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.