Solid character development on both sides of the conflict at hand. Deeper insights into the Ramseys, the Immunes and an equal look into the outlook of Chandler, Dr. Scott and the Command Crew. Compelling performance by Brían F. O’Byrne.
Some small, convenient plot devices and a few performances that were solid but not perfect.
The Last Ship is tackling a much bigger world problem than we thought. Can you save a world that doesn’t feel the need to be saved?
The Last Ship — With the labs all but destroyed, Captain Chandler (Eric Dane) has his sights set squarely on finding and killing the sub and the crew responsible. Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra) on the other hand, has put all of her energy into finding new ways to manufacture the cure. The two clash, until it is discovered that Dr. Scott’s mentor, Dr. Hunter (Timothy Landfield), has been killed in Florida by associates of the sub. As destroying the sub and safeguarding the cure become synonymous, everyone is faced with the balance between vengeance and the mission to save the world.
Meanwhile, Sean (Brían F. O’Byrne) and Ned (Nick Court) Ramsey continue their deadly mission to reduce the masses to only the Immunes by exposing Niels (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) to anyone they can. To them, those that survive are the special and selected few. The beloved Immunes. As Chandler and team infiltrate the world of the Immunes, they begin to realize that the cause behind the Ramseys stretches far and wide and that incredible challenges may stand in their way to save a world that now sees itself as two sides of a coin—the Immunes and those that are not. With Chandler in the lion’s den, his sense of vengeance could ultimately undermine the mission, but more importantly a deadly clash with Sean is likely on the horizon on The Last Ship!
The Brothers Grimm have descended. With them, comes Death.
We’ve been waiting for a bit more character development for both the Ramsey brothers and after this slow-boil episode we have a clearer picture of who these two brothers are—at least in relation to each other. While Ned certainly seems to be the more emotional and high-strung of the two, Sean, behind the seething performance of Brían F. O’Byrne, is clearly the one of the two with the deepest issues and largest ambition.
We don’t know if there’s any validity behind Ned’s accusation of Sean skirting responsibility at home in order to continue with a plan to rule the world starting with Florida, but clearly Sean didn’t take kindly to the suggestion. In a bizarre exchange with Sean holding a blade to Ned’s face, we see a glimpse of just how off his rocker Sean may truly be. O’Byrne played the part beautifully, and though Nick Court’s jovial response in the end seemed a bit forced, we’re not certain how we’d react to that look in O’Byrne’s eyes ourselves with a blade at our nose.
“I am culling the herd, Ned. And the pure will have a chance to join us. Those who refuse my beneficence will die along with the crew of that Navy ship. Now, you have a choice to make. Do you want to help me? Or do you want to join our beloved mother in the grave?” ~ Sean
Clearly these two brothers have a strained relationship. Nick Court’s frustrated representation of Ned throughout the episode felt a bit unnatural in places, but was mostly a good representation of a brother seemingly overlooked and not understood. O’Byrne on the other hand delivered a chilling and calculated performance end-to-end and in so doing established himself as Chandler’s opposite in all the conflict that will likely occur ahead. With Niels casually “purifying” at an alarming rate, it’s clear that Sean’s world view is a sobering and disturbed one. O’Byrne was excellent throughout. Despite Sean’s apparent charms, he is clearly on a mission to rid the world of those he deems unworthy and that makes him radically dangerous.
We always knew pancakes and Bacon would save the world.
A large fictional world doesn’t feel real unless there is a diverse set of characters that fill it and we understand how all those characters interact with each other and how they each help define the world they exist within. In the case of The Last Ship, though we definitely want to see more depth behind the stories of the main characters, it’s been good to see some back-story elements for other characters that make this world more tangible and believable. Bacon (Amen Igbinosun) is prime example.
