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: Uneasy Lies the Head Review (Spoilers)

The new president and CMC Jeter Last week on The Last Ship the show was all about the new president Jeff Michener. Uneasy Lies the Head focuses upon Niels’ presence on the Nathan James, Rachel Scott’s struggle to deal with him and to find a way to “aerosolize” the vaccine. This episode also sees a return to action, not a lot, but enough to wet the whistle.

This may well be the most satisfying episode of The Last Ship thus far.

*Warning* If you have not watched the episode stop reading now.

Rhona Mitra’s character was finally able to deal with Niels Sorensen, aka Patient Zero. The sole survivor from the Russian ship that the Nathan James blew out of the water. The most despicable character in the whole show, apart from the Ramsey brothers, who despite their comic bickering are just as bad, if not worse than Niels.

Sadly, for the Norwegian scientist, his worse crime, after developing the virus that, as Dr. Scott says toward the end of the episode, killed 5 billion people was being lonely. Chandler tells Rachel at the start that the man grabbed a raft and floated up on an American shore. Being taken in by a group of survivors, that he killed by infecting them, Niels then wandered from camp to camp taking what he needed and leaving a trail of death behind him.

The two separate plot lines deal with Michener working out his issues, with a little help from CMC Jeter (Charles Parnell) and the Niels story. Of course the Patient Zero thread leads to the discovery of a group of juveniles who try to take the small Navy team, who are looking for mussels for Dr. Scott, captive so they can sell them to the immunes.

There are issues aplenty in this episode. Michener still has a lot of anguish to defeat before he can wear that presidential mantle properly. Chandler knows that the man needs plenty of support so he assigns Jeter to Michener who tried to kill himself in the previous episode. The commander tells his Chief that he will need to be all things to Michener while he tries to pull himself together.

It looks like an uphill battle at first, the president goes down for something to eat and is overwhelmed by Bacon and another crew member who want nothing more than to make the country’s new commander-in-chief happy. Michener cuts his visit short, referencing a non-existant meeting. Outside the dining hall, he reveals to the Chief that he is still struggling.

Another member of the Nathan James who is struggling, apart from Niels who is working to recover from being shot, is Dr. Rachel Scott. Her problem is Niels being on board and she initially refuses to talk to him. Chandler tells her to work at it, “He killed my wife,” says the commander, “If I can talk to him so can you.”

When the crew heads out to find the mussels for Scott, they encounter a group of teenagers who are being lead by a 17 year old boy named Ray (Adam Irigoyen). As the team land at the docks, they spy a runner and Burk follows. As he catches up, he finds himself surrounded by an armed group of teens. After a brief stand off, the rest of the landing team force the youngsters to stand down.

Chandler works at getting Ray to divulge where the Immunes are and what the signal was, the Ramsey’s “chosen” have put a bounty on the crew of the Nathan James, and Ray’s group hoped to collect it. Meanwhile Scott works on Niels as she narrows down the options of delivering the vaccine via an air borne system. Rachel learns that the virus has moved to Niels’ lungs and after this discovery, she focusses on getting Niels to do more than his token effort at solving her problems with the vaccine.

At first Niels claims that he cannot remember the bonding agent he used when developing the pandemic virus. As Rachel begins to work on the Norwegian’s innate loneliness, and his apparent crush on her, Patient Zero provides more information, including how he bonded his DNA to the virus.

Back on the mussel trip, Ray agrees to help Chandler with the proviso that he be allowed to fight the Immunes. Chandler agrees and the rest of the kids are moved to the Nathan James to be relocated to another safe zone. Two other boys want to stay and fight with Ray and they approach Tex to see if he will help.

He will not and sends the two on their way.

Chandler’s team, which is comprised of Burk, Ravit, Wolf-Man, Green, Tex and the commander ambush the Immunes when they arrive. Ray is locked in his trailer after he shoots off a flare, the agreed signal, thinking that he has forced Chandler into letting him fight. Cue a firefight between the two factions. Tex is pinned down by 50 calibre machine gun fire and the destroyer sends a couple of rounds into the shootout.

As the fighting calms down, Ray gets out of his trailer after Chandler learns that one of the two boys who wanted to stay behind, Cody, did just that. His friend covered for him and he snuck back to fight. In the middle of the short battle, Chandler takes off to find Cody and as the fight ends, he finds the boy’s body.

