The Last Ship: Every Soldier Needs Someone To Salute

Courtesy of TNT
Courtesy of TNT

Warning: Spoiler Alert

We begin tonight with newly named ‘President’ voicing his complaints, up to and including accusations of treason.  Dr. Scott has been brought up to speed on Niels’ condition, we assume after her conversation with Tex at the conclusion of last week’s episode.  It also seems clear that not everyone is in the loop on the specifics of the Nathan James’ newest addition.  The ship’s leadership trio discusses the sensitive nature of what happens next.  Will the ‘President’ gladly come over to the cause of the Nathan James?  Continue fighting to get back to the cause of the Immunes?  Or is there something larger at play?

XO Slattery pays the President a visit where he is being held.  Despite his refusal to speak with anyone besides the Captain, Slattery continues.  First playing him a message from the second in the line of succession (formerly Speaker of the House).  This message only states the current status of the government, but it does make it clear that the Nathan James is in a position of authority on some level.  A claim that the Ramsey’s cannot make.

The second message is from the Secretary of the Navy, a familiar friend and colleague to the former head of HUD.  This message further place the Nathan James in a position of authority.  Furthermore, it shows a superior to both Michener and the men serving on the Nathan James giving the Nathan James an order for a mission to be carried out.  Another claim the Ramseys cannot make.

A third message is from Dr. Hunter to Dr. Scott on the subject of how to mass produce the cure.  The above mission was to cure as many as possible to restore the country and by some extension the government.  A mission that was terrorized by Ramsey’s men.  The obvious didn’t need to be pointed out.  The gunman on that message was Ned Ramsey and his men.  All because the Ramsey’s and their “Immunes” believe they are the inheritors of the earth.  Misinterpreting scripture (or whatever) to suit their own ends.

Slattery leaves two flash drives at Michener’s disposal, experiment data and ship’s logs to support Slattery’s claims.  What Michener does with them when left alone should tell the Captain, who has been watching from a video feed the entire time, a great deal.  He paces before sitting at the computer.  Instead of inserting one of the flash drives Slattery left, he insert a flash drive of his own.  This flash drive shows a video of a Sean Ramsey speech.  The composition of the video suggests something nefarious.

Chandler finally joins Michener who abruptly removes his flash drive.  Chandler cannot ask for the flash drive and reveal he’d been spying on Michener, so he closes and removes the laptop instead.  With each and every mention of evidence to the Nathan James’ cause, Michener dismisses them as if they were all fabricated.  Chandler retorts that regardless of what he believes, their orders fall in line with protocols consistent with national interests. Michener believes the Immunes are the best chance for survival.  Instead of pushing back, Chandler quite simply asks Michener to, “Convince him”.

Michener tells his story.  From the directive he was given by the elected President, through the outbreak, and discovery that he was an Immune.  Sean’s ‘vision’ boils down a Hitler-espque master race.  Not exactly the angle you want to take when convincing any level-headed person of anything.  Just before this meeting falls off the rails, Chandler is able to misdirect just enough to convince Michener to spill some of the intel that Slattery believes must be priority one.

The next step is New Orleans.  After Katrina, the government put into place certain fail safes to ensure such a large-scale incident wouldn’t happen again.  New Orleans is to be ground zero for the rebuilding of the country.  Chandler stops this line of questioning to redirect again.  He tries to cast doubt on Michener’s convictions by suggesting that Sean has already begun moving west towards New Orleans without him.  Michener is not willing to consider that he is not as big a piece of Sean’s plan as he’d like to believe, even if it was a bluff on Chandler’s part.  He suggests that he is a prisoner to which Chandler claims he is not.  Then there is a long pause after Michener asks, “then I’m free to go?”

The notion that it was ‘impossible’ that the sub would be on the move was peculiar.  Enough so to sway the Nathan James’ leadership to question if they have sustained enough damage to literally make movement impossible.  Chandler orders Slattery to move the ship outward, but quietly.  While they gained the intel they were looking for, there is a concern that any hope of turning Michener away from the Ramsey’s cause may have been lost.  Gaining his trust now becomes the new direction.

