Warning: Spoiler Alert
Last week’s Last Ship gave us an ending we were not accustomed to. Until that point, we had never experienced an episode that didn’t at least attempt to create some level of episodic closure. This time, just when the viewer is expecting a sigh of relief that the crew of the Nathan James defied their orders to save the Captain, we discover that the helicopter hovering overhead does not belong to the Nathan James.
A bit of small talk between officers and we discover that not only are the Russians poor hosts, but there won’t be a magic show on or anywhere near the Lido Deck. They march Chandler down to Ruskov’s quarters where Mrs. Tophet and her daughter are dining with the Russian Admiral. The daughter (Ava) immediately jumps up and asks if Chandler has her father. He tells her that he is safe on his ship. What follows is one of those moments we as Americans tend to enjoy. It speaks to the resolve that we believe every soldier should have. Ruskov is being a smart ass and putting on a show for his own enjoyment. All Chandler says is:
“My name is Thomas Chandler. Commander. United States Navy. Serial Number: 4242022634”
The search continues to locate Chandler and Tex, despite the fact that both MC Jeter and XO Slattery, are all but sure the Russians have them. Meanwhile, Dr. Scott tries to explain to Patrice how the virus works and why it doesn’t work against her. Just then the door opens. It’s Comms Officer Mason, the guy who recognized Patrice’s voice over the radio, and he looks like a kid with puppy love in his eyes.
“Sir, Admiral Ruskov on the wit-sac”. The look on everyone’s face present on the bridge when Granderson said those words looked as if they were thinking, “Oh you don’t get to take our Captain and live to tell the tale.” Naturally, Ruskov lays out his demands of Dr. Scott and all pertinent work or the Captain and his companion die. Slattery says very little which Ruskov interprets as indecision and inexperience. Something tells me there is much more to it than that.
In Dr. Scott’s lab she finishes running tests on the monkey’s blood sample that has the benefit of Patrice’ immunity. Not being a doctor of any kind, I am hesitant to understand what I’m looking at. Then Dr. Scott almost breaks into full on crying. They are tears of joy though.
Dr. Scott barges into a meeting between Slattery and a few men offering to board the Russian ship in hopes of stealing back Chandler and Tex. Slattery tries to brush her off and she says in a declarative tone, “I have the vaccine”. This of course, freezes the room where they stand. In an effort to be self-sacrificing or the desire to be the martyr, Dr. Scott offers to go aboard the Russian ship test the vaccine on herself turning herself over to the Russians if it will save Chandler and Tex. Just then, the Russian XO informs Ruskov that the Americans have agreed to deliver Dr. Scott.
They escort Chandler to the holding cell to accompany Tex. Considering the predicament they find themselves in, the following exchange is entertaining.
Chandler: You’ve looked better…
Tex: You should’ve seen the other guy.
Chandler: There was another guy?
Tex: He was a big unit. No sense of humor. You wanna know the kicker? He didn’t even ask me any questions.
Guard: Hey! No talk. Or I’ll kiss your ass.
Tex: You mean “kick” my ass.
Guard: Just shut up your head, ok?
The rest of that dialogue is more important to the plot, but I enjoyed the humor in the above transcript. In addition, Chandler is able to quickly explain with the use of code exactly what is about to happen. Tex gets it immediately.
Side note. Why is it that in almost every military show or movie, they feel compelled to use the lines, “Are we clear? Crystal”? Just a random thought.
Next we see Dr. Scott getting instruction on the benefits, draw backs, and basic ‘how to’ on firing a 45mm hand gun. Something I’m sure she’s never done, nor ever thought she’d have to do. As she grabs her gear and heads away from the lab, Slattery stops her and does something I wasn’t expecting. The long and short of it is that he respects what she’s trying to do. And even goes as far as saying, “proud to know you”.
In the holding cell, Chandler and Tex sit side by side. At first it appears that they are just shooting the proverbial breeze about some nonsense. At first glance it sounds like they are ranking various things. Then Chandler says, “If we’re doing Steve McQueen films why not Alcatraz?” Then I realized they are plotting something using a common reference. Clever.
