Published on September 23rd, 2014 | by Chris Scott0
The Last Ship Review
Summary: This Michael Bay produced action-thriller might have been this summer's best summer program.
For all the crap he gets slung at him, Michael Bay is having one heck of a summer. First, his third Transformers sequel, Transformers: Age of Extinction, was the first, and only, film to hit $1 billion in ticket receipts worldwide. Then he produced the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, which, along with Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy, helped propel the August box office to shatter the previous record. And to top it all off, he conquered the small screen by producing the TNT drama, The Last Ship.
The plot overview of The Last Ship is one that we’ve all heard before. A killer virus is annihilating humanity and in the process destroying civilization as we know it. It is simple but as many other films, books, games, and television shows have proven, it is one that is highly effective.
The Last Ship’s unique take on the same-old, same-old is that the United States naval warship, The U.S.S. Nathan James, has been on a secret mission for the last four months in the arctic researching a strain of the virus that has now decimated the world. In those four months chaos has taken hold. Governments have fallen and warlords have taken their place everywhere, including the United States itself. Not knowing who to trust the Nathan James sets out in the Atlantic to continue research to procure a vaccine for the virus.
While research into the cure aboard the ship takes place, the crew must deal with escaped terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, a rogue Russian admiral, self-made dictators in Nicaragua, and even warring factions at home. Each of these encounters is capped by thrilling set pieces that put most television series to shame. And while each episode of season one often does play out like a catastrophe of the week serial, it does so on the backs of a highly charismatic cast led by Eric Dane, Rhona Mitra, and Adam Baldwin.
The Last Ship at first seems like it is Mitra’s show. the always likeable actress plays Dr. Scott, the brains behind the operation. While beautiful, and pursued by at least one crew member for romantic reasons, she is all business to the point of driving people away. Her knowledge of the virus and her research into combating it, is the core focus of the show. However it is Dane’s Commander Chandler who is the heart and soul of The Last Ship. He’s strong and likeable, giving off a presence that beckons you to follow him. And Chandler’s crew does, nearly without question but when they do arise, as they are apt to do in a weekly drama, he leads them with a fair, yet compassionate hand.
While not out of character, something I noticed that put me a bit uneasy was how Chandler continuously put himself in harms way. This man not only is the leader of the ship but he may be the only one left in the US Navy that has any real authority. To be as reckless as he is at times struck me as highly odd. That said, for as unbelievable as his actions sometimes are, it does create some excellent tension and likewise allows Adam Baldwin to steal a tiny bit of the spotlight from the other two.
Baldwin as Mike Slattery, the Executive Officer aboard the Nathan James, takes command when Chandler goes off gallivanting for the sake of action and he is far more hardnosed than his boss. My initial impression of XO Slattery was one of contempt. He seemed to be a hard ass for the sake of being a hard ass and, considering the circumstances, it came off as off-putting. But over the course of the ten episodes Slattery became a favorite of mine. Baldwin softens the character just enough over the season to make him become someone you understand and root for.
While most of the story revolves around the three main leads, the show does an excellent job of making the secondary characters and storylines meaningful as well. Be it as silly as an unprofessional relationship between crew members to the seeds of a mutiny growing on the ship, everything feels fleshed out and well positioned. Still even though everything was interwoven nicely, one of my biggest concerns with this show was its longevity.
Season one is a great weekly rollercoaster ride, but by episode nine I was beginning to fear that the show would lose its steam. I mean, how many times can you almost get the thing you need before it starts to feel tired? And as the show continued to ramp up in true Michael Bay fashion, things started to feel just that way. But in a nice change of direction, the finale both wraps up season one’s adventure and sets things up with a super disturbing twist that sets things on an even darker path than before.
I’m not normally one to lament having to wait a year before getting more of a show but The Last Ship was such a solid action packed thriller that I’m counting the days to season two. There isn’t much of a better endorsement for anything than that. TNT and Bay have a winner on their hands.