Warning: Spoiler Alert
Michener: This is President Jeffrey Michener addressing all Americans from the Navy ship the USS Nathan James. Which is now entering the heart of this nation. The Mississippi River. We are survivors of this great plague. Just as you are. We have struggled, just as you have. And we still have great hope in the future, just as you do. I know that you’ve stayed alive this long by telling yourselves and your families, that living in fear, of the virus and of others. Fear of the unknown. There have been people out there who have taken advantage of that. Despicable rumors and misleading videos have been broadcast from this network. Lies designed to manipulate you. To make you believe that this ship and the people on it are your enemy. Nothing could be further from the truth. The men and women on this ship are some of the bravest and noblest that I have ever met. And it is an outrage that their commitment to bring all of us the cure has been undermined by those who thrive on your fear. I can tell you now that we do have the cure for the Red Flu. Attached to this message is video footage so you can see for yourself, our doctor tending to and curing patients sick with the virus. It is our mission now to spread this cure to as many of you as we can. (A list of stops and times along the Mississippi River) It’s time to turn the tide, end the bloodshed, put the pain behind us, and begin to heal this great nation. All of us. Together. Thank you.
XO Slattery begins to debrief those in the room on the new power structure of the Immunes. This brings back the Pastor who appeared to be working for the Ramseys. Slattery is under the assumption that Kevin McDowell (pastor) is the new ringleader. There has been some speculation that McDowell always was the man in charge, but we’ll tie that down later. McDowell still has the ability to broadcast over the ‘Deadman’ network, so there is some concern. Dr. Scott then explains how the contagious cure will work. The cure resides in moisture. Miller and men at large thank TNT for what comes next. Dr. Scott, using Miller, gives a demonstration of some ways to effectively spread the cure. Shaking hands, breathing, mixing of saliva. That last one prompting Tex to suggest kissing, which practically speaking, would work.
There is a concern among some of the crew that broadcasting their location to the country with next to no artillery on board, may be the virtuous way to go but also a risky one.
Michener video conferences with McDowell following his offer to pardon any Immune leaders to cooperate going forward. McDowell seems confident still while Michener’s tone is slightly more defiant. McDowell tries to rile Michener by bringing up Michener’s emotional moment when McDowell found him. McDowell claims he will get out of their ‘hair’ for now, but these two men have unfinished business.
Granderson escorts Jeter to the communications room. A call has come in over an open channel from Jeter’s wife’s family. They want to get permission (essentially) to travel to Vicksburg, the Nathan James’ first publicized stop. Their current situation is safe. He asks for them to stay put and wait for him to come and get them in a couple of weeks.
Tex approaches Dr. Scott on the deck. Centuries have been posted every six feet. This is where Tex chooses to inform her that once they make port, he will go his own way. AGAIN. Tex just needs to wrap his head around the fact that he is a part of the Nathan James and quit trying to find reasons to part ways. He will find his daughter. Eventually. Not trying to be cruel, just selfish. He aims to find her, but it may take more than 8 days. Dr. Scott lets him know that an arrangement for an additional dosage or two is not out of the question.
As the Nathan James approaches Vicksburg, there is next to no one there. 127 by count when they were hoping for closer to 10,000. 127 is not nearly enough to create the chain reaction from the contagious cure as Dr. Scott was hoping for. Tex hears this. Chandler approaches but before he can say anything, Tex offers an extension to his service. Now I’m the jerk for not wanting him to leave the ship.
Tex: If things are going south, I can stick around.
Chandler: Find your girl, Tex.
Tex: Meet me in Saint Louie Louie.
McDowell and his cronies have some kind of plan to execute. At present, they are transporting a number of infected people by way of what looks like a refrigeration truck.
Tex heads out on a good old-fashioned chopper (motorcycle not aircraft). He pulls up to a farm where a man aims a shotgun right at Tex. Problem is Tex has seen too much to be scared off by a shotgun and an old man. States his business, naming his daughter and her mother by name. This changes the man’s tune slightly. The man and Tex identify each other as family. Kat eventually heading towards Memphis to see if the cure thing was real. Claire is a different story. About three months ago, looters came in the night. Claire was the first one down. She took out the looters with one shot. Tex pays his respects to the man dug grave and tells the old man who the news is true about the cure and the ship. Tex shakes his hand and pulls him close before walking away.
Michener and Chandler discuss plans in St. Louis. Up to and including using St. Louis’ still standing infrastructure as a likely site for the new National Capitol. Then Jeter knocks on the door with a confession of sorts. The reaction was stern, palpable, but eventually Chandler thanked him for informing them before dismissing him. Michener is much less quick to absolve Jeter of his wrongdoing.
Tex rolls up on a gas station. He barely dismounts his hog before realizing the dead bodies. There is one man still clinging to life. An infected man who was brought from Tallahassee to be planted to spread the virus again…by the Immunes. Tex gets close. Takes a drink from a water bottle then passes it to the sick man. The Immunes plan is to take these infected people to Memphis. Counter balance the attempts by the Nathan James.
McDowell’s men begin escorting and in some cases wheeling in the sick wearing US Navy uniforms.
Tex beats arrives at the College Of Memphis with a bull horn. He scales a car and starts calling out for Kathleen. She hears her own name is seconds. Overjoyed, they share an embrace. Tex delivers a very real and emotional performance that takes the viewer from completely fine to more than misty in about 12 seconds. This whole thing about finding his daughter (after ensuring she was alright) was about forgiveness for Tex.
