A different kind of soylent green.
What They Say:
No Place Like Home – Chandler and his crew return home; a warlord threatens the restoration of law and order; Chandler sets out to save his family.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Last Ship brings its first season to a close where you find yourself waiting to see what twist there will be to set things up for the second season, which will be getting thirteen episodes next summer. With the vaccine apparently figured out and the first round of trials done and more explored with it, we had a good look at what went on within the ship as well as some nods to Chandler’s family as the sickness ended up infecting them and making things pretty dire there when we pick up with them this week. The sickness is moving fast through though with the grandfather blind and losing it from frustration, Chandler’s wife bedridden and falling apart while his son is panicking over trying to keep her awake so she doesn’t die in her sleep, leaving him all alone. It’s brief, but has some good tension and fear driving it.
With the crew getting the vaccine, the plan is to head to Detrick in order to get to the facilities there to try and mass produce and distribute the vaccine and expand on helping people out. There’s a lot of uncertainty about what’s going on out there of course since they’ve been avoiding any kind of main civilized area and have been on the fringes. So when they get closer and tap into a satellite in order to get a look at Detrick and what’s around there, they discover that things have gone pretty badly. Mass evacuations, facilities they need having a massive red x visible from the satellite to warn people in power to stay away and a whole lot of destruction in general. It’s certainly a more expected look at the nature of the world at this point and the way things have fallen apart, which is reinforced on the ground with the bands of survivors that have formed to try and keep themselves going.
While events are looking bad across the board, they do manage to come into contact with some form government as someone from the Defense Policy board is still out there and was aware of how dangerous things could become early on and used her connections to get her daughter on the Nathan James. She fills Chandler in on some of what’s happened, but it’s all very, very superficial in general but it becomes clear that she had been pinning all her hopes on the ship and what Dr. Scott could end up doing there in coming up with a vaccine. There’s a little good news mixed into it to be sure, but there’s still that sense as it unfolds and the scale of the problem becomes clearer, it looks more and more like a huge undertaking ahead – if things hold. Once you put power in the hands of other people to maintain control, it’s hard for them to give it up or to even allow things to return to some sense of normalcy.
We get to see that kind of issue quickly when Chandler’s team starts making a landing in Baltimore to meet with the state troopers that are working with the provisional government. They’re watching more than anything, but when Granderson makes her way out, a rare sighting outside of protection, they want to take her out but realize they have only one shot and it won’t actually work. That sets up the competing aspects of the survivors in Baltimore, but you also get the sense that things are going to be a bit involved as the personalities come out and not everything is as it seems. Part of the appeal of all of this though is to have the team back on land in somewhat familiar settings and coping with seeing what the world looks like after the virus has ravaged it all so badly. They’ve seen the horrors out there, but it takes on an even more intense and personal feeling because it’s their homeland.
The idea of an array of warlords setting up shop certainly isn’t a surprise and it makes a sense that you can work with since people will look to authority figures, or people with a certain confidence level and the materials to back it all up, and give them the authority to lead and take control. We get a couple of decent nods towards these warlords and what’s going on, but also understand how the warlords are thinking since the knowledge that if she does gain the cure, she’ll spread out throughout the city, gain more to her side and then everything that the warlords have built will collapse. The sides are lined up easily enough and all, but the show takes a more personal tone as you get people like Chandler wanting to focus more on their families and finding them. It’s certainly understandable, but with Granderson talking about getting everyone off the ship, it just feels rushed and forced to get them on land. I can understand Chandler wanting to get his people off the ship for awhile, but there’s also that sense that as a captain, he’d want to keep them back until he’s truly, fully sure that things are safe.
Things start to pick up a bit more in a way when Chandler is doing the radio search for his father and ends up finding him and heads off to try and save him and his family since apparently Jed managed to get them to Baltimore. But things take a nasty turn when they discover that they’re actually at the Olympia sports rena and Granderson’s people won’t go there since it’s for the sick people only. That causes quite the bit of chaos and bloodshed among those on the same side and puts Chandler with a few others on their own. Granderson certainly feels like she’s playing a big game here, since she’s gained power just as much as the warlords have, and she’s looking at all the angles in order to secure her position. The balance of power is starting to reveal itself to be sure and the first guess that Granderson is more than she seems is certainly the safe one.
There’s some decent character material thrown into the episode to try and put some change and motion to things. With Tex, he realizes that he hasn’t a shot with Rachel and opts to head out on his own, though not before he forces himself on her with a passionate kiss to at least have a touch of what he was hoping for. Chandler’s discovery of his family has him ecstatic to find his kids to be sure and that’s definitely a great moment, but it’s tinged with some real loss as his wife didn’t survive. We also get to see some of how things are changing on board the Nathan James as Granderson’s men are taking control of the ship, violently, and how Granderson has spent her time in power finding ways to eliminate those with the virus as they can’t be trusted to do the right thing in their dying days. She’s working from a particular view of how to keep the species surviving, but it ends up eliminating a whole lot of the humanity of it all as well.
The Last Ship has a pretty good concept behind it, reworked from the original nuclear fallout world that as envisioned, and the idea of the virus and what’s involved makes for a pretty good story to work with. But how long can it go on? Thankfully, the virus is going to be an important part of things but seeing how the world adapts, changes and stays the same is what the next season looks like it could be about and that should be a lot of fun. THere’s a lot of things that are put at risk and in uncertainty here and that makes for a good episode as we get discovers, secrets revealed and some pretty dark moments ahead for the crew to have to deal with. It does go with a cliffhanger of course, but with it previously being announced that it was getting a slightly expanded second season, it leaves me pretty hopeful. Watching this season in contrast with Falling Skies, it shows so many ways you could go and does it right. It’s not top flight entertainment, but it’s solidly enjoyable and handles itself well and really feels like it has a plan ahead of it that’s filled with lots of options. I’m more enthused now at the last episode than I was during any of the others for the series future.