He also finds an Immune fighter who tells Chandler that his bosses really want him alive, but that if he resists, he can be killed. Ray shoots the Immune in the back with a speargun spear and saves Chandler.

Back on the Nathan James Dr. Scott has worked out the puzzle of the vaccine distribution and she has figured out how to get the agent out of Niels’ lungs. The virus “hiding” in Niels’ lungs made him immune to the death he was spreading. Rachel puts something in Patient Zero’s drip that releases the virus which then attacks Niels.

As they talk about removing the virus from his lungs, Niels says he will not allow her to perform the procedure as it will kill him. She tells him that she has already done it. Niels’ left eye begins to drip blood and he starts to panic. In a very short time he winds up on his back, blood covering his teeth and dripping out of his eyes. Niels begins choking and yelling as he dies.

After this brutal moment, the new country’s leader, President Michener, takes charge. Outlining plans that will allow the group to move forward and to begin a concerted rescue effort for the survivors around New Orleans. XO Slattery looks impressed and Jeter looks satisfied. Chandler has proved that he was right to rally behind the president and that his decision to put CMC Jeter in charge of Michener’s recovery was the right one to make.

Rhona Mitra as Rachel Scott was brilliant in her part of the story as was Ebon Moss-Bachrach who played Niels. While the sight of the “lonely” Patient Zero expiring from his own virus may seem a bit cold hearted, one only needs to remember those booby trapped teddy bears for any possible sympathy for Niels to disappear.

The Last Ship airs Sundays on TNT. Great post-apocalyptic pandemic entertainment that should not be missed.

The Last Ship: Safe Zone (review)

Eric Dane as Commander Chandler
Last week’s episode of The Last Ship, had plenty of white knuckle moments as Chandler pulled the president from Ramsey’s grasp and Safe Zone is a slower ride but no less intense. While there were no shootouts this week or any action sequences, the storyline following the new president was emotional and almost as full of suspense as the previous episode.

Safe Zone belongs to Eric Dane, as Commander Chandler, and to new cast member Mark Moses who plays the new president, by default, Jeff Michener. Adam Baldwin proves that he can play understated very well thank you in his scenes with the president. Rhona Mitra only appears very briefly toward the end where she shows the “recovered” commander-in-chief the virus-filled teddy bears that Niels was working on.

The whole of the episode was based upon Michener’s realization that Ramsey’s lies were his aid to dealing with the horror of what he had done to his daughters. This, added to the fact that he brought his son down to the safe zone; who then infected everyone, put the man straight into internal meltdown mode. Ramsey’s group took in the new president with sickening ease. After talking to Baldwin, whom Michener accused of lying to him, the president reveals to Chandler that he wandered around the survivor camps attempting to get the disease.

While the storyline followed the journey of XO Slattery and Chandler “curing” the president of his “brainwashing” from the Ramsey brothers, it was also about trying to give the survivors some semblance of the old order. Chief Jeter (Charles Parnell) tells Slattery at one point that Chandler is working hard to “turn” the president because he needs someone to “salute to.”

In essence Jeter is correct, as proved at the end of the episode when Chandler squares up and salutes the new president, because the commander of the Nathan James realizes that with the Ramsey’s spreading lies and fear, the remnants of the country need a figure head. Sean realized this and it was this knowledge that motivated him to condition Jeff Michener to be theirs.

While the threat of the sub is not directly dealt with until late in the show, when Michener reveals to the crew that the Achilles has a sound matting problem, the mercenaries provided an indirect threat via the president’s belief that he was one of the “chosen.” Something that he was desperate to cling to as it made the horror of what he had gone through easier to cope with. It took a lot of work from Chandler to “break” Michener and to make him realize that the Ramsey’s were not the answer.

This was a powerhouse episode in terms of performance. Eric Dane proved that not only can he be heroic and one hell of an action figure, but he can portray deep emotion that is touching, gentle and moving. The scenes where he listens to Michener talking of murdering his daughters to save them from the horrific death they faced from the virus, were tear inducing, even before Dane’s character loosed a few tears at the presidents story.

As the tormented new US leader, Mark Moses was full of self tortured anguish and he did this so well that it came as no surprise when he tried to kill himself. A brilliant bit of acting that took him from suspicious patsy to tragic figure in one episode. The chemistry between Dane and Moses was brilliant and when Dane’s Chandler tells the grieving man that “We’ve all done things,” the viewer gets caught up in the emotions and the moment.

