The Last Ship Season 1 Review “Trials”

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On the penultimate episode of “The Last Ship,” it was time for Dr. Scott to put her vaccine where her mouth was- but would it work? Or would anyone be willing to volunteer for such a thing? After all, those monkeys didn’t exactly fare too well. Factor in the not-exactly thrilling side effects of the virus and the fact that the vaccine had never been tested on humans before, and it wasn’t exactly the greatest prospect in the world- even given the world’s current state at the moment. Would anyone step up to be a guinea pig, given all of that?

Well, one of the Navy’s unofficial mottos is “So others may live”- not to mention “Not for self, but country”- so yeah, of course they did, including Master Chief Jeter (Charles Parnell),
Lt. Kara Foster (Marissa Neitling), Andrea Garnett (Fay Masterson) and three others: six brave souls in all who met Dr. Scott’s specific criteria. Many more turned up besides, naturally.

The plan: inject the six with the vaccine, then the virus, and see what happens. Dr. Tophet was convinced it was way too soon and it would be a miracle if any of them survived, while Dr. Scott felt the prospects were slightly more positive. At first, it seemed that Dr. Tophet was in the right, as everyone went from bad to worse in pretty quick time, and even Dr. Scott lost her cool, which is tough to do if you’re British. Next thing you know Dr. Tophet is taking the wheel, and drafting Bertrise into things, using her blood in hopes of it helping them in the more immediate sense, before it was too late.

Alas, that proved to be the case with one volunteer, Maya (Felisha Cooper), who met her untimely end. Fortunately, it occurred to Dr. Scott that the virus had mutated since the original strain, and what’s more it might react different with the monkey test subject because, you know, it’s a monkey, not a human. She had the bright idea to Trojan Horse the vaccine within a decoy into the volunteers’ systems so that it wouldn’t attack it- apparently the virus was attacking the vaccine in its normal form because it was a foreign substance or something along that lines, so Scott needed to do something to sneak it past.

I may or may not be massacring that explanation, not being a hot British scientist. (Oh, that I were, LOL.) If so, my bad! Just be glad I’m not in charge of vaccines during the end times, and rest easier, fact-checkers! Whatever the case, it worked, and the rest of the volunteers pulled through, which especially made Lt. Green relieved, as he discovered that, after testing had already started, that Foster was carrying his child- as did she, after the healing process had begun in earnest. Bonus points: the baby would be born immune, as well.

Though a more low key episode than most, this definitely worked, mostly because so much was riding on it working, which lent a sort of quiet intensity to the proceedings than you might have gotten otherwise. The volunteers were all fairly well chosen for maximum effect: you had the most overtly charming wise-cracker (Tex), the valiant (Jeter, who did it so that Chandler- who tried to volunteer, but of course- wouldn’t, especially after one too many potentially deadly excursions over the last few weeks), the twist (Foster turning out pregnant), the tragic (Maya) and so on.

We might know some of them better than others, but it was still a fairly powerful episode with some genuinely emotional moments, i.e. everyone saying goodbye to their friends when things looked really dire; Green discovering he was a father, just as he found out he was about to potentially lose the child moments later; Bertrise volunteering to potentially give up her life in exchange for saving the test subjects. All in all, fairly riveting stuff.

We also got a rare glimpse at what was going on in the States, via Chandler’s wife and kids, who were still alive and kicking and staying with his father in a cabin in the woods. Indeed, for a hot minute, the show turned into “The Walking Dead,” complete with roving marauders going around clearing out various places of the infected (which they then marked with an ‘X’) and looting the buildings they came to for stuff, while Chandler’s wife kept her head down, lest she get kidnapped or worse.

There were also references on the radio to “Olympia,” a place of refuge that sounded awfully like a “Terminus”-type scam. In just these few short scenes, you definitely got the sense of how sideways things had gotten in the wake of the virus. In short, it was the closest real-life equivalent of an actual zombie apocalypse that one could actually see happening. From the looks of next week’s season finale, which finds the crew going ashore, things are going to get worse before they get better.

The good news is, if you’re a fan of the show, it’s officially been renewed, so if the adapted book had a more fixed ending than the one they are headed towards next week, there’s still a whole new season to get through to deal with it. Of course, that’s assuming they’re even following the gist of the book, which is not necessarily a safe assumption- see also “Under the Dome” (which does not use the book’s explanation for the general scenario) or the aforementioned “Walking Dead,” which goes off-comic all the time, also for better or for worse, depending on what they’re changing.

I think they could easily get another season out of it, though perhaps a post-apocalyptic on-the-road situation would be tough to avoid, a la “Falling Skies” and about a billion other shows and movies right now. That would definitely make for a very different show, as the titular ship would no longer be the main focus anymore, making the title a bit of a misnomer for the second season. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it would be a bad show, either, depending on how they approach it. It could easily go either way. We’ll just have to wait on see on that front.

For the time being, though, I’ve legitimately enjoyed the show thus far, and I wasn’t 100% sure I would, having mixed feelings about the Michael Bay connection. Granted, he’s only a producer, which doesn’t necessarily mean he’s that involved with things, but there were definitely times you could tell his fingerprints were on things, particularly earlier on, when the show was a bit more explosion-happy.

But the nifty premise that interested me in the first place emerged victorious overall, and the show ended up being surprisingly engaging, and solidly entertaining. In short, a really decent summer show, which is about all you can ask for, the occasional smart summer show notwithstanding (i.e. “Masters of Sex” and “Halt and Catch Fire”). Not too shabby, TNT.

What did you think of “The Last Ship”? Are you liking the new direction the show is headed in? Will you be back for a second season, even if the ship isn’t as big a factor as it was in the first season? If that proves to be the case, what should the show do to separate itself from the apocalyptic pack? Will Chandler catch up to his family in time to save them, or will the looters get there first? Did his wife catch the virus while out and about? Let me know what you think down below and see you for the big finale!