Chandler ventures to Michener’s quarters to take another swing.  This time he begins with honesty about the tactics used to gain the intel as to the sub’s location.  Now it’s time to sweeten the pot by creating a narrative more alluring and heroic than that of the Ramsey’s.  Chandler begins in on his own virus back story.  The loss of this wife, not even getting to hold her hand before she passed. The image of his children watching her die.  Finding his children in an extermination camp. This mission he did not ask for and how all of it creates meaning.  He tries to create empathy.  Right before he turns to leave, Michener admits that he did get to hold his son’s hand as he slipped away toward death.  Michener takes Chandler through each member of his family dying before him.  It feels like Michener is just about turn when there is a knock at the door.  CMC Jeter has something Chandler needs to hear. Michener seems to refocus out of the moment.

The message he needs to hear is a publicly heard message on an FM frequency warning anyone and everyone to avoid contact with the Nathan James.  Suggesting that their ‘cure’ is either a new strain of the virus or an experimental drug.  Bottom line, avoid them or fight them.

The mental images and sounds of the memories shared of Michener’s loss weigh heavily on him.  Chandler runs through Michener’s file and discovers something relating to his family.  His children specifically.  Chandler intends to bring this information to Michener’s attention, but Michener is not in his quarters.  Ultimately, Chandler finds Tex standing watch outside the men’s head.  After no response, Chandler breaks in the door only to find Michener bleeding out from self-inflicted wounds to his wrists.  Chandler applies pressure to those wounds while he awaits medical attention.

Dr. Scott seems to have him stabilized.  Concealing the incident from the crew is a notion not easily accepted considering that was the catalyst of a previous mistake.  Chandler believes the radio message about avoiding the Nathan James makes the President’s safety and his allegiance to the Nathan James’ cause paramount.

When Michener wakes, Chandler doesn’t hesitate to start in on the why.  Before they grabbed Michener last week, Chandler said if he has power he can be manipulated.  Chandler has found his vulnerable spot.  Michener’s emotional attachment.  Chandler suggests that Michener must face what he can’t let go of.  Michener shouts back that there is nothing to let go of, but in this case, Chandler’s holding all of the cards.

Michener preemptively removed his son from Ann Arbor and brought him to the stadium in Tallahassee.  Michener was responsible for more deaths than just his family’s.  Once he accepts that responsibility, it was easy to embrace the story that Sean Ramsey gave him.  Chandler almost begs Michener to share with him what makes it something he can’t understand.  Being responsible for is one thing.  Actually executing the deed first hand is something else entirely.  After his son died, Michener’s wife asked him to put his daughters out of their own misery before it got worse.  So in their sleep, Michener smothered them to death.  One of them even woke up mid act.  His daughter’s last memory was her father killing her.  How does someone live with that?

Chandler tries to match Michener’s story and tone.  Not in a one-upmanship short of way, but in an empathetic “I feel your pain” sort of way.  Eric Dane even manages to squeeze out a tear or two.

Michener:  What do you say about that?  How do I live with that?

Chandler:  I’ve killed people.  More than I can count now.  Some of them were firmly aligned against us with the worst of intentions.  Some of them were just caught up in the madness that all of this has created, just trying to survive.  We’ve all done things that are hard to live with.  So let this be your redemption if it needs to be, because it might be mine.

(Michener gives a subtle head nod)

In the ship’s briefing room Michener begins telling Chandler, Slattery, Jeter, Dr. Scott, and now Garnett what he knows of the sub’s condition, plans and communication capabilities.  Slattery asks for the red flash drive which Michener turns over quickly and willingly.  A clear sign of intention.  Dr. Scott then turns to the teddy bear device.  It didn’t seem needed, but important to show just how misguided Sean’s men are.  Michener had no idea they were intentionally infecting children in order to weed out the immunes.

The group leaves Michener and Chandler to themselves where Chandler makes it very clear that their emotional sharing from earlier will stay between them.  Then a moment that must have come with a great swelling of pride for all involved, Chandler shows Michener to his new quarters.  It’s a much larger room.  The first image of note is a hand painted Presidential seal.  A desk that is as close to the Resolute Desk as one might find on an US Navy Destroyer.  All of the crew in the room stops what they’re doing to address him as “Mr. President”.  Chung informs the President that the room is operational.

The room is decorated with images found in the White House.  Computer printouts, but still the effect is there. Aside from the aesthetic of the room, Chandler has given some of his own clothes and affects to help add the feel of normalcy.  There seems to be a genuine sense of gratitude.  From both men.  Chandler then stands at attention and salutes the new President of the United States.  President Michener returns the gesture.

Courtesy of TNT
Courtesy of TNT

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