The Last Ship: Valkyrie (Review)

Sean Ramsey Brian F. O'Byrne
In this week’s episode of The Last Ship, Valkyrie, the Nathan James loses four crew members, more about that later, but they do manage to finally get one over on the mercenary crew of the Achilles. Last week saw Chandler’s crew painted as the bad guys and blamed for blowing up the flotilla. Ramsey and his communication system was used to put the destroyer and her crew in danger from the general public.

*Sidenote* Speaking of the mercenaries, this week’s installment may not have featured the leader of the Immunes for more than a minute, maybe two, but that was long enough for Irish actor Brian F. O’Byrne to prove that his Sean Ramsey is not only mad as a march hare, but he is delusional as well. Telling his brother Ned about his “manifesto” while mentioning, “You’re in there as well bruv,” Sean believes in his own prophecy wholeheartedly. Meanwhile his brother may be going along for the ride, but he is not a believer. Familiarity breeds contempt and since the “new world order” leader is his brother, Ned follows, but not willingly and without the zeal of the convert. He knows Sean all too well.

At the start of the episode, Lt. Green and his team are attempting to help survivors of the Ramsey brothers’ attack on the civilian flotilla. It is revealed that these people were not Immunes but normal survivors. The Immune they captured last week is on shore with them. The man continues to eye Tex’s gun and at the earliest opportunity he escapes. Unfortunately this is when the edited video transmits over the cell phones of the survivors.

The man pumps up the other response team who arrived to help the injured and they begin to fire at Green and his men. The team from the Nathan James do, however, pinpoint where the signal is coming from that allowed Ramsey to broadcast his damning video about Navy destroyer before they have to fight their way off the beach.

The president (Mark Moses) gives a stirring speech, exonerating the James and her crew. XO Slattery tapes the presidential message and Commander Chandler comes in as he finishes. President Michener tells Chandler, “I hope this gets where it needs to go.” The commander replies, “I’ll get it there or die trying.” As things turn out, he almost does.

Chandler takes Wolf-Man, Ravit, Burk, Granderson and a few others to the source of the signal, which is on an offshore oil rig. The team arrive and begin the sweep for the transmitter as well as shutting the rig’s lines down. Granderson looks but they cannot find the source or equipment which allows the antenna to transmit.

The Commander orders the everything destroyed. Once he announces this a woman comes clambering out from a vent and tries to escape. She is Valerie, aka Valkyrie (Tania Raymonde) and she is not an immune. During Sean Ramsey’s message earlier, the crew notice the logo Valkyrie and this is who it referred to. Valerie opted to help the Ramsey’s because she believed the conspiracy theories.

As she and Chandler discuss her beliefs, a civilian ship turns up and a man shoots RPG rounds at the rig. He causes severe damage, the rig begins exploding and the crew rush to turn off leaking valves. Just as the circling vessel moves in for another shot, the helicopter from the Nathan James shoots the boat and kills the threat. (Later Slattery is furious when he learns that Sean Ramsey forced them to kill innocents, in other words non-immune survivors.)

By the time the end credits roll, Chandler has been wounded (He has shrapnel behind his liver that he refuses to remove until after the Ramsey’s have been defeated.) and he has lost four of his crew. Rachel Scott saves Chandler’s life and it seems his animosity towards her from last week has dissipated somewhat.

The biggest moment of heartbreak comes with the death of super sexy and deadly Ravit Bivas; the Israeli special forces soldier that Burk was very interested in and vice versa. The only other death that came close to the emotional trauma of Ravit dying was the death of Chung, who dies after saving Lt. Granderson’s life.

While this episode had a good mix of action and just enough presence of the Ramsey brothers with their collective madness, it felt a little manufactured, or perhaps clichéd fits that little bit better. At the very least a few tropes were trotted out here for the viewer.

*Sidenote* It bears pointing out that the Ramsey brothers are essentially evil versions of Peachy and Danny from The Man Who Would Be King with Sean Ramsey as Danny. While O’Byrne is no Sean Connery (he’s the wrong nationality for a start) he does an impressive job as the man who plans to be the benevolent despot of the New World Order. Of course the two soldiers in the 1975 Huston classic were not brothers, but the resemblance is there for all to see.

It is hard not to roll one’s eyes when Valkyrie turns out to be a beautiful female genius. Sorry but the part of super smart beauty has already been filled by Rhona Mitra as Rachel Scott. It would have been preferred casting to have a normal looking guy or gal, rather than the gorgeous Raymonde as Valkyrie. Just as hackneyed is her instantaneous decision to back the “good guys.” Even though they saved her life, as Chandler admits, this was not altogether out of the goodness of his own heart.

The same can be said for the Immune captor jumping at the chance to drop the crew in the sh*t while helping the flotilla survivors and Chandler’s heartfelt “thank you” to Scott. Last week he was ready to line the good doctor up against the wall and shoot her.