Upon Dr. Scott’s arrival, the Russian XO (who may be even more of a jerk than Ruskov) frisks Dr. Scott. As if she’d be crazy enough to just have a gun strapped to her thigh. They even investigate her case with the virus samples. Not that they had many options, but a brilliant place to store a hand gun, extra magazine and silencer. But she was crafty enough to suggest they not search too vigorously, without overselling it.
OK. In the sense of full disclosure. I just experienced a fangirl like reaction to my tv that included muffled screaming. Dr. Scott standing in Ruskov’s chambers, demands he let the prisoners go. They bring in Chandler and Tex. Chandler’s immediate response is, “What in the hell are you doing here?” She then lunges toward him and proceeds to plant a passionate and long kiss on Capt Chandler.
Mystery man time. I would hate to give too much away, spoiler alert notwithstanding. We discover that there was good reason for the more senior scientist to distance himself from this mystery man in the flash back sequence from the earlier episode. What he did was combine his genetics with the virus, which in turn gave us the human mutated strain. Not knowing much about what any of that means, I’m in the passenger seat on this one. One thing is certain though, Dr. Scott is mortified by the implications of what all of that means.
Back in the holding cell, Tex is understandably confused. Not a day earlier, Chandler gave him permission to pursue Dr. Scott as Chandler had no interest (as futile as a proposition as that may seem). Then to see a kiss that appeared to everyone involved, except maybe Chandler, to be real and passionate. As Tex goes into his whole ‘married and navy man’ bit, Chandler is unrolling a piece of paper that Scott clearly passed to him mid kiss. Even during this moment, a moment that should give real optimism to their immediate future, Tex still goes back to the kiss.
“I mean, I was standing right there. She could’ve passed me the note…”
Ruskov and his men (with Dr. Scott close behind) barge back into the lab where Ruskov accuses the male doctor of lying and wasting time and resources. After he explains (in his opinion or speculation) that the vaccine won’t work without him, they hold down one of Ruskov’s officers to receive the vaccine. Which the officer is not ok with at all.
Ruskov ventures down to the holding cell. Let’s be honest, to gloat a little. And more importantly to try to persuade Chandler to use his talents and crew to serve the Admiral’s end. And once again like the cross between John Wayne and John McClane that he is, Chandler responds with is own military acceptable middle finger.
” My name is Thomas Chandler. Commander. United States Navy. Serial Number: 4242022634.”
Back on the Nathan James, XO Slattery and MC Jeter display nerves about what is about to happen. Whether I’ve missed the hints or they were never given, I am still in the dark on what exactly that entails.
“This is your XO. So…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.”
Well we know what the metal piece in the note passed to Chandler from Dr. Scott was for. Slitting the guards throat. Brilliant. I knew it was the file in the cake, I just wasn’t sure how they would use it. A little witty banter and Tex is able to open the cage door using the key that they guard no longer has a use for.
The following scene is exactly what you’d expect it to be. Chandler and Tex trying to make it to a specific part of the ship and killing or maiming anything that gets in their way. They reach a point in the ship’s corridor that gives them a vantage point. Also happens to be the place where they are met by the Nathan James extraction team. Funny thing is for what will eventually be upwards of three episodes, Capt Chandler is hell-bent on “we’ll talk about this later”. Saving you. Saving Green. Saving whoever, Chandler seems determined to follow-up with requisite discipline action. As if a thank you wouldn’t suffice. But we must remember this is the US Military we’re watching (fictional as it may be), and maintaining order is paramount.
It appears much simpler than I previously theorized. It seems the plan (at this point) is to set explosives around a certain part of the ship and blow a massive hole in it. Chandler makes one detour to the Admiral’s chambers. He opens the door and Mrs. Tophet and daughter are sitting there quiet. “If you want off this ship, come with me now.” The team splits up to get the Tophet’s to the extraction point while the rest pursue Dr. Scott. The Russians are aware of the escape in progress. Ruskov orders his XO to not sound the alarm or use the radio as Chandler knows Russian. The game is on.
The Russian XO goes to fetch Dr. Scott. She spins a lovely and completely fake bit about needing to give the man the second part of the vaccine. Hopefully giving her enough time to screw the silencer onto the 45 and take out the XO. She takes out the XO but only after fumbling with the silencer. The shots are loud, but effective.