Bacon’s protective nature has been on display in small doses throughout the season and seeing glimpses of his character’s motivations outside of simply cooking and playing chess has been refreshing. He’s apparently a rather complex fellow. His caring side certainly came out in providing a weary Dr. Scott with a divinely prepared meal fit for a President during her frustrated attempt to carry on her mentor’s work after his brutal murder.
“You see, the real secret is sifting the flour just right. Too heavy, and the minute it hits that butter, you got yourself a fritter. But you do it right, man, you got yourself a nice, rich sauce. Not too soupy, not too thick.” ~ Bacon
“Oh, my God. It’s completely delicious.” ~ Dr. Scott
“Oh, ma’am, you haven’t even tried it.” ~ Bacon
“I need a food base. If I can isolate it and have it adhere to the vaccine and form the micro powder. Thank you, Bacon. Thank you!” ~ Dr. Scott
Amen Igbinosun has had some very stout moments this season and it was nice to see a different side of Bacon in this episode. Characters other than the main cast have helped propel the plot this year. Bits and pieces of those characters becoming more well-rounded with life goals and varied experiences is a nice touch by the writing team and in particular with this story by William L. Rotko and a teleplay by Steven Kane.
Just as they’ve successfully expanded the universe with a much larger and ambitious story, they’ve also managed to interject some wonderful character background. In particular, Bacon’s delivery of inspiration to Dr. Scott, that ultimately leads to pancake mix as the food-base she needs for an airborne cure, was well crafted with character motivation and a richer background for him. Kudos Steven Kane. Now, just don’t fry Bacon. We like him on this show. His “lost” look during the chemistry discussion was priceless.
There she blows! The white whale surfaces.
If there was a larger theme to this episode, it was spoken directly to Chandler by his loyal companion CMC Jeter (Charles Parnell). Vengeance became the narrow focus of Chandler after the actions by the Ramseys dashed hopes of a worldwide spread of the cure in a quick and easy manner. In the aftermath of sifting through Dr. Hunter’s destroyed lab, a moment of utmost respect and clarity emerged between the two men starting with Chandler’s adamant stance on where the mission should go next.
“Whoever did this may have already swept through Europe, and we cannot allow them to get a foothold here in America, and we can’t keep looking over our shoulder for that sub. We find them, we make it safe for Dr. Scott to finish her work. This is all the same mission now.” ~ Chandler
“Fair enough. But I can see it in your eyes, sir. Your desire for vengeance. So I’m asking, as a man who is never more than 509 feet from his captain, don’t let this sub become your white whale.” ~ Jeter
As stoic and close to the vest as Eric Dane has played Chandler through most moments, we could see it in his eyes as well. Vengeance was lurking deep in his mind and an unnatural fixation was forming on this sub, and its Commander, as the mythical beast that represented everything Chandler opposed. Anarchy, brutality and a host of other traits made the sub, and Sean Ramsey, the manifestation of a world Chandler clearly was intent on preventing, but hearing himself loosely compared to Ahab by one of his most trusted confidants must have struck a chord. We’ll be anxious to see what notes it contains as the season continues to heat up.
Both Dane and Parnell made this moment work to perfection. Dane was his stoic self, with just that right touch of fire under the surface and Charles Parnell has been one of our favorite actors on this show from day one for a reason—moments like these. His reverence, respect and wisdom have often been the voice that has crystallized the direction this show, and individual episodes, have taken. Parnell always delivers with conviction and compassion extremely well where called for and this was no exception.
As the voice that often speaks aloud the central themes and ideas of this show, Parnell was wonderful in this moment and later as he expressed concern for his shipmates. Jeter’s love of the Navy and his tremendous respect for his Captain came through. Fantastic dialogue and a magnificent delivery solidified the idea of vengeance that came full circle at the end of the episode as Chandler stared down the Ramseys with an intensity that only comes from one that desires swift and terrible retribution.
FINAL VERDICT: The pieces for a dangerous game were maneuvered into place before the inevitable showdown between Sean Ramsey and Captain Chandler in this brimming episode of The Last Ship.
