The Last Ship: Season Finale (Review)

The crew of the Nathan James setting out to cure The season finale of The Last Ship felt a bit flat after all the previous action from the week before. With no prolonged shoot-em-ups, or cat and mouse or chessboard moves between ship and sub, the episode had to focus on spreading the cure. There was still one Immune team left locally from Sean Ramsey’s group and they managed to create havoc until the leader was captured at Memphis.

There was still some pretty touching moments. Tex finds his daughter and at the end the crew hold a long toast to fallen comrades. Lt. Green finally proposes and Kevin McDowell, played by Patrick Brennan manages to pull one last dirty trick, or two, before being brought down in Tennessee.

Master Chief Jeter makes a mistake by telling his in-laws that they should avoid Vicksburg on an open line. When the Nathan James shows up at the city, under 200 people show up for the cure. Jeter confesses that he may have been somewhat responsible and the president is not too happy with the man.

This is one part of the show that felt manufactured. Jeter, as the senior enlisted man on ship, has been on-point throughout. This “lapse” may have provided a vital plot point, but overall, it did not feel characteristic of the master chief. Even worse, the decision to have the new president react so badly to Jeter’s confession, also felt false. Michener has been stepping up since Chandler, Slattery and Jeter all worked hard to get the new leader out of his deep depression.

Certainly it is to be expected that the man’s journey would not be totally smooth, but his reaction to the master chief’s admission just felt wrong. Especially after Jeter also relays his attempt to set things right. The one thing that did work out of the entire scenario was Commander Chandler’s reaction to the president’s ire. He, like the audience, conveys his disappointment at the way Michener reacts.

There are a number of other things that took away from the victory over the mercenaries being headed up by Sean and his brother Ned. The contagious cure, which the crew can now spread after getting their booster, will only work for a short time period; 8 to 10 days, after which they will no long be contagious.  The aerosol cure will only treat so many and it will use up all their stockpile.

It is interesting to see that the Immunes try to scupper the Memphis cure by dressing up as Nathan James crew members to spread the virus, once again trying to vilify the crew of the destroyer. Obviously McDowell is no Sean Ramsey and they provide no real challenge for the real crew. After Tex is reunited with his daughter Kathleen, he spies the leader of the Immunes. The away team find  even more dressed in Navy uniforms and they take action.

There is a small riot of sorts when the people amassed at Memphis try to leave but the sailors save the day by controlling the crowd, with a little help from Tex’s daughter. At the same time, McDowell and his most of his little crew are taken in or shot. Wolf Man grabs the leader and Miller gets to clothesline one of the Immunes who is trying to escape.

After their success at Memphis the crew and the ship head to St. Louis. Here the president is finally sworn in, Chandler is promoted and Scott is forgiven (pardoned) for murdering Niels. Rachel goes to see Tom and after a short chemistry laden exchange, she leaves.

A man approaches her asking about the contagious cure. He wants to know how close you have to be. As Scott tells him he is close enough, the man pulls a gun and shouting the John Wilkes Booth quote (Sic Semper Tyrannis – Death to Tyrants) he shoots Rachel and runs on.

This last act, where the crew celebrate, propose, and start to answer that age old question of “will they, won’t they”  ends on a pretty heavy duty  and last minute cliff hanger that feels almost thrown away. The series has been approved for a third season. Rather interesting when one thinks of where things finished in season two.

As the end credits roll, Rachel Scott is possibly dead, Tom Chandler has been made the head of Naval Operations, and the president reveals that things are bad across the US, South America and Europe. The Last Ship has been an interesting ride, or cruise, for two whole seasons.  It does, however,  seem hard to picture the show going on for another season in what sounds like a land-locked scenario.

Scott was heading out to Nebraska, Ohio and points west before being shot down. All that remains now is  to see if Rachel survives being shot point blank in the chest. If not, Dane will have to have another love interest introduced.  Smart money should be on Mitra’s character surviving. Rhona plays pretty tough characters some of that may have rubbed off on Scott.

*Sidenote* It would be interesting to see if Naval recruiting numbers have increased since this show has been on air. This show is nothing if not a walking talking recruiting exercise for all things Navy.  Hell, if I wasn’t so old, I’d think of enlisting.

