An approaching attack squad heats up life on the island, leading to a diplomatic shootout...and an actual shootout!
The second episode of Last Resort began about 24 hours after Captain Chaplin colonized the island of Sainte Marina and declared a policy of Mutual Assured Destruction with the entire world. Suffice it to say that the geopolitical situation quickly escalated. The episode began with the Colorado perusing the waters around the Independent Nation of Chaplinia. Some American submarines were testing the waters around the 200-mile line. Chaplin took this opportunity to test the mysterious anti-radar device onboard the Colorado: A device called the Perseus Prototype. (Perseus: Greek hero who survived being cast adrift on the open sea, later killed a sea monster, was retroactively declared the first whaler by Herman Melville in Moby Dick. Also starred in various Titanses.) The Prototype worked. Chaplin nudged another submarine with an unarmed torpedo, the naval equivalent of a really hard backslap.
If Last Resort is going to succeed, it’s going to have to establish some intriguing power dynamics back on the Island. This episode focused on one emerging threat in the Colorado‘s midst: The imprisoned Chief of the Boat (or COB, as everyone calls him), who is stirring up some trouble from his prison cell. The COB is not in a very good mood. “When they find you guilty of mutiny, murder, it’s not gonna be the jail cell that gets to you,” he explained. “It’s the sound of people outside chanting for your death.” When Chaplin insisted that he was only doing his duty, COB bluntly told him: “Your duty, sir, is to fire when you’re told to fire. To be the strong and unwavering first of our nation.” “I always appreciated your candor, COB,” said Chaplin, clearly just marking off the days until Last Resort gets a back-nine pick-up and the public executions can start.
Lest you were concerned that this show would just be about simmering resentment and backroom power struggles — Boardwalk Empire on an Island — a passenger 747 passed curiously close to the island. The threat was clear: Everyone agreed that they had probably dropped a squad of Deltas, who would be approaching the Island capitol in a manner of hours. Grace and Sam volunteered to take on the attacking Deltas, but they needed some help.
So they went down to the local watering hole to have a chat with James, the Bright-Eyed Navy SEAL. James was working through a serious hangover, with the help of the bartender from Dollhouse, who I will continue to refer to as “the bartender from Dollhouse” until she officially introduces herself. (A reminder: Refer to our handy dandy Last Resort character guide if you’re still using diagrams to keep the massive cast straight.)
James advised her to leave the island before things went apocalyptic; she said told him the old story about how the island was plucked from the bottom of the ocean by angry gods, and deadpanned, “Telling an islander they’re gonna die violently is just reminding us we’re home.” Grace asked James for some help with the Delta mission. James responded by stripping in front of her, telling her exactly how she was going to die, and then taking a shower.
Up at UN Central, Sam received a phone call from his favorite angelic blonde wife. She told him that the government was offering him full amnesty, and then suddenly yelled, “Don’t trust them! Whatever they say to you!” The shadowy conspirators ended the phone call and looked conspiratorial. Considering that Sam was just about to set off on a mission that would either end with him dead or with a bunch of Americans dead, it’s fair to say that his day was just not off to a good start. Chaplin gave him a half-time pump-up speech by referring to the Siege of Grozny back in 1994. (Terrifying fact: If you look up “Battle of Grozny” on Wikipedia, there are ten different entries.) Chaplin ended his speech by noting, “Sometimes the enemy is just the man keeping you from getting home.” A nice bit of subtext here: Is Chaplin the guy keeping Sam from getting home?
Next: The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!Meanwhile, back in DC: Hotshot young weapons lobbyist Kylie Sinclair is on the prowl for some information! She walked into one of those bars in DC where all the dudes look like the smartest guy in the frat house. One guy said they should just fire a bunch of missiles at the Colorado. Kylie said that idea was silly: Once the Colorado fired its tridents, America would be doomed, “Because somebody kept my daddy from building ‘Star Wars’ 20 years ago.” (Aside: Wait, so is she the daughter of Ronald Reagan? End of Aside.) Kylie was there to meet with her mole deep in the government. She actually referred to him as a mole. When the mole said “Shhh,” Kylie said, “I could give you a lapdance right here and no would notice today.” She pointedly did not actually give him a lapdance, thus proving that — despite what the series premiere promised — Kylie Sinclair will not be stripping down to black lingerie in every episode of Last Resort.
Grace was preparing to set off on the Delta Squad mission. The COB was whispering some instructions to his guards: “Shepard killed one of us. Sometimes, in battle, these things have a way of working themselves out.” (Aside: Robert Patrick, killing ever line. End of Aside.) James and his Navy SEAL pal walked by the squad and made fun of how silly they looked with their equipment all in the wrong place. Those Navy SEALs, such kidders! I think they were also wearing matching Capri shorts.
(Angelic Blonde Wife Interlude: Throughout the episode, we kept cutting back to the interrogation room where the shadowy conspirators were working over Christine. At one point, they showed her some video of Sam, talking about being taken captive in North Korea, where he apparently had to suffer through torture methods taking out of The Deer Hunter — which is at least less torturous than actually watching The Deer Hunter. We learned that Chaplin ultimately broke the rules to save Sam, which is all part of the governments’ counter-narrative for why they have turned rebel. Also, at the end of the episode, the shadowy conspirators hired the dude from Hostel to cozy up to Sam’s wife. The dude from Hostel had one of the best lines of the week: “”She’s got faith, and she’s in love. Both those things are curable.” Watch this space for more exciting updates about the Angelic Blonde Wife in weeks to come!)
