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.

The Last Ship: Long Day’s Journey (recap and review)

Still from The Last Ship, searching for Achilles
Last week’s episode ended with ballistic missiles being released from the HMS Achilles and destroying most if not all of the labs. This week in The Last Ship: Long Day’s Journey the Ramsey brothers are still bickering and disagreeing about everything. Including, it seems, the “chosen” bit that Sean appears to believe wholeheartedly in. Ned, is not a devotee of his brother’s philosophy and it remains to be seen just how long these two can continue to work together.

At the start of the episode, the Ramsey brothers are outside of a shopping mall watching survivors straggle into the building. Once again they argue about what should happen next. Ned wants to kill everyone on board the Nathan James and Sean says that the sub is going nowhere till the silencing is repaired.

On board the destroyer, Dr. Scott tells Chandler that they are running out of everything needed to keep making the cure. The ship commander tells Scott that the mission has changed and that now the Achilles is the main target. He wants that sub and the crew on it punished and Slattery reminds Chandler that if they continue combing the waters for the nuclear submarine they will run out of fuel.

His response is that they can refuel at Norfolk or some other naval bases. Scott angrily reminds Chandler about the cell cultures she needs. After a few tense moments she leaves. Dr. Hunter, Scott’s mentor, sent her a message from the Florida lab, he had improved the method of delivery for the vaccine and was uploading the procedure via the server. A last minute message from the doctor shows the lab under attack from Ramsey’s goon squad and Hunter is obviously killed before he could transfer the information.

Chandler takes Scott and a team, including Wolf-man and Ravit who come along for the ride, to the lab. The team search the area and find dead doctors everywhere, including Hunter. The computers in his office have been destroyed and some of the men retrieve some “hard data” from the ransacked room. Scott takes pictures of what looks to be a formula on a whiteboard. Previously Chandler stated that one part of the team would take her and the data back to the Nathan James and he would go on to find the sub.

As she takes the pictures, Scott says to Chandler, “When you find the people who did this…Kill them.”

Meanwhile Ned drinks bottled ale while he and Sean wait for Niels to return. Ned still dislikes Patient Zero, earlier at the mall he referred to their private “Typhoid Mary” as the Grim Reaper and said that Niels disturbed him. Niels cheerfully tells the Ramsey brothers about his visit to town which will result in death for most who encounter the walking plague.

Ned and Sean get into a heated discussion where little brother accuses Sean of being afraid of the Nathan James and his responsibilities. Sean grabs Ned and holding up a knife, tells him to “tell me I’m afraid again.” Ned acquiesces and things calm down, but only after he makes a joke, Niels watches the exchange with interest. Part of Ned’s problem is that he wants to be back home in England. The younger Ramsey brother has stated repeatedly that he hates being in the “swamp.”

Chandler and his Vulture team follow directions to a heat signature found by the crew on the destroyer. As the team approach the area, it looks like a safe zone until they find mercenaries from the Solace mingling with the crowd. As the team study the area, they realize that the “mercs” are talking to the sub. The Nathan James picks up the comms signal and begins to decrypt the message.

Meanwhile, Dr. Scott struggles to uncover the secret of Dr. Hunter’s improved delivery system for the vaccine. Bacon brings Scott some food and as he discusses the recipe and the intricacies of the preparation, “sifting the flour,” the doctor has an epiphany and realizes that a food base is required for the delivery system.

Tex infiltrates the safe zone group and gets clothing. Coming back with the booty, he says the group of people are having a regular “love in.” Chandler decides to blend in with the safe zone crowd as they appear to be leaving en masse. He splits his team and puts Wolf-man in charge. His half of the team put on civilian clothes, dispose of their weapons and get on the school bus. Everyone else, including Tex and Wolf-man follow. Chandler talks to the woman beside him on the bus and learns that they are on their way to meet Sean.

Meanwhile, Scott is working with a confused Bacon to perfect the formula that Hunter died for. As Vulture team head to the meeting point with Sean, XO Slattery and his team are tracking the sub’s radio signal. Learning that it is not from the sub but a buoy, the XO decides to blow it up preventing the Achilles from talking to anyone. Ned is on the radio to Ian back at the sub and directing him to find the destroyer when the missile the Nathan James fires hits the buoy and cuts of transmission. Ramsey throws the radio in frustration.

Back on the ship, Scott has discovered that the missing ingredient is cornstarch and she asks the Chief to give her a couple of machinists to manufacture a device to make the stuff work. Tex and Danny go to work while Chandler and Burk are in the big complex and the commander recognizes the Irish voice warming up the crowd before Sean’s speech in the ballroom as the man in the Hunter message.

