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.

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.