Folks who know me, know I’m a fan of Rhona Mitra. I’ll watch pretty much anything she’s in…whether it’s good or not. So it’s no mystery that my DVR was set to record TNT’s new summer post-apocalyptic-drama The Last Ship, two months ago. I’ve been waiting for this show since the rumor-mill started last year.
The Last Ship is the latest from director Michael Bay and chronicles the crew of a U.S. Navy ship amidst a global pandemic. The show is based on a novel of the same name by William Brinkley. On board the ship is Dr. Rachel Scott, played by Mitra, a British paleomicrobiologist, in search of a cure.
Oh, and the cool stuff? The pilot episode was filmed on board a REAL Navy ship. (Other episodes are filmed on a set because let’s face it, those ships are a little cramped). The Navy, apparently, acted as an adviser for the show. So everything you see is accurate, or at least as accurate as possible. Pretty nifty!
SPOILER ALERT!! READ NO FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE PILOT!
You’ve been warned.
Ready to go? Alrighty then.
When the episode starts, we’re introduced to the main characters. Dr. Scott (Mitra), the ship’s captain, Commander Tom Chandler (Eric Dane), and the XO or Second-in-Command, Mike Slattery (Adam Baldwin). The ship is on its way to the Arctic for what the crew thinks is weapons tests and for Dr. Scott to check out some cold-weather seagulls. Ok, Arctic Terns. For four months they have to maintain radio silence. Just when they think their mission is over and they can call home the Russians attack! It’s a great snowy chase scene with helicopters and EXPLOSIONS! Given that this is literally the only scene Michael Bay actually directed, it screams of his style.
After that clearly WTF moment, the crew calls home to tell Washington what just went down. They’re shocked when it’s not the President that answers the phone, but the Speaker of the House. Turns out the President and Vice President are dead. Oh, and so are 80% of the World’s population.
Commander Chandler corners Dr. Scott and demands to know what’s going on. She eventually tells him about the virus and that she’s not really there to study birds. Go figure. Her real reason for being there is to find the primordial strain of the virus. Her theory is, if she can get her hands on the primordial strain, she can possibly develop a vaccine. I guess no one ever thought the virus would spread as fast as it did. Oh, and by the way, all of her colleagues think she’s insane. Insane OR right? I’m sure we’ll find out, but my money is on right.
Without summarizing the rest of the episode, we’re left with several conundrums at the end.
1. Can Dr. Scott develop a vaccine?
2. What are they going to do about fuel and food? How are they going to survive?
3. What’s the deal with Russia?
4. What happened to the dog? Because I didn’t see him on the snowmobile when Russia was attacking. Just sayin’.
All good questions. Number 2 is a question that comes up in all post-apocalyptic shows. It’s a question that can lead to disappointment among viewers. Why? Well, the writers have two options. They either realize they’ve painted themselves into a corner at some point and do a ton of handwaving to get the characters out of the situation or they run with it and use it as a natural point of contention. There are shows that have run with it and done very well. Take The Walking Dead for example…though even then there’s some handwaving going on. There are other shows, such as Stargate Universe, that realize they’ve got the basics of survival as their overriding plot and decide to POOF make everything better.
What happens in the remaining episodes of The Last Ship will determine whether this show deals with the situation head on or if they use Magick Missals and suddenly find unlimited food and fuel. Honestly, I hope they don’t take the easy way out. The hunt for the basic necessities makes for an interesting plot device and creates natural drama.
While the acting was good, the dialogue was a little dry and just kind of meh. The actors did a good job with what they were given, but I’d like to see all little more…I don’t know, something, in future episodes. The character development seemed forced, or rather, haphazardly thrown in there. For example, one of the bridge officers mentions to Commander Chandler that she dreamed the next time she would go to Paris would be with her girlfriend, not to raid a desolate cruise ship for supplies. Touching? Yes. Relevant? No. Not at all. Especially not for a so-far minor character.
We learn a little bit about Commander Chandler. We learn that his wife and children are safe in a mountain cabin somewhere. And we learn that unlike Chandler’s family, Mike Slattery’s didn’t fair so well. His wife and daughters are safe for now, but he lost his son to the virus. As for Dr. Scott? Um…we know she’s a doctor, she’s looking for a cure…oh and her colleagues think she’s crazy. But we’ve covered that already.
Overall, The Last Ship made for an interesting pilot. Am I in love with the show? No…not really. Am I interested in seeing where it goes? Yes!