Sam and Grace set up their defense squad in an open field. Grace was partnered up with the guys who were planning to kill her. She was aware of this plan, and told them flat-out: “If you’re going to shoot me in the back, maybe it can wait until we’re done here.” Sam decided to play Pay it Forward with the halftime speeches and told Grace: “You gonna get married someday, Lieutenant? Well, I plan on being at that wedding.” Geez, way to invite yourself, dude.
There was a tense moment when the Delta guys appeared. Would Sam give the order to fire on his fellow Americans? Ultimately, he couldn’t do it. He stood up and announced his peaceful intentions. “We’re all Americans!” he said. “Some of you gotta be wondering what you’re doing here! Hell, I don’t even know what I’m doing here!” It was a passionate, semi-existential speech. Unfortunately, the American soldiers had a little secret: They weren’t American. “They’re not Deltas!” Sam screamed. “They’re Russian Spetznaz!” And just like that, Last Resort officially restarted the Cold War. Yeesh, what are they gonna do in Episode Three? Reinstate the Austro-Hungarian Empire?
Next: Ah, for the good cold daysChaplin used the bigscreen Skype relay back at UN HQ to call up his buddy Viktor at the Kremlin. The conversation went something like this:
Chaplin: Someone in the Kremlin is making a play for our submarine.
Viktor: Oh, Marcus, I’m sorry to hear that! But you know, it’s very late here in Moscow. You know how us Russians are: Vodka and caviar, eh, tovarisch? Can we discuss this in the morning?
Chaplin: I’m going to target one of my nukes at the base where your sons are stationed and turn it to glass.
Viktor: Hey, what do you know, we did send some guys to that island! Haha, sorry about that. What can I say: Russia!
Chaplin reminded Viktor about an incident back in the old Cold War days when there was a kid trapped on the ice: “You and I called off the Cold War for an hour so you could get him topside.” It was a reminder of a simple fact that there is always wiggle room in global politics. (Like a Cormac McCarthy wasteland, too, not one of those pansy T.S. Eliot wastelands.) Viktor talked openly to Chaplin, as an old friend. Then Chaplin turned up the audio on Line Two and revealed that Secretary of Defense Curry had been on the line the whole time. “Unless you wanna start World War III, you pull those men back now.” Ah, diplomacy!
Meanwhile, in the killing field, Grace went full badass, took down a couple Russians, and wound up getting into a knock-down tackle-fight with the last guy. She was about to get killed, until — inspired by the Dollhouse Bartender and her whimsical decision to cover his face with Warrior Paint — James fired several rounds out of his sniper rifle and officially ended the Cold War for the second time. (Aside: I freely admit that Facepaint-James was kind of silly, but I like the implicit hints we’re getting that the bartender — and the other islanders — aren’t just going to be innocent bystanders. They’re players in this game, too. But the question is: Is this game Risk or is it Settlers of Catan? End of Aside.)
The Colorado lost six of its men in the fight, and they took a couple of prisoners. Back in town square, an angry American survivor tried to execute the Russians. Chaplin gave a speech to counterbalance the violence: “Let me remind you Who You Are. You are the American crew of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine Colorado. As Americans, there’s no debate about the fate of our POWs.” It was a good speech, and it worked only because everyone still has complete faith in Chaplin.
Unfortunately, the COB was watching all this happen — and he had a piece of information to share with everyone. Turns out that Chaplin’s son — the guy we’ve seen in photos and videos — actually died two weeks ago, killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. The COB had a simple conclusion to draw: “Are you doing this because you wanted payback on the country that took your son away from you?”
All in all, I don’t think this second episode of Last Resort lived up to the promise of the premiere, but the closing scenes brought it all together. Grace went into the bar and handed James a list of the names of the six men who died before James came along. “I got my own list,” said James, “A lot longer than that.” The Dollhouse bartender congratulated James on becoming a peacemaker. “You think I’m making peace, Tani?” he said. “I just ran out of people to kill.” A great line. And now we can call her Tani!
Back in DC, Kylie discovered that her mole had been given the braindead coma treatment. (Aside: Does anyone else feel like the Last Resort conspiracy is remarkably similar to the conspiracy in Prison Break? End of Aside.) Meanwhile, Sam and Chaplin shared a moment. Sam asked Chaplin to cry for his dead son; Chaplin did. (Andre Braugher!) “What hurts us the most, that’s our strength,” said Sam. “That’s what gets us through.”
All in all, an interesting episode. I’m still not quite sure what kind of show Last Resort is — parts of the episode felt almost like a military procedural, more like a slightly unhinged semi-sequel to Shawn Ryan’s The Unit than a nuclear-pumped remake of Shawn Ryan’s The Shield — but I’m actually kind of excited by that confusion. And there was ambient talk about Cortez and Brannan, the two captured sailors — possibly setting us up for some serious island politicking with Julian in the next episode.
What did you think of Last Resort‘s sophomore outing, fellow viewers? Intrigued by all the developments on the island? Confused by all the shadowy conspiratizing off the island? Wondering if Robert Patrick will be an Emmy frontrunner or a too-cool-for-school Emmy also-ran?
Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich