The Last Ship returns for season 2 this Sunday on TNT so it's a great time to look back at season 1. Instead of just having one opinion on the episodes, I asked Liam to join me because he will be reviewing season 2 for SpoilerTV. We agree on some episodes but there's much we don't agree on as well, which makes things a lot more interesting. Since we want to know your opinion too, I've added a Ranker at the bottom. Simply vote an episode up or down. Don't forget to share your opinions in the comment box below. I'd love to know how you rank the episodes. Also look tomorrow for my preview of the season 2 premiere.
Dahne - No Place Like Home, Welcome to Gitmo, We'll Get There, Trials, Pilot, Two Sailors Walk into a Bar..., SOS, Dead Reckoning, Lockdown, El Toro
Liam - No Place Like Home, SOS, We'll Get There, Lockdown, Pilot, Trials, Two Sailors Walk into a Bar..., Dead Reckoning, Welcome to Gitmo, El Toro
The Last Ship premieres Sunday, June 21 on TNT at 9/8 C.
The Plot - The 217 crew members of the USS Nathan James head out for a 4 month tour in the Arctic on radio silent. Also onboard are Dr. Rachel Scott and her assistant Quincy, who are taking ice core samples. One day Russians attack, trying to kidnap Dr. Scott. The crew then finds that a global virus has decimated most of the world's population and Rachel has really been trying to find a cure. On their way to the CDC, the crew almost gets nuked in Europe and sees the devastation from the virus first hand as they raid a cruise ship for fuel and supplies. One crew member dies there when he comes in contact with a newly dead corpse and takes his own life rather than get sick. Fearing what waits for them in America, Chandler sets course for Guantanamo to pick up supplies so that Rachel can finish her mission.
~Usually a pilot I liked this much would be ranked higher. It's a testament to how much I loved the other episodes that the pilot falls smack in the middle. On third watch, the story is a little slow in getting started and most of the characters are indistinguishable from each other at first, but the whole concept of the world dying while the crew of the Nathan James are blissfully unaware resonates with me. It's a great premise and they executed it well. They do a good job of world building right away. Plus the pilot firmly establishes The Last Ship as a high action show with a quickly moving plot, two things I love.
~Although the premiere doesn’t spend all that much time introducing the show’s ensemble or establishing anything about their personalities, it is still a pretty solid episode. However, if we are to go by action and stunt work alone, this episode is a pulse-pounding thrill ride that entertains from start to finish. This episode truly represents Michael Bay at his best (bet you never thought you’d ever read a sentence like that, did you?).
The Plot - Arriving at Gitmo, three teams are sent out for supplies. One team gets fuel, the other hospital supplies, and another led by Chandler sets out to find food. While there, they encounter the remnants of an Al-Qaeda cell which was once imprisoned there, who try to take out the fueling team. They injure the Chief Engineer but are taken out by the ship's guns. The hospital team's biggest problem is running out of air but they too meet terrorists and kill them with a clever plan by Danny. Still one is hit and Rachel gets permission to leave the ship to save him, earning Danny's respect. The food team meets up with Tex, the only surviving prison guard. He gives them information about the terrorists but then is taken hostage. Chandler says that they do not negotiate with terrorists and in code, signals the Nathan James to create a distraction by firing on the building. It's successful and Chandler offers Tex a spot on the Nathan James. Meanwhile Quincy is secretly in league with the Russians and unsuccessfully tries to disable the Nathan James but he does halt their exit long enough that the Russian ship has time to blockade the harbor.
~While I liked the pilot, this is the episode where I knew I would be hooked. First off it introduced Tex, who I loved from the start. He's sarcastic and adds much needed levity to the show. While everyone else is guided by rules and regulations, Tex is quick with a joke and handy in a fight. Besides adding Tex, this episode was amazingly paced. By having the action divided between 3 teams with Slattery and the Nathan James as backup, there wasn't a dull spot in the episode from the time they set foot on shore. It also did a great job of separating out some of the major crew members from the pack by giving them specific jobs. One of my main criticisms of the pilot was that by the end I only knew who 2-3 characters were while the others were just a hodgepodge mix to me.
~ This episode is rated so low on this list only for the fact that it introduced the world to Tex, who has to be one of the most infuriatingly annoying characters to ever be created. You say comic relief; I say pain in the rear. I’d never wish the horrors of Guantanamo Bay on anyone, but I would certainly make an exception for Tex. The virus can’t claim this straggly haired character soon enough.