The actual ground team finds the Immunes posing in ‘navy’ blue right about the time Tex calls in that he has eyes on McDowell. McDowell and his second wheel a sick man into the bulk of the crowd to claim they are here to deliver the virus. Naturally, instant panic sets in. No one in the crowd noticed that these men were not in military shape, that the uniforms didn’t fit properly or that McDowell’s second saluted lazily and with the wrong hand. The tact team and Tex start picking off impostors. The second runs back to warn McDowell. At that moment Wolf jumps in like a UFC fighter. He is covered by Green and the rest of the team taking out every impostor except for McDowell. Wolf gets right in McDowell’s face as if to convey, “The only reason you’re still breathing is because I allow it.”
The helo is less than three miles away with the aerosol version of the cure when Green calls in to say that a mix of infected and healthy people are trying to break contain. The helo arrives just as Green, Burk and separately Tex convince to mob to stay put. “Just breathe it in”.
Wolf (to McDowell): Breathe it in.
Miller (to McDowell): Yeah, just breathe it in @&%hole. Now we’re all immune.
With McDowell now secured on the loading deck, Michener spells out what will happen next. Despite what McDowell thinks, he is at this point, out manned. This game of infecting people with the virus or the cure is a game his is steadily losing. The deal on the table is to get McDowell to help by getting his men to stand down so they can spread the cure. Then maybe, some day, McDowell will see his own freedom again. Just before the commercial break, McDowell asks about one of those “pardons” that Michener extended others along the way for cooperation.
The Nathan James approaches the port of St. Louis on fumes. The numbers on the port are staggeringly large by comparison to previous stops. At the base of the arch is a sea of people. Young and old, male and female of all backgrounds and types. What follows is a heartwarming montage of various members of the Nathan James (including Val) passing along the cure however they can. Including Miller passing it along to a young lady using the exchange of saliva method. In this moment, the message is to heal America. Not some of it, all of it, regardless of nothing.
Although it was telegraphed slightly, a small surprise of Tex introducing his daughter Kat to Dr. Scott amidst the crowd. If I may interject my own selfish ‘shipping’ angle. Dr. Scott is enthused to meet Kat. So much so that it almost suggests how a would be step mother to be may embrace the new step daughter at their first meeting. Not saying that’s what TNT will do, but it’s what I would do. The emotions don’t stop there. Jeter’s in-laws show up and are escorted by Granderson. Any mention to the in-laws has all been met with some level of trepidation, as if Jeter was never welcomed by them. There is something missing to the equation. Whether I missed it along the way or it was held back intentionally. There is a moment that almost trumps that of Kat and Dr. Scott. These in-laws basically apologize for never reaching out. Jeter claims they never could. They refute that notion by saying they just didn’t. The father-in-law with tears streaming and a long felt embrace would follow.
The next scene is one I think most of us have been waiting for. With an old relic cannon and American flags as the backdrop, President Michener is sworn in. Hand on the bible and in front of thousands of witnesses.
A ballroom of sailors in their dress uniforms is a welcomed but awkward sight. Chandler thanks Michener for the ball, something that is not that unlike similar moments of celebrations put on by more popular and well-known Presidents that came before him. Michener wastes no time getting to the next thing. Attempting to promote CDR Tom Chandler to Chief of Naval Operations. This is the set up for season 3. While it seems the south-east region of the country is on its way to repairing and healing, the same cannot be said for the Northeast and other populated regions of the country.
Michener: We have a nation to build and a world to repair, and there’s no one I trust more.
Chandler: Sounds like an order…
Michener: It is. Tonight, we rest and enjoy our success. Tomorrow, the fight for America and the rest of the world begins.
Green tells a story about a mission involving himself, Frankie and hostile Hungarians to a captive audience of his peers, Lt. Foster among them. The story ends with Frankie coming down the rope dressed as Santa Claus to give gifts to the Hungarians. That was Frankie Benz. One of their men lost in the process. This begins a cascade of toasts to fallen sailors or anyone that helped and was lost along the way.
Dr. Scott intercepts Chandler as he attempts to slip into his room early. She had an envelope she hoped to slip under his door before making a slip of her own. She will be on a plane first thing to begin doing a doctor’s work elsewhere. Recently pardoned by President Michener, there is nothing preventing her from doing so. They play out this game of ‘what if’ citing that he would have stood by his decision, she would’ve fought it. He would’ve given her a sterling character reference as would the other 204 men and women aboard the Nathan James.
If they ended it there, I would have been content. But instead, their conversation leads more in a flirtatious direction. Not flirtatious in the way Tex is with Dr. Scott, this is much more intentional. Dr. Scott advances and Tom Chandler is unwavering. There are a few different times in this short span where words or body language or even tone suggests, that both parties or on board with where this is going. Then predictably, following the Rachel and Ross rule that I despise so much, Dr. Scott hands over the envelope and walks away.
Chandler (as she walks away): Be safe. When you get back….Find me.
Down in the ballroom, the men and women of the Nathan James continue in their celebration. Now more than slightly affected by the alcohol and the old Navy songs they loudly sang together. They get through the first verse, then Burk stands up and takes the reins individualizing the song to fit the Nathan James. All are happy in the moment, but that is about to reach another uptick when Lt. Green nonchalantly opens a ring case, extends it towards Lt. Foster and asks, “Is now a good time?” Clearly, he talks too much.
Dr. Scott is almost to her room when a familiar voice approaches. McDowell’s number 2. He slowly advances and senses something wrong. His story of wanting the cure from her for history sake didn’t help either. He asks how close he needs to be, then she say close enough. He stops, pauses, then pulls out a gun and shoots her. But before pulling the trigger he quotes another mislead agent in our country’s past.
“Sic semper tyrannis!” The same latin shouted by John Wilkes Booth before shooting Abraham Lincoln. “Thus always to tyrants!”