In terms of performances? Eric Dane rocked as the commander, Adam Baldwin was grimly patriotic as the second in command and Rhona Mitra was excellent despite not being able to really fight anyone. All in all, the actors in this show rocked it. Bren Foster as Wolf Man aka SCPO Wolf Taylor and John Pyper-Ferguson as Tex, brought a lot to the table as did the rest of the cast. 

The Last Ship has finished on a very anti-climatic downer. President Michener has turned out to be a bit anal and Scott may be dead. Sure Danny and Foster are now official but overall the season finale felt a little lost. Seemingly once the Ramsey’s wound up on the sea bed a lot of the excitement wound up down there with them. Shooting Rachel seems like a device thrown in to make sure viewers come back. Not to worry TNT, the viewers should tune in if for no other reason than to see that great cast act their little cotton socks off.

Infini (2015): The Thing Meets the Data Stream

Whit Carmichael aka Daniel MacPherson
Directed and co-written by Shane Abbess (written with Brian Cachia) and starring Daniel MacPhersonLuke HemsworthLuke Ford and Bren Foster (who has been garnering a lot of attention as SCPO Wolf Taylor on the US TNT drama The Last Ship) Infini is an Australian treat posing as an odd sort of horror/science fiction/thriller. Set in a future where the vast majority of the world is poor and forced to take dangerous high paying jobs to survive, the film follows an elite search and rescue team on a special mission.

The film opens by informing the audience that methods of space travel have advanced to such a degree that people travel as “data” via the Slipstream. Volunteers, aka poor people in those dangerous jobs, have devices (an APEX) attached to their central nervous system that allows them to use this mode of travel. We are also told that corruption of data is commonplace, as are deaths caused by this controversial method of space travel.

Infini starts with a group of people being questioned under bright lights and behind glass walls. The tone is frantic, loud, aggressive and panicky, the importance of this opening sequence will become relevant, and clearer, at the end of the film. The next thing on screen is Whit Carmichael and his pregnant wife. This is Carmichael’s first day in his new job. His wife is concerned and worried about this new high paying but dangerous position.

Before his first mission, things go catastrophically wrong. A group of soldiers go on a mission and return, their numbers are decimated and the survivor’s are bloody, in shock, and very volatile. The station is put on lockdown and put under lethal quarantine. Whit is slipstreamed to the place the soldiers came from and a new team are sent to retrieve him.

There are a lot of things going on here. Time is very relevant. The rules of the film are that the person using the data travel system is gone for seconds on the station, while on the actual mission their time at the destination equals hours. This factor becomes important as the film progresses.

Infini seems to combine John Carpenter’s The Thing (or Howard Hawk’s version The Thing from Another World, sans James Arness dressed as a giant carrot.) although Carpenter’s setting; the frozen arctic, does seem to be mimicked here. The planet the “perfect” organism calls home is a deep freeze where the natural habitat is icy and uninhabitable.

Abbess and Cachia have come up with a scenario that delivers some pretty decent horror and science fiction thrills that also requires the viewer to think. By the end of the film one does not know if the whole thing was a result of corrupted data, a perfect parasitic organism, space madness or something else entirely.

Performances by all the actors were spot on. Rather interestingly, most of the cast appear to be refugees from the Aussie soap <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094481/?ref_=nv_sr_1&quot; target="_blank"Home and Away. The film clips along at a good pace and while there are moments that jar, mainly because of the plot and the storyline rather than bad editing or holes, these incidents help to keep the unease and uncertainty on line.

If there is any complaint at all about the film it would be the rather wordy and philosophic speech given by the main protagonist toward the very end of the film. It does not really fit the scenario, although, that could be matter of misinterpretation, if one considers the data corruption plot thread.

When the film ends, the viewer will be uncertain as to just what happened to the crew who went to rescue Carmichael and Whit himself. This ambiguous end is the frosting on this outer and inner space trippy vision and makes the film work on many different levels. It is precisely the reason that I adore Australian cinema, as the filmmakers down under specialize in thinking so far outside the box that it may as well not exist.

Infini will not be to everyone’s taste. For those who like a film that makes them think and ponder about what they’ve just seen, this is a 4 out of 5 star bit of brilliance. Streaming on US Netflix right now horror and science fiction fans should pop some corn and prepare to be entertained and perhaps just a bit confused.

The Last Ship: Solace (recap and review)

Tex and Ravit
Last week’s episode of The Last Ship; It’s Not a Rumor had Alisha Granderson being promoted, with Commander Chandler’s old Lt. bars and Niels had managed to kill quite a number of innocents as well as winding up in a religious zealots camp. The Nathan James headed off from Norfolk to start supplying other bases with the cure and Dr. Scott is looking forward to seeing her old mentor Dr. Hunter. The Last Ship: Solace takes place immediately after and the episode begins with a number of dead people in what looks to be a submarine and two men discussing their chances. The crew members are British and considering the slang use of one of them, of a lower class background, “Cause I know bruv,” he says before the opening teaser finishes.

The Nathan James learns that the missing lab from Norfolk is on the USSN Solace with a skeleton crew of doctors and sailors. The James attempts to contact the Solace and gets no response. Chandler says they went out to wait for their cure and “We were late.” The Commander feels that what ever has happened to the crew is his fault.

The ship finds the Solace and their hails go unanswered. Chandler takes a small team to board the ship/lab to find out what is going on. Part of the search team includes two new members who were picked up back at Norfolk. An Australian special forces soldier named Wolf and his equivalent number, an Israeli named Ravit.

Wolf proves to be a valuable asses to the team when he almost singlehandedly takes out a squad of mercenaries on board the Solace, Lt. Miller nicknames the Aussie attacker “Wolf-man” and SCPO Taylor responds that he likes it. Ravit also proves her worth when dealing with two bombs left by the mercenaries.

Chandler and his troops find a lot of bodies on board, recently shot by what appears to be an international group of soldiers of fortune who are obviously trying to steal the cure and then sell it to the highest bidder. The men are cold blooded and ready to kill all who get in their way. After the boarding team find survivors on the Solace, they go to clear out the mercenaries.

What follows are some very satisfactory fire-fights between the crew of the James and the bad guys. Slattery gets a two body count via a big gun and a sniper. The “leader” of the villains on the Solace manages to escape, along with a few of his team, but one man, who may be Spanish, has been captured.

Niels pops up at the end of the show and it seems he is/was helping the mercenaries. However, due to the crew of the Nathan James showing up and spoiling their game, he looks to be in a little trouble with the big boss of the outfit. Patient Zero appears to be very nervous just before the end credits roll.

The Last Ship has opted to keep the challenges coming in its second season. From threats “within;” Baltimore, to threats “Without;” international mercenaries, the show is proving to be well worth the hour it takes to watch it. Without continued conflict the series would have fallen into a drop off the cure and defeat the local resistance formula that would pall rather quickly.

Introducing a “big bad” in what seems to be a cloaked submarine manned by some deadly, and slightly crazed, soldier’s of fortune from all over the world, the show has added a wild card that can be used to prop up the action when needed.

It is odd to see Rhona Mitra as a “non-action” character, after her other roles, Doomsday and Underworld: Rise of the Lycans to name but a couple, where she proved that she could kick butt and take names easily, but the woman can act, and her English presence is a welcome one on the “American heavy” show.

John Pyper-Ferguson as Tex just keeps getting better and better and his interest in Mitra’s Scott is still amusing and, in Solace, a little more hopeful than before.

Kudos to Bren Foster as “Wolf-man” who managed to look impressively deadly in his stand-out attack on the bad guys. Not only does the Aussie actor attack convincingly but he also kept his character likable in the process. The same can be said of his Israeli counterpart Ravit, played by Inbar Lavi. Hopefully we will be seeing more of the international crew members of the Nathan James.

The Last Ship airs Sundays on TNT and it is managing to keep the entertainment value levels high. Perhaps the only bone of contention is the continued mis-pronunciation of Norfolk. Granted, they are speaking of the American Naval Base, but it is jarring to hear Nor-folk instead of Nor-fok, which is the English pronunciation. Perhaps with the arrival of some British players in the show, that may change.