The Last Ship: Friendly Fire (recap and review)

Dr. Scott after injection on The Last Ship
Just when it seems that The Last Ship has lost its bearings, Friendly Fire turns to a little hardcore Naval action. Last week saw the Immunes using a bounty system to get the crew of the Nathan James captured or killed. It also featured the brutal, yet satisfying, death of the most despicable man in the show, Niels.

If no other lesson can be learned from watching this post-apocalyptic series, one thing has been made abundantly clear, scientists are some cold blooded people. Firstly, Niels not only infected and killed everyone he came in contact with, except for the immunes, he then set about turning teddy bears into viral dispensers. Now we have Dr. Scott who, to be fair only did what most people wanted to do, cold bloodily kill Patient Zero in last week’s episode. She then turned around and gave herself the untested vaccine knowing full well that if she got it wrong, she would die.

As the mayor says in Slither, “B*tch is hardcore.”

Although this would be unfair. Part of what makes The Last Ship work so well is its attention to detail and a timely introduction of backstory. Last week we learned that Niels, for all his “Typhoid Mary” traits, was desperately lonely. It was this, combined with his “crush” on Scott, that doomed the walking contagion to die so horrifically.

Rachel Scott watched her mother die from Malaria because her father refuses to allow the woman to be vaccinated. An event that so traumatized the young Rachel that it obviously set her on the path to scientist. It was this information, so perfectly timed in terms of delivery, that makes her action of allowing Niels to die from his own disease ridden body almost a serendipitous event or at the very least poetic justice.

*Sidenote* Not to be too picky…But Malaria? Scott is not that old and surely, missionaries, which her father obviously was, must be required to have the entire family inoculated before “spreading the word.” While there are two churches who do not believe in using doctors missionaries must still, presumably, follow vaccination laws before visiting third world countries where Scott’s mother would have encountered the malaria. Final complaint; using such an stereotypical, almost cliche, backstory for Rachel was a bit of a let down. Just saying.

The storyline this week is split into two distinct threads with a common theme. Rules, aka codes, must be followed. The Nathan James is close to “the Big Easy” and Slattery and his team are working hard to “turn” any of the just captured Immunes. One, Flea, proves to be the weak link and he finally helps decipher the cell phones’ code so Chandler’s crew can intercept Ramsey’s messages.

Running concurrently to the main storyline is the focus on Niels’ death. As Scott has flashbacks to childhood while she dissects and “cannibalizes” the body to aid her development of a vaccine delivery system, she is under investigation for Niels’ murder. The crew are divided in their support of the scientist and Chandler is keeping away from Rachel while the investigation is going on.

*Sidenote* It should be pointed out that Rachel is plagued by her act. Apart from her two childhood flashback sequences, she keeps seeing “flashes” of Niels and his death. While she is not “suffering” per se, she is feeling the guilt of her action and one gets the impression that she will never forget this deadly act of retribution.

Lt. Granderson and her team work out that the cell phones use bluetooth technology to bypass the useless cell towers. Ramsey’s Immunes are using a bluetooth game to communicate, and spread damaging propaganda, but using the phones is somewhat problematic as they must be within a 90 yard radius to operate. Later, on the Nathan James, all the crew’s cell phones are paired long distance so a damaging video can be streamed on their phones. Someone on Ramsey’s team has boosted the signal somehow.

The Ramsey’s, who have been hiding like an unwound Jack-in-the-box, suddenly make themselves known and destroy the small flotilla of survivor vessels outside New Orleans. The Achilles then fires multiple torpedoes at the Nathan James and the destroyer has to deploy rounds and chaff to deflect the guided missiles. All but one are detonated and the one straggler explodes causing damage but not to the hull which is reported to be intact.

This must class as one of the more irritating episodes of The Last Ship. While this segment could be seen as necessary, to show that the crew must follow regulations and codes, it is frustrating. The amount of time that the crew had to spend investigating the death of the vile and despicable Niels kept them from making the more important discoveries necessary to crack the cell phone problem.

Could they have prevented the deaths of so many civilians at New Orleans? Possibly, but in all likelihood it would have made no difference. As a plot point, not to mention that the mercenary’s had to act against the ship, something bad had to happen, because despite the Ramsey’s being barking mad, they still have a plan. Taking over America and destroying Chandler and the Nathan James. Had the small flotilla not been blown up, the Achilles would have still attacked, using the ships above it as both hiding place and shield.

This week also saw the new president hitting his stride in becoming the guy in charge of the country. He even passes on some wisdom to Chandler about making unpopular decisions. Eric Dane, once again, stepped up to the mark and did some brilliant acting. His final scene with Rhona Mitra, as Rachel Scott, was spot on. He manages to convey with just his facial expressions the frustration, anger, regret and disappointment he feels about Scott’s murder of Niels.

The fact that the commander of the Nathan James grew attached to and respected Scott for her determination in finding a cure for the pandemic made his decree of what amounts to quarters arrest a hard one. Although he is angry enough that she killed the one man who could have been used to effectively fight the propaganda campaign against the destroyer that he tells her, “on land” he will turn her over to the authorities to be tried properly for murder.

For the time being, the Nathan James have been boldly portrayed as the bad guys in the Ramsey’s little “winning hearts and minds” scenario allowing them, as Immunes, to be the country’s saviors and the question of Chandler and Scott in term of “will they, won’t they” has been laid to rest. At least for the foreseeable future. One gets the feeling that even once passions have cooled over the issue of Niels’ murder, the commander will never forgive Rachel for scuppering their one chance to easily fight the Ramsey’s lies.

The Last Ship airs Sundays on TNT and continues to provide excellent post apocalyptic television.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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