Warning: Spoiler Alert
Last week we were able to secure the Captain, Tex and the remaining Tophets. Dr. Scott believes she is prepared to attempt human trials. It will be interesting where we go from here considering we are in the home stretch for season 1. This week we start off with a man, we discover is Capt Chandler’s father, finds another of his neighbors contaminated with the virus. Despite losing people as time passes, Chandler’s father, Chandler’s wife and kids have a decent set up. Even if the prospect of future security is fleeting.
On the Nathan James, the leadership prepares for Cossetti’s funeral in their dress whites. Chandler, as steadfast as he is, still from time to time needs to be refocused. He tries to convince himself that Cossetti died so that he could live. MC Jeter reminds him that Cossetti died for the mission.
In Dr. Scott’s lab, they are converting a clean room into a quarantine human trials tent. Tex, naturally, is there to assist. His demeanor lacks the typical Tex’ness that we are accustomed to. He inquires as to the nature of how to procure test subjects for ‘human trials’. Finding volunteers on this ship may be difficult.
On the deck of the ship the crew, donned in their dress whites, observe the funeral service for Cossetti. As close to protocol as can be expected. Even had a ‘seven’ gun salute. The scene, albeit devoid of dialogue was impactful. In light of Cossetti’s attempt to remove himself and many others off the Nathan James, the crew for the most part came back around to accepting him prior to the mission that ended in his demise. Nonetheless, Cossetti felt compelled to make it right. He did not venture out with the intention of taking a bullet. Cossetti’s earned his place in good standing with everyone on the ship. That scene makes such a concept crystal clear.
Afterwards the leadership converse on the deck. The problem at hand for Slattery and Chandler is how exactly, do they persuade crew members to volunteer to become the infected. The short answer is that someone from the leadership (i.e. Chandler, Slattery or Jeter) need to volunteer. Chandler, being the ideal model of a military leader, suggests it should be him. Which doesn’t fly with Slattery in the least. MC Jeter saves them the time for debate as he outlines how he has already been screened and he “checks off a few boxes” for Dr. Scott.
I would love to tell you that I feel good about all of this. The good doctor will administer the vaccine to a few infected and it will be the wonder drug we all hope it to be. And through the course of the next 117 minutes of Last Ship episodes will end with saving the world. But does anyone really believe that’s how it will go? I personally feel like there will be something catastrophically bad will befall someone we like to extend the story.
This next thing is the subject of considerable debate since our last episode. To recap for those just joining us. Early in the season, Quincy Tophet (assistant to Dr. Scott) was communicating with the Russians. He attempted to steal Dr. Scott and turn her over to the Russians. When that didn’t work, he threatened to expose the entire ship to the virus. It has not gone well for Tophet since. He has been as much of a trouble maker as possible considering his very small influence (as in the case of Bacon and by some extension Cossetti). While a team from the Nathan James attempted to rescue Capt Chandler, Chandler made the executive decision to take time and rescue wife and child Tophet. Literally the only motivating factor for Tophet’s bad behavior. In one swift move, the captain removed the element that defined who Tophet had been for most of the season. So the question was, “now that all the Tophets are safe, will the crew recognize the gravity of what that means and will the crew and maybe more importantly the viewers forgive him?”
Here at NJATVS, Jeff Sack made a very nice correlation. Based on what happened with Tophet, as compared to what happened with Ward from Agents of SHIELD. Without going into detail, Ward is beyond any point where his character can find redemption. Tophet is not that far gone. Tophet did what any parent or spouse would do once put in that predicament. Tophet is empathetic and a likable guy put in an impossible scenario.
Chandler makes his way below where he finds Mrs. Tophet getting situated. They have a nice moment. Chandler is very cordial and welcoming. I’d be lying if I told you anything other than I expect Chandler to turn to Tophet and say something to the effect of, “no thanks required, now let’s keep our eyes on the prize and finish this thing.” The beauty of this show is in the subtlety. I know, a military show about one ship saving the world and subtle doesn’t really go. Instead, hindsight being what it is, that is not exactly how it went down. Full disclosure, I like this way slightly better. From the perspective of a military mind, it allows an opening for Dr. Tophet to earn his way back into everyone’s good graces.
Tophet: I…uh, I haven’t had the opportunity to thank you for what you did for my family after what I did to you.
Chandler (deadpan, even for him): Commander Slattery said you were very helpful while I was on vacation…
Tophet: Still…I don’t deserve what you did.
Chandler (looks, then nods): Let’s finish what we started.
Shortly thereafter, the three qualified doctor types on the ship start the interview process for volunteers for human trials. Coming in, the leadership was worried that the turnout would be remarkably low. As it turns out (without counting), it looks like every character of note minus Tex is in this room. Welp! Scratch that. Here comes Tex.
