side of the river so she can catch the virus and eventually die a painful long drawn out death. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t want them to go all ‘American Hero’ and do what is morally right here.
And true to form of an American show about American seaman fighting to save the world, we get our ‘American Hero’ moment. Slattery and Green shackled on their knees still won’t back down from their moral ground. Chandler demands Toro release his men. Toro offers to keep the weapons, the suits and any other equipment, and Chandler gets to leave with his men and the monkeys. Upon their departure, a line is drawn in the proverbial sand…
Slattery: Stop the boat. Stop the boat Master Chief. … This cannot stand.
Jeter: With all due respect…
Slattery: I know it’s not our mission and I don’t care. We cannot leave those people like that.
Chandler: I counted 13 guards. 7 in the tent compound, 4 in the village,
Green: Two on the perimeter. At night they might up the ante, especially if they think we’re turning around.
Jeter: Gentlemen, let’s keep our heads cool. This is not the mission at hand.
Green: We’re supposed to be saving the world. Shouldn’t it be worth saving?
Jeter: If we had Burke and Techs and weapons maybe, but this? What if we don’t make it back? What happens to him? What’s Dr. Scott going to do without the monkeys? What’s our crew going to do without their leader?
Slattery: (under his breath to Chandler) I have daughters. You have a daughter.
Chandler: We came to hunt.
Following the break, we get exactly what we might expect. In the night, Capt Chandler and XO Slattery quietly sneaking up on an unsuspecting bad guys…and a snap of a neck here, a stab in the chest there, neutralized. Our men slowly but meticulously work their way through the camp. This is the part of the episode where I tell you that I’d love to give you the literal play by-play, but you’d be better served actually watching the scene.
By the way, there is a very short list of words I’d like to use to describe El Toro. None of them are appropriate for this medium.
Surrounded by (my count) 6 of his men, Toro grabs a young girl puts a knife to her throat in front of the father. In a single instant, all of his men drop dead from fatal gun shots. Nothing wasted. “You’re finished boss. It’s over, drop the knife” -Chandler. During a predictable series of lines from El Toro, leaving Chandler to wonder about just how to exercise justice, the father of all the girls in question does the deciding for Chandler. And stabs Toro viciously. And just like that a democracy as instilled in a small river village.
If you’re paying attention to the promos that follow, El Toro may be the episode that signals the show hitting another gear. Not to say that the others have been lacking. On the contrary. The others have been substantive. You have to build the details before you can make the big episodes.