Warning: Spoiler Alert
The last time we spoke, I felt that we had witnessed the best episode of the season thus far. A great example of how a show can remove the set pieces, shoot only one location, and still make a compelling episode. Naturally, you need each of the other episodes to build to a point that makes last week’s episode possible. By episode’s end, we had not only the vaccine but the cure. We left the episode on the kind of high note that suggests it could have been the season conclusion. So what does that mean for tonight’s finale?
One of the more satisfying part in the first few minutes is the non-verbal moment shared between Dr. Quincy Tophet and “Bacon” as Tophet administers the vaccine to Bacon. Then we see Dr. Scott and Capt Chandler alone in a room, reflecting prior to the Captain getting his vaccination. If I was not so absolutely certain about Chandler’s resolve and dedication to his family, this is when and where the shipper in me would love to see something go down. However, in the end Captain Tom Chandler is a man’s man beyond reproach.
After watching Tex confide in a German Sheppard about his “you make me want to love again” confession to Dr. Scott, we see XO Slattery address the crew. They will be heading to Ft. Detrich (Maryland) to mass produce the cure. Their path will bring them right by Norfolk (home) and that they might even get cell service. But not to get their hopes up. “We don’t know what we’re going to find”.
As the Nathan James prepares to venture to Ft. Detrich, they make preparations to see what they’re up against. Utilizing the Key Hole Satellite imagery. We find a massive one way bumper to bumper highway traffic jam. Then we find that the lab in Ft. Detrich that Dr. Scott was hoping to use has been destroyed.
What I originally interpreted as a dream sequence was assuredly not one. We see Chandler’s entire family in a car. They are not well. As was evident in the previous scene with Grandpa Chandler frantically working the radio. The men that turn them away, are in fact the same men Mrs. Chandler encountered last episode. Full disclosure, Titus Welliver deserves to headline a show of his own. And I’d be willing to bet that I’m not the only one at NJATVS that feels that way.
Back on the Nathan James, the radio tech is listening to the cycle of audio transitions. Except this time there is a message directed at the Nathan James specifically. With a new-found need for a requisite lab to mass produce the cure, they may want to follow through on this call as they claim to have a facility they need.
While they radio the caller, the same transmission is heard by Chandler’s father. They get a communication on the ship from a “Mrs. Granderson”. If the last name isn’t enough to peak your interest, the inclusion of Alfre Woodard should be intriguing enough. As a member of what is still considered loosely to be our government and knowing the impending pandemic, in addition to Capt Chandler’s mission, this “Granderson” had her daughter (Lt. Granderson) transferred to Chandler’s ship.
The moment that follows between would-be mother and daughter reunion was something.
Lt. Green and a handful of others venture out into Baltimore Harbor to secure a perimeter to securely. Mrs. Granderson sends out a ‘welcoming party’ of local police. Titus Welliver and his boys are waiting at a safe distance. Watching this from the perspective of a rifle’s scope is a lovely device. Apparently, the locals are not very thrilled with Mrs. Granderson. The fact that she’s still breathing seems to be a thorn in their sides.
On the Nathan James, Slattery speaks with the Lt. they first met in Baltimore. Slattery inquiring as to the status of Deer Park, the last place his wife was. The news is not unconditionally good, but optimistic nonetheless.
Mrs. Granderson takes the pertinent crew to a facility. That facility in question was everything the Nathan James was not. Granderson flat-out asks if the possibility of a vaccine was real. Dr. Scott replies with, “we’ve done a little better than that”. As the tour continues they stop in front of glass double doors. On the other side are a collection of doctors in lab coats. The group is informed that they have been working tirelessly to create a vaccine that Dr. Scott already has. Then, one of the doctors looks up and makes eye contact with the CDC case. Then looks at Granderson. She nods in the affirmative. The doctor starts a slow clap as the rest of the room joins in. And for a moment at least, the men and women representing the Nathan James are celebrated for their sacrifices and work.
Welliver’s character is not at all pleased with the potential of what this means. Instead of rejoicing in the news of a legitimate cure, he is frustrated at the prospect of losing control of the city.
Chandler is granted time to use their ‘radio room’ in hopes of communicating with his family. Granderson replies with, “I think it’s about time you thought about yourself.”
