Ruskov’s in control of the situation… for now.
What They Say:
Two Sailors Walk Into A Bar… – Slattery must step into the role of commanding officer and find a way to get his people back without losing the vaccine prototype.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having Chandler picked up at the last minute rescue with Tex last time was definitely expected, though I’ll admit I was pleasantly surprised that it was the Russian ship that grabbed them. That provides a nice bit of change of pace for things both with the Russian side of things and what’s going on with the Nathan James. Having picked up someone that was immune to the virus is a big boost for Rachel in figuring things out, but the ship itself is going to be in a different state of emotions and function with Chandler gone, and that means Slattery has to step up and take command while juggling several things, including the obvious desire to get Chandler back. And Chandler will want to get back as we see from the prologue that the Russian ship isn’t going to be a pleasure cruise for him or Tex.
He does get to do a little good right off the bat though as he’s introduced to Kelly and Ava and he’s able to tell them that her husband is alive. That provides a bit of hope that the pair didn’t have before but also a potential pair of people to help and support along the way. Not that Ruskov doesn’t expect that, but he’s intent on trying to keep some of the standard naval protocols out there and have a genial conversation between captains so they can find a bit of common ground. Ruskov is kind of amusing in a gallows humor way here as he makes it clear that the world has ended and Chandler’s hanging onto the threads of the old world is plain silly, noting that not only do the Geneva Conventions not exist anymore, but Geneva itself doesn’t exist anymore. But Chandler is that stoic American Naval man and he’s not intent on giving anything up for the most part at this point until he can figure out a change in his situation to work with.
Things are naturally chaotic on board the Nathan James of course as Slattery is stepping up to take on the role, temporarily, and do what they can to find out where Chandler is. During this, we also get a little more with Bertrise and her role in things that has given Rachel some renewed hope towards the vaccine. But that’s all in a somewhat precarious position now as Ruskov obviously wants to make the trade of Chandler for Rachel and her work, which isn’t a surprise, but Ruskov is making a hard play to get what he wants and is showing his best cards, though it’s hard to imagine him attacking the ship knowing that it would likely end in the vaccines destruction. That said, Ruskov isn’t exactly rational in a lot of ways and it’s easy to imagine him figuring out something else or just surviving with what he has for as long as he can.
In an interesting and admittedly foolish play, with Rachel believing she has the vaccine prototype, she’s opted to go over to Ruskov herself with a sample to serve as the exchange. Slattery and the others arm her up a bit so she has some protection, but with no real testing done and just one monkey, giving her up is a pretty stupid idea, plain and simple. Even if she explains it all to the other doctor, there’s still so many way things can go wrong or different issues that can come up that going to Ruskov just raises all the right red flags. Her arrival on the ship is rather amusing to watch once it gets going since she confirms Chandler is alive by pretty much sticking her tongue deep down his throat. Poor Tex. Ruskov is at least amused though. What shocks Rachel though is that as she gets introduced to Niels, she understands that he’s the one that added the human gene to things that made it far more dangerous, and became the patient zero for everything.
Rachel makes some decent accusations here, including the fact that the world is down four billion people, and it puts a real strain on both of them at this point. With the bit of flashback material we got before and the little twists along the way here, it’s pretty nicely handled. There’s a lot of decent little moments as it goes on, with Ruskov sacrificing his brother with the vaccine sample that Rachel brought, and seeing Chandler and Tex put their escape plan into motion using the little advantage that Rachel slipped into Chandler’s mouth during that long kiss, which also included the nod towards when the Nathan James will be pulling their little exfil mission to get everyone back. There’s a lot of things in play and it handles it well in both the first half and the second half with how it wants to get it all out there. It is fun to see how Chandler and Tex handle things once on the move as there is a decent bit of professionalism about them once they get their hands on some weapons and make their way through. It’s not a hugely filled ship of Russians, but they have a few and the odds get better when the Nathan James team arrives to help corral everyone and make their way out.
While they go through, you have to grin at what will be happening as a lot of explosives are planted and Chandler does the right thing of grabbing Kelly and Ava as well and then separating from them to go and get Rachel. Rachel is having a challenging time herself as she ends up in a situation where she has to kill one of the Russian officers and is then prepared to kill Niels as well for what he’s done, but knows that doing so pretty much kills all of them. You don’t expect her to do it, but she comes across as pretty panicked and stressed by the situation – her first kill by weapon – that you can’t be sure that she’ll keep it together. Luckily, the team arrives to whisk her away and there’s a kind of amused impressed nature about them as they realize what she’s done. It’s going to up her cred a little bit, which will definitely help in future endeavours.
There’s a nice bit of cat and mouse that shifts back and forth across the last act here as Ruskov thinks he has the upper hand in trapping them, but the explosives planted and the numerous sailors taken down along the way are making things more complicated and giving the Nathan James team a little bit of an edge. But it stays to pretty tense as it goes with some nice minor twists that keeps everyone jumping as they race for their preferred conclusion to events. The Navy men do come across as several levels of skill above the Russians, which makes you cringe a bit since that’s kind of old school approach to things like this, but we get some decent stuff with Rachel cowering and feeling genuinely afraid and the growing chaos of the explosions around the ship as well as the race comes to a close.
The Last Ship has its stupid moments here, even if they are part of the plan, but for the most part the show is firing on all cylinders here and that makes it work well. There’s plenty of good tension, a nice potential twist towards the end that shakes up the villain side a bit, some losses on the Nathan James side and some decent growth among a number of the main cast of characters. The action is kept tense as events progress, making it easy to stay pretty engaged throughout the whole episode, which hasn’t always been true. There’s a lot to like here and I could definitely use more episodes of this nature in the shows run.