The Plot - Ruskov, the commander of the Russian ship and acclaimed military tactician , demands Rachel, her work, and the primordial strand or he will nuke the Nathan James like he did France in the pilot. Chandler requests a meeting to discuss it. As they meet, Ruskov mines the harbor so the Nathan James won't escape. Ruskov basically wants the cure in order to rule the world so the meeting falls apart. The crew finds another passage out but the ship is too big for it due to coral build up. Jumpy that the ship might escape, Quincy tries to kidnap Rachel but ends up revealing that the Russians have his wife and daughter. He threatens to unleash the virus on the ship but Rachel talks him down and he's imprisoned. The plan was for Quincy and Rachel to go by boat to Ruskov's ship so they send Danny and Kara instead. They rig the boat with explosives so when it gets to the ship, the Nathan James crew can bomb the coral away at the same time. It works and the Nathan James pulls away, although it is revealed that Ruskov has a scientist of his own.
~For the main villain of the season, Ruskov falls completely flat. He's way too over the top and watching him shoot his own man just to make a point had me eye rolling instead of shocked. He's a cartoon villain stuck in the 80's, complete with his "gods and masters" monologue. Ugh! Even his own men found him cheesy so it was hard to take seriously his reputation as a naval battle mastermind. I also hated the Danny and Kara drama that would be best found in a teen high school show. Still I loved the crew working together to find another way out and the crucial timing of everything added to the intensity.
~ I wasn’t in love with this episode, due in part to the fact that its primary focus was on dealing with the threat of Admiral Ruskov. Ruskov comes off as a one-note villain of the mustache-twirling variety. Working in this episode’s favor was a daring sequence toward the end of the episode in which the crew of the Nathan James must work strategically to navigate their way through a canal while also remaining invisible to the Russians. This sequence left you on the edge of your seat and really upped the stakes for this tried and true crew.
The Plot - The ship heads to Costa Rica for the monkeys Rachel needs for research but on the way the generators overheat and cause a fire. Down to only one generator, they can only use it 1 hour and then it needs 6 hours to cool. They also cannot run the water filtration system so they will run out of water quickly. On top of that, Rachel needs to keep her samples at a constant temperature or lose the vaccine prototype. In order to solicit Quincy's help on the vaccine, Slattery agrees to allowing him out for sunshine a little each day and finds him a chess partner in Bacon, the cook. Chung figures out a way to keep the samples at the bottom of the ocean to keep them cool, but they cannot get to fresh water in time. They use wind power but the crew is 2 days without water before they spot land. Finally able to slack their thirst, the crew celebrates on the beach while Chandler listens for any news from home.
~When I first heard the synopsis of this episode, I groaned. I didn't think anyone could make water shortage exciting. Then I saw this episode and was amazed. The fact that it cut out much of the daily toil of thirst in favor of vignettes like stockpiling fruit juice and turning beer into water kept the pace going nicely. I also like that they skipped days in the middle to get right to the crisis point. Furthermore, spotlighting Chung was a nice touch. I loved the pep talks Garnett and Chandler give him, inspiring him to think creatively on solutions. Jeter also got a great moment that not only provided Chandler with much needed hope but also gave viewers good back story on Jeter's life. Still my favorite speech was from Slattery. When he started talking about keelhauling I groaned but then he completely surprised me by talking about how he prefers compromise. It was such a neat turn in his character and helped establish his back story too. All in all, I thought that this episode was important to understanding the characters better but it's greatest accomplishment was taking a disaster of the week concept that could have stopped all momentum and turning it into a great, suspenseful episode.
~ Like episode 7, this episode took a make-or-break concept and really found a way to make it work. The idea of watching the crew of the Nathan James suffer from dehydration for an hour sounds rather nauseating, but this cast put forth great performances that really establish the high-stakes nature of this episode. This installment was also particularly enjoyable as viewers were treated to some rarely-seen levity as the crew left the ship at the end of the episode to enjoy some R&R on a beach.
The Plot - Engines fixed, the team heads for Nicaragua to pick up Rachel's monkeys but the monkey preserve is too far inland for the ship to go. Chandler and Slattery head up a small party, but are quickly surrounded by the local warlord's soldiers. Chandler takes an instant disliking to El Toro, the warlord, who has enslaved the local people and is a pedophile. Although allowed to leave with their monkeys, the team comes back to take down El Toro and free the people. Sadly though they can do nothing for the rows of infected people who line the river as they leave.
~In a 10 episode season there should be no time for filler, but that's exactly what this was. First off, it had no bearing on anything else that was happening except for the monkeys. Second, they made El Toro so completely evil that there was zero grey area and everything that happened could be predicted. It's bad enough that he's practically enslaved the people but to make him a pedophile too was ridiculous. They had the opportunity to explore how the virus affected civilization but on this first glimpse of real world life with the virus, they went for the easiest road and ended up with an episode that was disappointing and entirely forgettable.