If killing those in the labs to prevent the manufacture of a cure in order to maintain the purity of the Immunes was a brutal move, sending Niels on a death march walk-about to expose unsuspecting victims in order to cull the herd and find more Immunes is another level of intimate cruelty. Ebon Moss-Bachrach’s jovial and dismissive portrayal of Niels on his quest to expose the unsuspecting to the crucible of the deadly virus has been disturbing, but combined with Sean’s passion for purification and world domination it is down right frightening. With an Immune President (Mark Moses) in their midst, they seem poised to make waves and perhaps even control a puppet government that has no real power or backbone.
Two brothers on a mission to cleanse the world of the impure and with a willing Niels embracing his role presents a horrific uphill climb for the crew of the Nathan James. The writing team has successfully expanded a world that consisted mostly of just the ship in Season One and in so doing, Writers William L. Rotko and Steven Kane combined to give us a deeper understanding of many of the characters on both sides of this conflict. That’s not always something that’s easy to do and we’ve been impressed with how well dialogue and movement of the plot has both grown the world and the characters simultaneously. That takes conscious effort and the benefits can be seen on screen.
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Veteran Director Paul Holahan, who also directed last season’s “El Toro”, once again helped craft a solid and entertaining hour that captured the nuances between characters well. Getting to see both the expansion of the larger world and conflict set the stage for a much more daunting task for the Nathan James than we ever expected, but simultaneously weaving the moments in that helped shape and define characters made this episode a good one. As a self-professed lover of character drama, Holahan orchestrated quality character interactions and moments that may affect each of the main characters going forward.
Overall this episode, which could best be characterized as a slow burn with dramatic character moments to move the needle for several people, was an entertaining and intense view into the larger world of The Last Ship. Chandler and Sean Ramsey are certainly on a collision course and ultimately there can be only one winner in that clash. Their world views will never come close to meshing and no level of reconciliation is possible after all the Ramseys have done and demonstrated they are capable of doing. They may be among the fortunate few, but we’d certainly like to know why there are always radical crazy people hell-bent on insanity that survive fictional apocalypses. We don’t know the answer to that other than they make for great conflict and even better stories. We do know this. We’ll be looking forward to more of both next week on The Last Ship!
Questions, Comments, Concerns and My Reaction on Twitter…
- Ned. It ain’t no act. I believe that 100%, which makes him dangerous.
- That reaper is going to help us find more immunes. Just by breathing on them. This dude is nuts.
- We NEED to stay on course or millions more are going to die. Listen to her CO.
- Bigger fish? I think someone has lost sight.
- Find the cure. Save the world. Remember? The woman is right.
- Ugh. That whiteboard wasn’t so white anymore. These bastards need to die.
- I’m glad Miller at least remember to say something because this hurt her deeply.
- Don’t let this sub become your white whale. I heart Jeter. More than 140 characters can say.
- When you find the ones who did this. Kill them. Vengeance is spreading.
- I’m still quite contagious. It won’t be long now. He’s embraced his role as all Four Horseman hasn’t he?
- Nothing like a blade at your nose to change your tune. #BrotherlyLove
- He solved it. He gave his life to tell me. That man gets a statue if this works and the world survives.
- Now we wait. See where they lead us. Follow the little fish, to find the big fish. Shit is about to get real. 😉
- Bacon just saved their bacon again. BOOM!
- You sure about this. That look. lol
- Take off your clothes. Well, he’s been waiting for her to say that.
- Does anyone think somewhere in the writer’s room someone said: “We need everyone take shirts off” DONE. lol
- Bye bye buoy. #Silence
- Here we go… Um, what’s that nutty lady buzzing on? Did we all miss out on the meds rations? o.O
- We got shit to do. Damn right we do.
- It was a hell of a winter. Somehow I think Tex is telling truth there. 😉
- I told you brother. I have a plan. This just got deeply disturbing.
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