The Last Ship: Season 1
Things in the entertainment industry appear to be controlled by factors resembling those of how infection spreads. A specific theme may find favor with the release of an exceptionally successful movie or television show. From there always branch off your trading slightly as the creative forces behind them try to make the new offerings different enough from the original that they might be called ‘original’. There has been a resurgence of one particular theme lately, the apocalypse’. During the 50s and 60s it was inevitable that this report about by nuclear weapons, the prevalent technological fear. Now science has pushed into something potentially far more dangerous, or beneficial; genetic manipulation. Nuclear missiles were quite bulky objects that required a lot of personnel and property to maintain and launch. All that is necessary for bioterrorist attack is a modest laboratory to recognize any one of 1000 pathogens and breaking a few small bottles in densely populated centers. Math nature takes its course the apex of life on this planet is annihilated by something smaller than a single cell. ‘The Last Ship’, provides a significantly unique twist on this scenario that not only differentiates it from others that are thematically similar, but in many ways it connects directly back to its Cold War predecessors. Forecast on TNT is an adaptation of a novel by the same name authored by William Brinkley. It is available on Amazon Kindle and although much dramatic license was taken in adapting it for television intensely well-written novel.
In the not-too-distant future, a viral pandemic swept around the globe with frightening speed and efficiency. In its wake over 80% of humanity was left dead. Urban centers were reduced to graveyards stalked by the unlucky survivors for doing anything possible to eke out you more days of existence. There is nothing left of any form of government law enforcement authority on any level; federal, state or municipal. One U.S. Navy ship, USS Nathan James, a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer armed with the latest offensive and defensive armament technology can provide including a bank of nuclear missiles. It is manned by 218 Navy personnel including a contingent exceptionally well trained Marines. What might eventually looked to be a stroke of good fortune turned out to be the last orders of the Navy high command working with the Center for Disease Control and launch a Hail Mary pass at saving mankind. While the worst of the pandemic was occurring, the USS Nathan James was in the Arctic Circle far removed from the dangerous hot zone. On board was a mission specialist, Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra), a paleomicrobiologist, virologist and epidemiologist with impeccable credentials. Prior to this she was investigating the epicenter of the pandemic, before boarding the Nathan James an extended Arctic tour. Dr. Scott’s research represents the last hope of survival as a species.
No sooner than Dr. Scott retrieves samples buried deep in the ancient ice, a detail is set upon by a heavily armed Soviet contingent prepared to use any means possible to retrieve the samples. As it turns out with Dr. Scott required those sample samples because they represent a form of the virus that was ancient; before any human manipulation was imposed. Wasting no time she continues her research on a makeshift lab aboard the vessel. The facility words cordoned off from the rest of the ship and afforded all the resources it required. Her assistant was another paleomicrobiologist, Quincy Tophet (Sam Spruell), who initially had been secretly working for the Russians were using his family to caresses betrayal. This is one of the many aforementioned similarities taken from the Cold War nuclear showdown films. The Americans all the ones concerned with the safety of our planet and our species all the Soviet Union is inherently shortsighted and self-centered. They want to achieve the cure before the Americans not so that they can benefit the world but rather by ensuring the correct people, those completely loyal to their agenda, all the ones that will survive. In stark contrast to this the Americans only concerned with stopping the ever-increasing death toll and do what our nation has always done before; save the world. Almost every episode someone gives a speech inevitably containing the topic points to me: we are a warship of United States of America, we have our existing orders, and we will not waver from remaining true to our solemn vow; protect our country and its citizens, this jingoistic message is inevitably given at the point of lowest morale circumstances are at the bleakest by Cmdr. Tom Chandler (Eric Dane). He is a career Navy man who doesn’t have to know the scientific particulars of his mission. All that concerns him has always been executing his orders precisely, efficiently and completely.
Like any good Navy Captain, Cmdr. Chandler relies heavily on his XO, the executive officer and second in command. Fortunately for all Chandler has an excellent one in the person of Cmdr. Mike Slattery (Adam Baldwin). Although the military rank Cmdr. Slattery must refer to Chandler added authority as captain. Slattery is an ideal second in command, possessing in mind of his own and experience that complements that of the captain. Most of the personnel upon the ship are depicted as highly dedicated naval personnel committed to their country, Navy and their captain. Even though individual personalities are infused emotional characters effectively get away from the old archetypes that were developed back in the World War II movies. We don’t have the prankster, the ladies’ man or the kid from Brooklyn. Each is an individual but they work in unison. This is a very important point to be included in this TV series. There is very little comic relief that traditional character types are used to provide. Then mission is to quite literally save the world in a take this very seriously. Above and beyond that is quite clear that these people would be out at the same military precision regardless of what the mission happen to be.
The show runners were able to nicely integrate a look at a number of each of the many hierarchal levels that are necessary aboard a ship of war. There is Command Master Chief Petty Officer Hugh Jeter (Charles Parnell) is the highest-ranking listed man aboard the ship and by virtue of this rank expected to be in close contact with the offices. This resolves the usual deviation from actual protocol where high-ranking officers always giving direct orders to the enlisted men. Lieut. Danny Green (Travis Van Winkle) who was in charge of the onboard contingent of highly trained Marines for part of the Naval Mountain Warfare Unit. Whenever it is necessary to send people ship they are inevitably in the vanguard. Then we have the desk officer who wants action nicely modified and updated. Lieut. Kara Foster (Marissa Neitling) works in CIC, Combat Information Center, the intelligence center of the ship and crucial to providing the captain with information necessary for command. All stopping to replenish their supplies and ammunition in Guantánamo Bay, they pick up a private contractor who was stranded there, Tex (John Pyper-Ferguson). Okay, I said there were no cute, birthplace oriented nicknames but he is a civilian contractor and far from being used for levity is a crucial source of intelligence and an asset during combat situations.
The prerequisite conflict is admittedly generated in a predictable fashion. The Soviets want precursor virus for themselves that they can control which side gets the cure. Then you are certain people that they find in pockets of survivors that appear to want everyone external to their group dead. Devices have to scramble quite a bit to come up with a plot contrivances twice more group of paramilitary survivors and teacher for even a moment he ship such as the Nathan James. The ship not only has the highest technology possible but it has a disposal weapons and defense measures intended to hold off of the warships. The plot devices used to stretch credulity to some extent but generally work within the context of the premise. There are the necessary elements such as onboard relationships and disagreements and crew members concerned over what happened to loved ones back home. The jingoistic spirit of the 40s is reignited here with the classic tropes. They polarize the Americans and Soviets is diametrically opposite regarding good versus evil. No surprise, the good pole is the sole possession of the United States. Members of the Russian Navy are seen as mechanically efficient but lacking the heart that reside within every American servicemen and women. I have heard some people cite this very patriotic slant as a negative. I feel that they are missing when the major points that solidly infusing the foundation of the show. Very little rewrite, you could easily substitute a nuclear weapon for the virus. Most of the story could realistically play out 50 years ago during the height of the Cold War. One of the major points being made by this drama is that although the nature of the threat may change we now live in a world where our species is perilously close to extinction by our own hand. The tension will continue to mount thankfully TNT has given the go-ahead for season two.