‘The Last Ship’: Invulnerable

Published 9 months ago by

the last ship slattery sos The Last Ship: Invulnerable

[This review of The Last Ship season 1, episode 7 contains SPOILERS.]


After last week’s focus on the dangerous marriage between paranoia and tight spaces, the latest episode of The Last Ship seemed to turn its eyes toward hope, selflessness and the possibility of a woman who is naturally immune to the virus; thus, potentially aiding Doctor Scott in her effort to discover a vaccine. To get to that woman, though, the crew of the US Nathan James had to literally climb over bodies before dealing with a rapidly approaching and well armed group of Russian sailors that were dispatched by Admiral Ruskov.

Debuting at the very end of the second episode, ‘Welcome to Gitmo, before making his full debut in the third episode, ‘Dead Reckoning’, Russian Admiral Ruskov and his crew have stayed on the fringes, spoken of but not seen since the US Nathan James’ daring escape through a narrow and shallow canal. For their re-appearance this week, though, the Russians remained aggressive, targeting the same near-abandoned fishing boat that the Nathan James was after in their effort to rescue Patrice, the young woman with the possible immunity.

Why would they target this vessel and openly court combat with the Americans? Why do they want Dr. Scott? Beyond power hunger and vague hints about their own scientist (whose backstory with the virus kicked off the episode), we still really don’t have a good answer. But while that was frustrating last time around, we’re more able to tolerate Ruskov this time around. It’s not that his cigar chomping bad guy routine is toned down, so much as we just have to hear and see less of it. Unfortunately, that doesn’t look to be the case next week.

the last ship crew sos The Last Ship: Invulnerable

If you’ve seen this show before (or any show, really), you know that nothing ever goes according to plan. As I said, the Russians have targeted the fishing boat as well, so shortly after the Nathan James strike team (led by the Captain, Tex, CMC Jeter and a trembley-handed Cossetti) locates Patrice, a firefight begins and the Captain (Eric Dane) orders Jeter (Charles Parnell) and Cossetti (Tommy Savas) to take Patrice back to the Nathan James while he and Tex (John Pyper-Ferguson) fend off their combatants.

What follows is a rather thrilling action sequence with plenty of firepower and high-speed watercrafts. This show excels when it has the chance to put their players in the midst of a firefight and this is no exception; at the end of the fight, though, only our heroes can stand (of course). However, while Tex and Captain Chandler make it out of the fight alive, their raft has taken a fatal hit and they are forced to abandon ship, setting up a conflict between the Captain (who orders the Nathan James to cease all search and recovery missions for him, effectively killing himself and Tex) and XO Slattery, who mostly ignores the Captain’s order while also trying to evade Russian detection with his search efforts.

I like that there is some tension between the Captain and Tex over the former’s act of self-sacrifice, but it descends into figurative “aw shucks” backslaps almost immediately, losing the moment. Still, as Tex and the Captain float and swim towards the reef (because even when the Captain doesn’t have a plan, he has a plan), we do get to hear Tex declare his intentions for Dr. Scott (to Chandler’s amusement) and a bit of vulnerability from the square jawed and tough as nails Captain. So at least we’ve got some incremental character growth going for us.

Speaking of Dr. Scott, while she has a very real human moment with Patrice, a woman who has literally seen everyone that she knows meet their end because of this virus. Dr. Scott’s decision to greet her on the ship deck and speak with her in the lab sans mask (her escort, CMC Jeter also kept his mask off in her presence) is frustrating. This show has a habit of making it painfully clear how vital Dr. Scott’s work is and how important it is that they use precautions – two things that we saw a bit of last week – but they have occasionally skipped the masks when it seems like it will be harder to have a human moment with them on.

the last ship drscott sos The Last Ship: Invulnerable

How does Dr. Scott know that Patrice is telling the truth and that she isn’t sick? It’s a longshot that this innocent and young girl would deceive the crew, but desperation makes people do hideous things and while it’s unlikely, is it responsible for Dr. Scott to risk all of humanity (which would be greatly jeopardized if she got sick and/or the virus hit the crew) on this stranger’s say-so? That question is what’s going through my head during this human moment between the Doctor and Patrice, and it’s ultimately more distracting than what the sight of Dr. Scott consoling the girl while wearing her cleansuit would have been. In the end, Patrice does prove to be legit, though, meaning that Dr. Scott has found a huge breakthrough, but at the same time, the Russians have scored a major victory in their own right.

Indeed, I really like the way that the producers play with our expectations a little at the end of this episode. Of course the Nathan James helicopter has spotted the Captain and Tex in the nick of time, foiling the evil Russians once again. But then, that’s not at all the case and the Russians actually wind up acquiring a huge bargaining chip in their quest to steal Dr. Scott and her work – a chip that they know the Nathan James will be eager to get back since, as Ruskov happily observes, he now knows that the crew will go to extremes to save the Captain.

Will The Last Ship ever go to such extremes, though? Will it shock our expectations on a more regular basis, perhaps going so far as to kill off a main character or show us another severe consequence that strays from the show’s now established and sometimes boring formula? Because, right now, we know that we will see the Captain and Tex in a cage next week and we figure that Slattery (Adam Baldwin) will likely come up with some kind of inspired maneuver to get the Captain and Tex to safety, once again leaving the Russians in the dust.

Could producers potentially trade off Dr. Scott (setting off ample tension between Chandler and Slattery) or even possibly kill off Tex? We know that Captain Chandler is safe, but while Tex has been a fun loving character with an easy going personality, his loss (after his professed feelings about Doctor Scott) would be affecting, and we need to see that these characters are vulnerable to such things so that this show doesn’t start to become a bore.