~ You would think that watching the crew of the Nathan James getting kidnapped by a drug lord while on a jungle mission for Dr. Scott would be a treat for viewers. Unfortunately, the show’s writers dropped the ball with this episode, the concept of which had so much potential. This episode’s plot, which found the captured crew struggling to get free and then take down the drug lord in an effort to free the villagers who are subjected to his rule, felt superfluous to the show’s main plot. This installment neither complemented nor helped carry the show’s viral outbreak plot, but, rather, slowed it down.
The Plot - After the Nicaragua team rejoins the Nathan James, Danny gets sick. The ship goes on lockdown, creating a panic among the crew that the virus has found them. Rumors start spreading, fueled by Quincy through his chess time with Bacon. Rachel and Chandler argue about Danny's sickness and she accidentally lets it slip that the vaccine trials are not going well, which makes the unease on the ship ever greater even after Dr. Rios proclaims that Danny has dengue fever and not the virus. Sixteen members whose enlistment are up ask to leave the ship so Chandler decides to be upfront about everything with the crew, including seeing what Rachel is doing. After an inspiring speech, the 16 re-enlist. Chandler takes away Quincy's chess privileges for trying to incite a mutiny.
~This was the first episode, I believe, that had absolutely no action in it. Instead it was rife with melodrama and way too much emoangsting for me. I understand that they needed an episode focusing on the crew's reaction and the underlying intensity and uncertainty of everything, but this episode is a dead bore in the rewatch. It's all rumor and speculation where Quincy became even more annoying, something I didn't think was possible. Still this episode received a full letter grade boost for the stunning ending. Even in the third watch, the re-enlistment ceremony made a lump form in my throat.
~ This installment struck a great balance between plot and story. You have the high-stakes action in the sequences involving the ill crew members. On the other hand, you have Chandler wrestling with an impossible task: trying to keep his crew’s morale up in this time of great uncertainty. The episode’s last scene is a stand-out, as certain members of the crew agree to stay on the ship after considering the idea of aborting their mission.
The Plot - In flashbacks Ruskov's scientist admits to an older scientist that he altered the virus and injected himself. He is cured but he ends up making the virus even more deadly and infects his wife, who flies all over Europe. Back in the present, the coms team monitor a call from a Jamaican teen named Bertrise who appears to be immune to the virus. Even though it might be a trap, Rachel needs to see Bertrise so they reach out to her although Ruskov overhears their plans too. In the midst of their rescue, the Russians arrive so Chandler and Tex provide a distraction but end up in a sinking boat. Chandler orders the Nathan James to NOT rescue them so they don't betray their location to Ruskov and risk Rachel's cure. Tex is not excited about this plan. Neither is Slattery who disobeys that order. Eventually Chandler and Tex are rescued but by the Russians instead. Rachel, however, has happy news. Bertrise is immune to ALL strands of the virus.
~I liked this episode originally but like with 1.06, it does not repeat well. The Chandler and Tex interactions are funny but for a show noted for its exciting, forward moving plot, this one is very slow. There's too much talk and not enough action. I liked the twist at the end with them being rescued by the Russians and Bertrise ends up being hugely important but for the most part this episode stands still. I found the buildup of Cossetti to be pointless as well. It was like creating an episode for a red shirt, which he was clearly destined to be.
~ This episode is a close second to the finale. This hour of The Last Ship made great use of a potentially boring concept. By isolating Chandler from the crew and plopping him in the middle of the ocean, he received some much welcome character development that revealed how deep his fear of losing his family runs. Kudos to the writers for giving us a clearer picture of what makes this man tick.
The Plot - Chandler and Tex are taken to see Ruskov where they find out Quincy's family is still alive. Chandler offers no information about the location of the Nathan James but Ruskov sends out a call that Slattery answers, stalling so they can track his ship instead. Rachel volunteers to go to Ruskov's ship after she produces a working vaccine and shows Rios how to mass produce it. Burk gives Rachel a gun hidden in her supplies and when she gets there she kisses Chandler to pass him a scalpel blade and note detailing the rescue mission. While Chandler and Tex escape their cell, Rachel meets Sorenson, Ruskov's scientist, and is disgusted that he hid what he did from the scientific community. Sorenson insists he will cure the planet but Rachel proves that she already did without him via the vaccine. He throws a fit. Rachel kills the guard as the crew from the Nathan James infiltrate the ship and place explosives all over. She wants to kill Sorenson but Chandler stops her after saving Quincy's family. The rescue is a success, the team disembarks, and Ruskov's ship is blown up but not before Sorenson escapes and Cossetti is fatally shot.
~Ruskov's back and that's a bad start, especially since he keeps chewing the scenery. He comes off just as cartoonish here as he did in the third episode. His pet scientist, Sorenson, is equally bad so I had a hard time not laughing at both whenever they were on screen. However, this had a lot of action and it gave Rachel a critical role outside the lab. It might be farfetched that the crew had so little problem boarding the boat and taking out half the crew before that "mastermind" Ruskov knew anything, but there were plenty of gunfights and explosions to keep me entertained. Plus Chandler and Tex riffing on escape movies made me laugh.