Back on the Nathan James, Slattery is concerned about Chandler and his three teams, Vulture, Tiger and Cobra. Talking to Wolf-man, the XO tells him to get things sorted so he knows what is going on.

In the ballroom, Sean Ramsey shows he can work a crowd and Chandler recognizes Ned from the Solace. As the mercenary leader whips the group up into a patriotic fervor, he announces Secretary Michener as the new president of the United States.

In The Last Ship this week there were several stand out moments. From the Chief warning Chandler not to become an “Ahab” searching for his white whale, to the cold blooded murder of the doctors in the lab the show impressed, as usual. Once again the writers have the Brit slang coming hot and heavy from the mercenary faction. No muppets this week, but still spot on in terms of military verbiage, i.e. git.

There was even another tense and quite exciting moment where the crew send out a “bird” to take out the buoy that the Achilles is using to transmit their radio signal. The other tense moment came when Chandler recognized Ned in the ballroom and had to shift position so the other mad-as-a-hatter Ramsey brother could not spot him.

This should be rather interesting. Sean Ramsey has pumped these immune survivors almost to a frenzy. Their belief that they have been “chosen” has turned them into a further extension of his soldiers for hire. What will happen when, or if, Ned notices Chandler could turn things very deadly for him and Burk. Even if Ned does not identify the commander of the Nathan James, Niels (“creepy git” mutters Ned backstage) definitely will.

The Last Ship airs Sundays on TNT. Do not miss this cracking blend of science fiction, drama and action.

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.

The Last Ship TNT Season 2 Premiere (recap/review)

Poster for The Last Ship
After last season’s finale of The Last Ship saw the ship taken over by former Congresswoman Granderson, who elected herself Baltimore leader after the established hierarchy died from the pandemic, and all of Chandler’s crew captured by her troopers, the TNT season 2 premiere takes up the story. Dr. Scott has been captured, along with Granderson’s own daughter and made a prisoner in Avocet where the woman expects the scientist to cooperate with making the primordial vaccine for the privileged few.

Chandler has escaped with his remaining family and a small contingent of men and he heads to the people burning power station to shut it down. Mike Slattery, the ship’s doctor and a few others are trying to keep Quincy alive and the doc takes the vial of primordial and hides it in his medical kit.

Dropping off his father and two kids, Chandler and his men take control of the power station and meets the leader of the “resistance” Thorwald and the two men agree to join forces to take Amy Granderson and Avocet down as well as get Chandler’s crew and ship back.

At the house, Chandler’s son is sick and his sister is getting worried. Scott talks Granderson into letting her treat some of the regular people and not waste the vaccine on healthy residents of Avocet. Tex learns what is really going on with Granderson from a local and he heads into the company grounds to find out first hand how he can help.

In last season’s finale, the crew of the Nathan James who were not taken back on board and held hostage, are horrified to learn how Granderson is keeping the lights on and Scott, in the first half of the season 2 premiere, Unreal City is horrified to see that there are people from Avocet selling false cures to the main population not considered worthy of saving by Amy Granderson.

On the destroyer a few men have gotten free and are trying to gain control of the armory and take out the troopers. In Fight the Ship Lt. Foster is strapped on an operating table and Granderson’s lead scientist is about to shove a needle into her fetus to make their own vaccine when the lights go out.

Chandler and Thorwald have cut the power and Dr. Scott, along with Tex, come in to rescue Foster just after she deals a little poetic justice to Granderson’s expert. Chandler’s plan is working, Granderson pulls out troopers from Avocet and the Nathan James to get the power back on, leaving both the ship and her headquarters vulnerable.

By the time the end credits roll, Chandler has won. Granderson steps down permanently after declaring she was not a monster and Thorwald bites the big one. Adam Baldwin gets to prove once more that any character he plays is the biggest bull in the woods and for the time being there is a respite for all those who have survived Amy Granderson and Baltimore.

As it stands, the Nathan James lost a few crew members but the survivors have drawn closer together and shown that they can work through anything. Eric Dane still exudes that quiet authority despite losing his wife to the flu. While that is hard on his character, it works well for the show’s plot line since it looks like Rhona Mitra’s Dr. Scott will definitely become a romantic interest to Chandler at some point.

TNT have done well with their post apocalyptic thriller and season 2 has gotten off to a cracking start. All the main characters are being brought to life by the actors playing them and the audience is beginning to care about more than the “top three.” There was enough action and shootouts to please viewers that are more action oriented. The Last Ship airs Sundays on TNT.