It should be mentioned that the cast of characters chosen for this trial are not without consequence. They are leading us down the path of ‘everything works out in the end’. But what if it doesn’t? Tex? The lead engineer? MC Jeter? Lt. Foster? If this ends badly the ship and the show will suffer significant losses.
Side note. The slow motion effect applied to those walking into the quarantine room, is doing nothing to change my mind about the previous statement.
Meanwhile on the home front, Mrs. Chandler has ventured out to get supplies in an area that Chandler’s father warned against. Ladies and gentlemen we have a “War” citing. For those that get that reference, kudos to you. A group of healthy men (including Titus Welliver referenced from his short role on Supernatural as one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse) scouring the same are as Mrs. Chandler for supplies. She makes a noise that draws their attention. She does escape, however not unscathed. As she gets out of there, we see an infected body on the floor. Now she did not make contact with him, but she was in that confined space long enough that we have to assume she’s infected.
Even infected with a virus responsible to killing the vast majority of the planet, Tex takes an opportunity to further his advances towards Dr. Scott. He even makes a cheesy attempt at a Sean Connery James Bond impression that I personally loved. Dr. Scott, maybe not so much.
This show does a good job of sucking you in, but rarely does it push me to the brink of shouting profanities at my television. Not ten seconds after Chandler utters the words “I don’t want any more funerals” to Slattery, Lt. Foster goes stiff and eventually seizes. And with an improvised crash cart sequence and a handful of ‘f-bombs’ shouted by me, Lt. Foster is stable…for now.
To be general, something is not right with the human trials. Each person seems to be reacting differently and displaying different symptoms. Poor blood circulation, fatal fever, rash, and in the case of Andrea Garnett, delirium. Then a small horror flick begins ending with MC Jeter sleep walking or hallucinating about his late girls. In the wake of the chaos, no one noticed the woman next to Miller die.
“I want her given the Navy Cross”-Chandler
While we’ve been (I imagine) collectively welcoming back Quincy Tophet, a new dynamic just snuck in the back door. At some point, Dr. Scott’s mental and physical strain working on the virus solo has got to catch up. While at the same time, Tophet re-committing himself to the cause. They are bound to butt heads. If Tophet’s right, he saves some lives and is officially redeemed while Dr. Scott was working too hard. But if he’s wrong, we lose Patrice. The impact of which is immeasurable as of this moment.
Chandler: I didn’t know if it were my place to tell you, but if it were me, I’d wanna know.
(Green stands firmly at attention)
Chandler: Kara’s pregnant.
I’ll give you a moment to compose yourself.
Chandler (looking at MC Jeter): When they talk about the plague of the twenty-first century they’ll talk about you. The six.
Now I would never attempt to pass myself off as a medical expert. However, I have seen enough military or war shows and movies to know, that when they pull out the morphine (which Tophet is doing currently), it will be used as the compassionate way to let someone die. Just then Dr. Scott comes running in preventing Tophet from using the morphine. She and Tophet go back and forth in a medical volley. Watching Chandler and Slattery try to follow their logic is like looking into my wife’s eyes as I try to explain the nuances of a 3-4 defense. Long story short, the monkey has no human genes to react poorly to and they will use the Arctic strain as a Trojan Horse.
What follows is a scene with very little dialogue, but shows each patient clearing up. Even shows what has to be the moment that Green tells Foster she’s carrying his child and will be born immune.
Dr. Scott stands alone in a corner reflecting with a thermos. Chandler emerges from the dark looking very stern.
Chandler: Can we talk?
(he points adamantly towards the quarantine tent as if he’s pissed about something)
Chandler: About what I hope is going on in there.
(Dr. Scott looks into the middle distance as if she’s contemplating the answer)
Chandler: We have it? We have a vaccine.
Dr. Scott: We don’t just have a vaccine…we have the cure.
Chandler: You mean…
Dr. Scott: I mean we can save people who are already sick.
That last line is particularly important as we already assumed that Mrs. Chandler was infected. I for one, had not anticipated how she would probably infect her family before noticing symptoms.
I’d like to think of myself as an objective even keel viewer. I’m sure that reality would disagree with me. Regardless, this episode is a ‘payoff’ episode. This is one of those episodes, that makes all of the previous ones worth your investment of time. This episode ties together many of the relationships, personality quirks, story line details and presents them to you in a way that doesn’t wrap up the story, but absolutely sucks you in and sends you through the emotional wringer. For one episode, this show held (at least me) the viewer captive. Every show in some capacity fits into a mold. The mold in mind for this show meant many things. However, I did not believe the creators of The Last Ship had an episode like this in them. The difference between what I expected today and what I got, may be small or circumstantial. But one thing is certain, the creators of this show should be commended for this episode specifically and the way they were able to build toward it.