~ This episode was a bit of a downer after the great mix of character development and action featured in episode 7. As the crew once again contends with the Russians, we are left wondering why they are having so much trouble against these poorly written and lackluster foes. This episode’s redeeming qualities lie in the fact that Cossetti’s death scene is performed hauntingly well by actor Tommy Savas.
The Plot - Now that a vaccine is made, Rachel needs 6 volunteers to proceed with human trials but way too many crew members volunteer so it's weeded down to Tex, Garnett, Kara, Jeter, Miller, and Maya. They are taken to quarantine, given the vaccine, and then the virus. Things do not go well as they all take a turn for the worse. Maya dies and the rest begin hallucinating. Quincy suggests using Bertrise's plasma and Rachel objects but Bertrise overrules her. It doesn't help but they find out Kara is pregnant. Danny comes to visit her and soon each of the remaining 5 get visitors in preparation for their deaths. Rachel and Chandler both start to break down but Quincy and Slattery pep talk them in turn. Rachel figures out why the science isn't working cures them all. All crew members get vaccinated, but it might be too late for Chandler's family. Back at home, Chandler's family is hiding at his dad's cabin. His wife goes out for supplies to fix the radio but gets infecte. Over the radio, his father hears of a place called Olympia where there is hope.
~Normally this would not be my type of episode. It focused a lot more on emotions than action, plus it was instantly clear who the red shirt was the second the 6 were picked. What placed it higher than the pilot for me was all the back story on characters that hadn't been fleshed out much before. It allowed characters that were important but overshadowed to become better rounded. It was also genuinely touching in many places. I loved how the crew came to encourage the remaining 5 to hold on and the courage of so many people volunteering warmed my heart. It also had more pep talks than a cheerleader camp. Even Quincy got in on the action, giving Rachel the strength to keep going until she figured out the solution. I wasn't a huge fan of the Kara pregnancy twist but I cheered when Rachel realized she had a cure, not just a vaccine. For an episode with zero action, it sure had a lot of intensity and heart.
~ The action featured in this episode was great, but was somewhat unmemorable due in part to the fact that much of the hour felt like a rehash of Episode 6. Once again, we are fed a plot concerning the crew dealing with the threat of illness. This installment probably would be ranked much higher if it didn’t feel like something that has been packaged for reuse.
Chandler's family races to Olympia while the Nathan James heads to Baltimore with a cure. They receive a warm welcome when they get there by Alicia's mom who is basically running everything, including Olympia. An opposing militia leader is actively opposed to Granderson and tries unsuccessfully to assassinate her when she joins the welcome party. Granderson introduces Rachel to their lab staff and Rachel tells them that she has the cure. Chandler hears his dad on the radio and tries to rendezvous with them but they are already at Olympia. Both Rachel and Chandler figure out that Granderson is killing the infected at Olympia and Chandler races to cure his family only to find out his wife is dead. As he leaves with his dad and kids, he realizes the dead bodies are fueling the city. Everyone tries to converge on the Nathan James but Granderson already has her police force take control of it, holding everyone aboard at gunpoint.
Wow! What a finale! Beyond all the twists, there is a complete reset for season 2. Gone is the disappointing Ruskov and in his stead is a powerful, ruthless woman who is already a better villain than him in one episode. I particularly like how she is a crew member's mom because that amps up the intensity and emotional component on several levels. I'm also intrigued about how Chandler's family will fit in next season. Will they join him on the Nathan James once Chandler inevitably gets his ship back? The finale offers up plenty of material to work with in the second season but it is also satisfying in its own right. The plot races breathlessly from one scene to another and watching the characters realize that the home they fought for is now corrupted was powerful. Kudos to everyone involved on a job well done.
Liam - #1
~ Enough cannot be said about this truly stellar episode. This installment not only provides payoff for stories set up at the beginning of the season (i.e. Chandler being reunited with his family), but also effectively establishes new plotlines that will be sure to give Season 2 a real kick (i.e. the introduction of Alfre Woodard as AVOCET head Amy Granderson). And don’t even get me started on the episode’s big twist involving AVOCET and their plans for the people of Baltimore. Some viewers may have seen it coming from a mile away. Regardless, you can’t deny that this show’s writers know how to pull off a good bait-and-switch. Going into Season 2, let’s hope the show can sustain the momentum of this memorable episode.
Ranker - Lists About Everything
Screencaps by TNT, Aveleyman, Katesque, Release the Clackum, Space, Gotta Watch It, Last Ship Wikia, Buddy TV, IGN, and Time Warriors.