The clues were there, the presidents distrust and unbelieving attitude while dealing with Slattery, showed a desperate side to Michener. Sean Ramsey had become his talisman, as had the group of the “chosen” and to not follow Ramsey’s doctrine meant his family’s death had no meaning.

As Chandler points out later, why on earth would the man try to infect himself and die in the most horrible way imaginable if not as a sort of redemption. The slow reveal combined with Slattery’s lack of faith in the new president and Jeter’s calm appraisal of Chandler’s needs made this an episode with an almost perfect combination of writing, script and direction.

It says much about the writing of this series that by the end of the episode Michener was no longer a figure viewed with suspicion. Mark Moses and the writers allowed the character to become all too human and tragic. His initial allegiance with the Ramsey’s made perfect sense and the new president was no longer in the category of villain, reluctant or otherwise.

“Creepy Git” (As Ned refers to patient zero) Niels was nowhere to be seen and the only real reference made to him was in relation to those horrific pandemic teddy bears. While Chandler has stated that the next port of call for the Nathan James will be New Orleans, one can only hope that they stop along the way to blow the Achilles and the Ramsey’s crew of mercenaries out of the water.

The Last Ship airs Sundays on TNT and is top notch post apocalyptic fare.

Carriers (2009): The World Ends with a Cough

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As apocalyptic films go, this offering from the writing and directing duo of David and Alex Pastor is pretty damned good. In case you’re wondering why their names sound so familiar, it’s probably because they gave us the film Splinter as well as a few other gruesome films. I do mean gruesome in a “good” way.

The world has been infected with a plague. This viral (and air-borne) disease is an instant death sentence. With no cure in sight, survivors are trying to hold out until a cure can be found. The Green Brothers; Brian and Danny have teamed up with two girls and they’re heading to Turtle Beach. A place from their childhood; a place that holds happy memories and a chance to escape the disease.

Starring Chris Pine as the arsehole-ish older alpha male brother (Brian) of Lou Taylor Pucci (Danny) and the self acclaimed leader of their little band of survivors. The other members of the gang are: Piper Perabo as Bobby, Brian’s love interest and Emily VanCamp as Kate, who is maybe and maybe not, Danny’s love interest.

*On a side note here. Am I alone in thinking that VanCamp could pass as a Helen Hunt clone? She really resembles the older actress. Or is it just me? Answers on a postcard please.*

At the beginning of the film, this little band of travellers come across Frank (Christopher Meloni) and his sick daughter Jodie (Kiernan Shipka) rather than help the two by giving them much-needed petrol (gasoline) they swerve their car around and cause damage to the oil pump. They wind up going back and “taking” Frank, Jodie and their car with them.

It is the addition of these two that changes the path of the film and affects everyone in the gang of four.

Frank and Jodie; deadly cargo.
Frank and Jodie; deadly cargo.

I really enjoyed the film, despite it being about the umpteenth apocalyptic film I’ve seen this year. (Jeeze, obsession much?) I decided to give it a go, even though the trailer was a bit misleading. It looked like yet another Zombie Apocalypse, but it is not. It is an ensemble “end of the world” film that relies on the power of the story and the actors to sell it.

I think they succeeded.

All the actors delivered, no matter how small their screen time actually was. Mark Moses (Paul Young on Desperate Housewives among other great roles) was brilliant as the emotionally shattered Doctor who the group meet in Farmington. Honourable mention also has to be given to Kiernan Shipka as the “masked” Jodie. Despite not getting to see her whole face for the majority of her performance, she sold it, baby, she sold it.

At about an hour and a half running time, the film is not overly long and the story moves forward quite well.

I got a huge “kick” out of one moment in the film where the group have decided to stay in a posh Country Club Golf Course Hotel (and yes, all such “posh” places must be capitalised, thank you) and they have inadvertently put themselves in danger. The two “blondes” of the gang, Danny and Kate recreate the kitchen scene from Jurassic Park (minus the velociraptors). To me, it was a highlight in the film and showed the makers sense of humour and their movie “geek-cred.”

This is a real 4 out of 5 star film mainly because of the strength of the performances. Amazingly, even though I did not like Brian, the leader, I at least understood him. So great result from “Team Pastor” and all of their cast.

Bleach and petrol, images of a post apocalyptic world.
Bleach and petrol, images of a post apocalyptic world.