The Last Ship airs on TNT Sunday nights @9PM ET.

Follow Jason Tabrys on Twitter @jtabrys
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  1. Even if she was immune to the virus, she still could have been a carrier. They should have made her wear a suit.

    • My thoughts exactly.

  2. first, if you didnt see it coming a nautical mile away that that was a russian helicopter than you might want to watch some more movies and TV cause thats a trick as old as s***.

    Second, I kind of enjoy this show though and I can relate to the sentiment that comes through your review in general.

    Seeing the deserted comment thread for the review though, I have a feeling this will be a one season event type of thing.

    • The “play with our expectations” remark was meant to reflect the expectations that we/I have for this show. Unfortunately, The Last Ship has gone for the smooth and happy ending often, so I assumed that they were going there again.

      The show was renewed for season 2 a couple of weeks ago.

      • Yeah, Sorry, but I got what you meant the first time, what I meant was that though the so called expected result was for that to be the Americans in the helicopter, The plot “twist” where its actually the Russians in the helicopter was still very much obvious, in that it was an attempt from the writers to indeed surprise us but the mechanism they pulled (the cuts back and forth from the chopper perspective to the captain and Tex’s perspective) was so contrived it spilled the beans on the writers true intentions.

        Moreover, regardless of the mechanism they used the plot was all too obvious, the captain himself goes out on a mission that succeeds but he ends up stranded, then after the Russian captain yells a bit on his men for their incompetence in bringing in the Americans he suddenly stops and say “Nah.. all good, were all good” well, that was kinda of a big tell that the Russians are going to pull something. Plus nothing else bad happened throughout the episode, just good stuff so.. add all that to the way they edited the chopper scene and you get one fine piece of expected, predictable, contrived, coming a mile a way TV

        And oh! Nice to hear they got picked up for a second season, As I said I actually do enjoy the show, as banal as it is, it just dumb fun, would be great if it would have been more than that, but this is okay too, not everything needs to be a “True detective” or a “Fargo”.

        • Was the line, “Everything is wonderful”? It was something like that, but I see what you’re saying. And I generally agree with you about this being a fun show and how everything doesn’t have to be Fargo, etc. I’d like to see a little bit more dare, though. I keep coming back to The Walking Dead, which isn’t in the same weight class of a True Detective (and this show isn’t in the same weight class as TWD either), but which has these sparkling moments because occasionally the show is shocking for more than shock’s sake. You feel that there are consequences on the screen for bad decisions. If this show could get halfway there, I think a lot of people would be more satisfied by it.

  3. I know it’s just a TV show, but… come on! Is it so difficult to get science right? It is not that you need to make a dissertation, but simply using plain common sense. The devil is in the details, and those details -or lack of, actually- is what makes this show such a nonsense.

    By the way, the only hazmat suit that really resembles what an epidemiologist would use -or troops- when working with a virus of the lethality purported in the show, is the one used by Dr. Scott. The rest of them, particularly those of the sailors wouldn’t protect them at all.

    Truth be told, it is annoyingly frequent in other supposedly “scientific” shows. In last Sunday episode of The Lottery, the supposed “scientists” that are researching the fertility crisis detect in the blood of the one single man on Earth able to fertilize a woman’s egg… Black Death Virus! Yes, really… virus. Well, Pasteurella Pestis IS a bacteria, not a virus, which any high school student with a passing curiosity on biology would be able to tell the showrunners.

    I don’t know why those small idiocies bother me so much. Perhaps I am a bore, or maybe it is because I dislike lazyness. Because that is what it is: the lazyness of no bothering checking your facts, which nowadays is as easy as reading the relevant entry in the Wikipedia!

    • Here’s a thing that also caught my eye: when Tex dives into the water, the Captain has him put his gas mask on. That’s not accurate either, far as I could tell from the small bit of googling that I did while writing the review

  4. The Russian captain is a slimeball for forcing Quincy’s wife to sleep with him in exchange for comfortable accommodations while she and their daughter are held prisoners.

  5. Never thought I would say this but I like McSteamy in his role as captain.

    This show actually reminds me of Star Trek: TNG, where the captain always insists on going on away missions even though it’s more vital he stay with the ship.

  6. They knew she was immune because they know the incubation period for the disease & had been picking up transmissions from her for weeks as she reported the deaths around her. That bit it seems obvious to me they got right, no chance she was lying. I agree though she could be a carrier, or more importantly, crew members were unavailable because they were in decontamination despite their suits & yet she’s meeting the doctor & wandering around the ship with no decontamination, wearing the same clothes she wore around the virus ridden corpses for weeks, huh?

    • That’s a valid point about the transmissions, but overall, yeah… it was a little sloppy.

  7. Our WTF moment was when they shot the missile to take out the drone. The resident retired Navy Chief OS was almost apoplectic. The resident retired Air Force medic was nuts over the lack of the hazmats suits when Patrice came on board. (trust but verify) any way, we do enjoy the show very much even though there are some hilarious military customs and courtesy whoopses. We find that sending the Captain on these off ship adventures is not very realistic, (where are the red shirts?!?!?) but it was nice seeing Jayne I mean Slattery at the top of the chain of command. I am hoping that the Russian villain gains a little more depth… We will stay tuned.

    • Are you the borg?

      • Resistance is futile!

      • no, not even close.