Still, The Last Ship does entertain and the performances more than make up for the annoying storyline this week. Adam Baldwin did look like he was close to patriotic tears while listening to the president’s speech and it would be a cold hearted individual who did not tear up during Lt. Ravit Bivas’ death scene.

Not to be picky but the series needs more of the Ramsey’s and their mercenary crew. There may have been good bit of action in this episode but it lacked color and the Achilles with her bickering slang talking crew provide that in full.

The Last Ship airs Sundays on TNT, there are two episodes left in this season with no word of a third being approved. Hopefully the Nathan James will defeat the evil Ramsey’s before the season finale.

The Last Ship: Alone and Unafraid (recap and review)

The Last Ship still photo
In the previous episode of The Last Ship two of the three teams had infiltrated the “Chosen” camp and met the “new” president and XO Slattery ordered the comms buoy blown up, in Alone and Unafraid Chandler has gotten himself close to the president. Green and Tex are on a convoy with Niels who is up to something and Wolf-Man is trying to keep track of it all for Slattery.

Like other excursions in this season, the action in Alone and Unafraid is pretty impressive. While it took at least one other episode to build up to this segment’s “big fight” (and at least half of this episode) the payoff was some excellent edge of the seat viewing. After Chandler, who orchestrated the whole thing with Burk and Ravit’s help, gets to guard the new president, they then set up a rescue for the country’s new commander-in-chief.

After setting up a possible threat, Ramsey’s team, and Chandler (who tells the mercenary that his name is Tommy) take the former Secretary Michener through the convention hall kitchens. As they enter Burk and Ravit strike and together with Chandler they fight a pretty spirited battle with the mercenaries. The conflict is savage and drawn out. Burk takes out one baddie with a broken mop handle through the chest and Ravit takes out another one with a couple of forks.

Chandler takes out his group with armed flair and then goes head to head with the last one standing. After winning, he then delivers the coup de grace to the wounded mercenaries who reach for their weapons. The “president” reluctantly allows himself to be escorted from the building. Outside the convention center, Wolf-Man snipes guards who get in the way and clears a path for Chandler, Burk, Ravit and Michener.

Tex, who Niels sort of recognizes (as Patient Zero queries Tex about where he may have met him, the man tells Niels to leave him alone as, “You’re kind of creeping me out, man.” In that instant, Tex and Ned are ethereal twins who share their discomfort at being around Niels.

Both men are right to be disturbed about Niels. The thing that Danny saw the man working on was a virus delivery system to be put in children’s cuddly toys. After the two men grab Niels and his deadly teddy bears and rejoin Chandler’s team and Wolf-Man, Green destroys the viral toys with fire.

Niels has been shot, during the fracas against the work detail meant to deliver the viral payload, Ned was shot in the face as well. Later, the bloodied brother of Sean will demand that his “bruv” take care of that ship.

Back on the Nathan James, XO Slattery and the crew are playing a tense game of cat and mouse where the destroyer has to find a quiet spot to release the “helo” aka, helicopter. It will need to collect Chandler and his team along with the president. The sub’s crew, between bickering and stopping just shy of fisticuffs, are trying to track the Nathan James to blow her out of the water.

Once the three teams regroup at the pick up point, a truckload of mercenaries arrives and they have to fight their way to the chopper. The Navy cuts the soldier’s for hire down pretty easily and once they board, Tex asks who the passenger is. Chandler says that Michener is the Commander and Chief and Tex’s look of disbelief says it all.

Back on the Nathan James, it is apparent that Michener is more of a “believer” (part of Ramsey’s “Chosen” schtick) and less of a presidential reality. He is escorted very much against his will deeper into the ship and Slattery also questions the man’s motives.

Back at the convention center, Ned heckles Sean and once again demands that he do something about the ship. He also makes it clear that they should just “nuke” the US, a country full of “ungrateful buggers.” *The writers are still having a hey day getting all that Brit dialogue spot on.*

Sean looks pretty irate which is not surprising since his “ace in the hole” has been snatched out right out from under this proverbial nose. Ned has always been for blowing up the Nathan James, killing the crew and turning America into a nuclear wasteland. It remains to be seen just how much Sean will take on from baby brother Ned’s suggestions.

Once again, The Last Ship gave viewers a great action filled (continuing) storyline. Producer, and star, Eric Dane keeps giving the same sturdy performance and it is plain that he was born to play this type of role. Adam Baldwin shows that he can still pack a punch into whatever performance he gives no matter how small the screen time and Ebon Moss-Bachrach should get some sort of gong, an Emmy or something, for his portrayal of Niels.

Kudos again for the writers of the show and for the two actors playing those bickering Brit’s the Ramsey brothers; Brían F. O’Byrne (Sean) and Nick Court (Ned) these two chaps are value for money and without their spot on portrayal, the mercenaries would take on a comic book air of villainy versus the real deal the actor’s help bring.

Now that Michener is on board the Nathan James and Niels has been caught (and his disgusting toys destroyed) perhaps the destroyer can sink that sub, although not too soon, yeah? Those Ramsey’s and their crew make a pretty good group of villains, bruv. The Last Ship airs Sundays on TNT don’t miss it or you’ll be a muppet…Yeah?

The Last Ship: Achilles (recap and review)

Niels being greeted on the Achilles
Last week on Solace the Nathan James rescued the hospital ship, shot up quite a few mercenaries and captured one Spanish sailor from the organization. This week in Achilles on The Last Ship Slattery begins questioning the Special Ops Spaniard who appears to be over emphasizing his injuries. The Nathan James begins a dangerous game of hide and seek hoping to gain the advantage over the Ajax class British submarine, the HMS Achilles. It is revealed that the man who commands the sub is another zealot, like the preacher in the park, “a believer,” as he puts it and despite Niels initially being in over his head he manages to plumb new depths as the villain we love to despise.

Within moments of being on board the submarine and meeting the commander, Niels causes dissent between the brothers running the show and his reveal that Chandler defeated the legendary Russian Admiral Ruskov is met with a combination of disbelief and cheers. Slattery learns a bit more about the mercenary crew and their commander from the captured member of their crew. The XO accuses the captive of lying about the extent of his injuries.

The crew of the Nathan James learns that the submarine is the Achilles; a nuclear vessel that is being helmed by a madman, according to the Spaniard, and Chandler begins a protracted battle of wits against the sub’s commander. Both go silent while trying to pinpoint their opposition’s location. The mercenary prisoner, Juan Carlos, begs to be brought topside as he does not want to die below decks, chained to a bunk. Slattery takes him up and continues to question him.

Mason proves that he is pretty good on sonar as he finds the Achilles. Sean Ramsey and his brother Ned continue to argue and disagree at every turn and the crew on the sub veer between enthusiastic certainty and bickering. After the two vessels go silent Slattery, who is topside with Juan Carlos, decides that the captive has a beacon inside him. The Spaniard, who starts coughing up lots of blood, tells the XO that everyone on board the Achilles is like him.

Slattery then orders that the beacon be removed from their prisoner. Dr. Scott reluctantly agrees to the surgery and the British sub uncloaks and fires a salvo of torpedoes at the Nathan James. The ship returns fire and takes evasive action. Despite several “fish” being deployed both the Achilles and the Nathan James miss and no damage is taken by either vessel.

The “beacon” turns out to be a USB flash drive with all the locations of the labs on it. This was what Sean was going back for not just fellow believer and member of “The Selected” Juan Carlos. Just as Lt. Granderson deciphers the drive, the British nuclear sub deploys 26 ballistic missiles, all aimed at the lab locations. Chandler orders intercept missiles fired from the the Nathan James and only two of the Achilles rockets are taken down.

Niels discovered the lab locations via a communication from Dr. Hunter that was retrieved from the Solace. After the missiles are launched from the sub, Patient Zero gloatingly inflates his importance to the British led group of mercenaries and Ned wants to sink the Nathan James. Sean informs the crew and his brother that they will take over the US instead.

This week’s episode had something for everyone. A standoff, chess-like maneuvers on the open seas and a brief, white knuckle, battle between the nuclear sub (“That never runs out of fuel,” says Chandler.) and the Nathan James, a suspenseful medical surgery, Niels being even more despicable, and further insight into the more than slightly mad mercenaries on the Achilles.

The writing this week was exceptional, as were the performances from the two actors portraying the Ramsey brothers; Nick Court as Ned and Irish actor Brían F. O’Byrne as Sean do a brilliant job as the two British troops who took over the nuclear sub and run the group of “selected” mercenaries. The dialogue from the Brit members of the crew was spot on and include many military, and prison officer, slang terms. Real kudos to the writers of this episode for getting it right.

The cast continue to crack on with some brilliant performances but this show belonged to O’Byrne, Eric Dane and Adam Baldwin. Dane has the knack of conveying great authority with an eye crinkle and O’Byrne manages to exude mad confidence in his characterization of the mercenary leader. Special kudos to Adam Baldwin who projected his thought process with little more than a minimal facial tic or glare. Masterful and pure Baldwin. Sadly, there was not much for Rhona Mitra to do in this episode but she did manage to handle that surgical microscope with authority as well as showing Dr. Scott’s dismay at having to perform the procedure.

In the show, things have been cranked right up in terms of suspense and Juan Carlos was correct in his summation of leader Sean, he is mad as a hatter. This idiot savant running the sub has already taken over Europe and now has his sights set on the USA and presumably world domination. This was a brilliant episode that left the viewer limp with relief and ready for next week’s episode. The Last Ship airs Sundays on TNT and is one of the best shows on television at the moment.