Correction to an earlier comment. The plan was not to blow a hole in the ship. If we go back to the early part of this episode there was a discussion between Green and Cossetti about setting charges in the engine room, potentially disabling the engines. Then that was when Green insisted Cossetti join the extraction team. The idea was to disable the ship not destroy it. This is lovely as it allows Cossetti a second chance to win back the crew after leading his failed attempt to get off the Nathan James two episodes ago.
In another great Chandler moment, they get all the way to the exit point. And just before opening the hatch to make their escape, Chandler stops them. Doing the math, he convinces the team that the Russians are waiting on the other side of the hatch. Of course he’s right, but this now means a new extraction point.
The temperament of the Russians (specifically Ruskov) does a complete 180 in a matter of minutes. Ruskov’s flaw is that he (figuratively) reads his own press clippings. He believes he’s just smarter. So in the beginning of this rescue attempt, Ruskov felt he was a few steps ahead of Chandler. The problem is that this wasn’t Chandler’s plan. And the Nathan James was 20 steps ahead of the Russians. So when their plan doesn’t render immediate results, the entire operation falls apart for the Russians. They can’t crank the engines at full steam ahead, because they have no propulsion. As one example.
The Nathan James’ team is in position to receive the women and child in the boat below. The rest of that team positions itself at the ready. One major problem. Well, it’s either a problem or a circumstance to illustrate the heroism of those men from the Nathan James. The Russians have the advantage from an elevated position. Referred to as “shooting fish in a barrel”. Being outnumbered and in this disadvantageous position, both point to a huge obstacle to overcome. And wouldn’t you know it. Our boys just start picking off Russians, one kill shot after another.
It would be too much to ask for the bad guys to just die with honor. As many of the Russians are trying to relocate from the exploded areas of the ship to a safer location, we see the other doctor out of his plastic bubble. Dressed as a low ranking sailor, he moves with the crowd. If it weren’t for the detail that the Russian ship is exploding (hopefully to rubble) I’d say that little wrinkle is how we extend to a second season. But as has been said of other shows, “No one ever really dies”.
Going back to the Cossetti/Green dynamic, the extraction boat isn’t even within eye shot of the Nathan James and Green takes that opportunity to commend Cossetti. It’s a nice a clever move by the show runners to not only rectify a character’s mistake, but also endear Lt. Green to us in a manner that we haven’t had yet. Everyone gets that Lt. Green is motivated and a good soldier. But until this point, he was not relate-able or sympathetic.
I knew it was too good to be true. I imagined Cossetti being congratulated by the same crew members that had given him the cold shoulder last episode. And in that moment of optimism I thought, ‘his reply is coming much slower than it should. Cossetti’s eyes gloss over and he said “we did it” just before passing out from an abdomen shot he suffered in the fire fight.
While I wait to find out Cossetti’s fate, there is one thing I’ve been silently waiting for. Tophet is an S.O.B. because everything hinges on the Russians having or killing his wife and daughter. The Russians no longer have the Tophet’s and there has been no opportunity to convey that information to Dr. Tophet. I eagerly await Quincy’s reaction and his behavior moving forward when he realizes the extraction team is heavy a wife and a daughter.
Ok. As a relatively new father (going on three years in) of a wonderful toddler, that scene hit me a little harder than I expected.
I have spent more time cursing at my television today than any other Last Ship episode. However, I cannot blame them for going this route. You cannot pin on destroyer and it’s crew against a fictional virus that has already killed 80% of the world’s population and a power-hungry Russian and think there will be no casualties. Predictable as it may seem, the death of Cossetti is necessary. Everyone on the deck removes their cap’s before we see Cossetti. We then see Lt. Green carry Cossetti’s limp body out of the boat and carries him passed some of those men and women who gave Cossetti the cold shoulder I referenced earlier. It’s a visually powerful scene that says everything that needs to be said. Could it have been done differently? Sure, but I am perfectly fine with the path they chose pertaining to this story line.
With two more episodes to go there is a great deal to consider. I almost feel that curing the virus at any point in the next two episodes is beyond unrealistic. Also the voice over on the promo said, “with only two episodes left in THIS season”. I think it is much more likely that we make progress, and some big thing happens to create a cliffhanger going into season 2. I am still skeptical of just how long a show like this can carry on, but that’s why we watch.