Tex visits Dr. Scott in the nice clean lab. Feeling all but defeated in the game of romancing Dr. Scott, this is a last-ditch effort before he ‘heads off’. The exchange goes about as expected from Tex’ perspective considering how he’s been shot down at almost every turn. However, I expected more from Dr. Scott. In the mindset of wanting to see them together (as unlikely as that may seem) I want her to step up. Leave her comfort zone and reciprocate the ‘move’. On the other hand, I love Tex as a character and believe the show diminishes its value without Tex in the fold. So in two completely different angles, I need Dr. Scott to do something to get Tex to stay.
At the exact moment, I have lost all hope that Dr. Scott would do anything. A heartbeat after I yelled at the TV, “Oh, don’t be so British!” Tex takes control. If we are destined to lose Tex as a recurring character, he went out the way only Tex would. He stops short, says “what the hell” and pursues her trusting his animal instincts. Plants a real kiss on her, which she in no way, shape or form resists. Well played Tex, well-played.
Now there has been no secret of my affection for the Tom Chandler character. I think the character is everything a military leader is expected to be. As for the fictional element, he always seems to say or do exactly what he is supposed to. I would be fun to write for that character. That said, around the 42 minute mark, when Chandler speaks to his father, the bottom falls out. And sure, it could be argued that the situation he finds himself in would change the tone of his characters demeanor. While I grant the premise, he would not completely deviate from what he is. The writing is less than ideal in that moment. And quite frankly, required a little overacting in order to sell the line. Not trying to be overly critical but it sticks out like a sore thumb.
When they arrive at the location where Jed Chandler is supposed to be, the local police refuse to go to the new location. As it is designated for sick people. The irony being that everyone on the ground in this scene are immune regardless. Then we find ourselves in a relative Tarantino-esque stand-off. Which ends almost badly. One SUV is left. Chandler orders Lt. Green to take MC Jeter back to the ship. He further declares that ‘we are getting out of Baltimore”.
The Granderson’s sit in an office. And this ladies and gentlemen is where a new character we are lead to believe is good, reveals herself to not be so. The younger Granderson asks about looking for her friend, Sara. If we go back to the earlier episodes, you’ll remember a story that Granderson told about meeting her ‘girlfriend’ in Paris. The senior Granderson clearly does not approve. It’s a drive by of a moment but it’s there. The senior then inquires about what kind of man Chandler is. Will Chandler still follow orders? Titus Welliver is starting to look less and less like a bad guy. Maybe he has a valid reason to view the elder Granderson as the devil.
Chandler and Burk make their way to Olympia. A place referenced often as a safe haven. It is neither a town nor a safe haven. Olympia is a sports arena where they are herding the sick. The prospects do not look promising. And just then, we hear the faint but audible, “daddy?” And what you think happens, does. The warm and passionate embrace of a father reunited with his (sick) children. Then Chandler repeatedly asks, “where’s Mommy?” as he injects his children. What follows is difficult. Tom’s dad has to inform him that she didn’t make it. Even in this instance of total and complete despair, Tom Chandler finds a way to respond in the only way possible for Captain Tom Chandler.
On the ship Slattery is taking Granderson’s (senior) Lt around the ship. And he suddenly shoots one of the crew. He informs Slattery to gather the crew and drop anchor. The plan is to take all of the cure. It is becoming immediately clear how we look to season 2.
Dr. Scott is brought to Granderson. They have a civil conversation, but one that clearly pits one vs the other. Granderson believes it is her responsibility to preserve our society. She has corralled the young, smart and talented and secured them within the safety of her walls. If the virus kills off the rest, then so be it. This is any governmental contingency you’ve seen in any end of the world movie. And Granderson believes she is empowered to determine who gets saved and who doesn’t.
Earlier, Dr. Scott noticed an irregularity in the numbers provided for her. I wasn’t sure what it meant at first. They came up with a drug that is not the cure but prolongs the effects of the virus. Or so they thought. It turns out the sick are going to Olympia for help. The government (what’s left of it) is maybe making them sicker if not intentionally killing them. This just turned from optimistically looking to save everyone, to essentially discovering Nazi-like concentration camp nonsense. Trucks are seen driving payloads of dead bodies toward a plant of some sort whose chimney stacks are steadily pumping what I can only assume is ash into the air. “They are burning the bodies to power the city”.
Chandler radios to the Nathan James. Burk’s radio doesn’t make a sound. No answer. On the Nathan James, the crew is meeting on the deck. Tophet is bleeding out on the floor. Foster is knelt beside him. Slattery can’t move as there is a gun pointed on him. Chandler looks into the middle distance and says, “Nathan James, where are you?”
Well one thing is for sure, regardless of the specifics, they know how to get us to come back for season 2.