Ah, ABC’s Last Resort we meet again, but not really, since this is the series premiere. Maybe I should introduce myself to you. I’ve done recaps of Jersey Shore, Friday Night Lights, and Ringer. So clearly I’m totally qualified to write about this military-themed drama. Mostly I just like Andre Braugher a whole bunch. You’ll solve that Adena Watson case yet, Pembleton!
Submarine drama Last Resort begins not with a submarine, but with Navy Seals zipping around the ocean on a small boat, tending to a wounded Seal after a mission gone wrong or gone right (it’s not clear yet). By the way, I know almost nothing of military terminology or rank, so I’m going to be using a lot of “his boss” and “that boat” in these recaps. I apologize in advance, and I remind you in advance: not real military people, just a fictional TV show. They’re calling for “Hospitality” and hospitality arrives in the form of the USS Colorado, a ginormous submarine run by Captain Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher) and XO Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman). As I said, big Andre Braugher fan, and I’m a Speedman novice (having never seen Felicity or the Underworld movies), but I am pleased to learn that XO is not just a delicious sauce or a way for me to kiss and hug someone via a card, it’s also Executive Officer (second in command) of a submarine. See, I’m already learning (when I pause the show on Hulu and use the internet to find out what XO means).
This isn’t the best place to get these Seals, though, because they’re in a heavily trafficked area in an unstable corner of the globe. Marcus asks Lieutenant Grace Shepard (sort of a T.V. Anne Hathaway) for three good ways out of there; I hope they all involve the ocean, because I think that’s gonna be their best bet. In the sick bay, the Navy Seals are tending to their own, and then … OH MY GOD, IT’S THE T-1000! This sub is doomed! Check that, it’s just Robert Patrick playing Master Chief Joseph Prosser. By the way, ABC.com calls him, and I’m not kidding, “the rusty nail that holds the boat together.” What a terrible boat that would be. He warns Marcus and Sam about the Seals, saying that they’re wound up tight. Gil Langston, the leader of the Seals, thanks Marcus for the pickup but he’s super cagey about what he and his men were doing. The hurt guy needs a hospital, that’s the long and the short of it; oh, and also the USS Colorado is on its way to test out a new piece of equipment. I don’t know why I’m telling you that; I’m sure it won’t come up later. Gil asks the most handsome member of his crew what the hell happened out there. A handsome glower is the only response.
Moving on, Sam asks Cortez and Reynolds, two female officers, if anybody’s made untoward advances, um, toward them. They both say no, but Cortez does it in a much more street-smart way. Cortez has clearly been brought in from a James Cameron film. Let me take a second to note: We are less than 3 minutes in and we’ve already met about eight characters. I admire efficiency, but give me a little room to breathe here.
But no time for breath, because Sam has to talk to Brandon and Jones. One does bad beat-boxing and one’s from Arizona; that’s about all I’ve got on them. Next on our “meet the sub” parade, Petty Officers Expo and Sition who tell us that Grace is the daughter of an admiral and she might be getting special treatment even though she totally shouldn’t because she’s a girl and stuff and they have cooties. Okay, their real names are Lawrence and Stern, and they’re gonna get in trouble for this big time. Probably a time out.
In Marcus’ cabin, Marcus and Sam give us a big batch of backstory. Here’s what we learn:
1. Marcus has a son named Jeffrey who is a soldier in the Middle East.
2. The TV news tells us that the president is under fire and he will soon be impeached because a bunch of generals quit. Or something.
3. Marcus advocates a foreign policy where the president is thought to be crazy. Michele Bachmann 2016!
4. Sam keeps a picture of his wife in his pocket. It’s an odd picture, because it looks like he ripped a photo down the middle and kept her half.
5. Marcus got Sam set up with a desk job in D.C. so he can be closer to his better half(-face).
Old Rusty Nail Joseph tells Grace that Lawrence and Stern (as opposed to Tristram Shandy writer Laurence Sterne) are going to get a week’s latrine duty for their dumb comments. Grace shows she’s a hardass by saying they’re getting two weeks and call her Lieutenant Shepard! (She’s saying it to Joseph, so I’m going to keep calling everybody by their first names.) And then: levity! Kinda! The submarine crosses the equator and this causes La Bamba to be played and everyone to dance to it. Because when you cross the equator it’s 1986 and, also, embarrassing.
But hold on, Lou Diamond Phillips movie, there’s important military submarine junk to do. Good, less Grey’s Anatomy, more Crimson Tide. There’s a missile fire order, but it’s coming from the Antarctic network. Nobody watches that anymore! The fact that it comes through this network means that someone’s taken out D.C. command. Unless somebody’s lying! They check TV, and why not, it was super helpful before. Hannah Montana’s on TV? Truly this is the end of days! Oh wait, this means things might be okay. Marcus calls up command to confirm this, and Andre Braugher kicks all kinds of ass just using a sub phone telling whoever’s on the line to send this order through the proper channels or else no dice.
Meanwhile in D.C., Lady Exposition (the cousin of those two petty officers we saw before) tries to seduce a guy by talking about all the amenities of the USS Colorado, the sub on which La Bamba is the height of hip, exciting music. Well, her dress is seducing the guy; the explanation just seems to be getting in the way. They kiss and I hope it’s over except OHMYGODSHE’S STILLTALKING! Wait, she’s some kind of military contractor who’s trying to seduce a senator’s aide. I think that’s what I’m supposed to get from this. Anyway, she gets a weird message and then she leaves which is the best part of the scene.
Marcus gets a call from the deputy secretary of defense who relieves Marcus of his duty as commander of the sub. Command now goes to Sam and he orders Grace to take the firing key. The Navy Seals bust in and start pulling guns because Sam won’t go through with the order. A missile comes in and hits the sub. Prediction: that missile was fired by the US to spur them to fire their nuclear weapons. Then all hell breaks loose and shit starts blowing up real good on the sub and the Colorado sinks to the bottom of the ocean. I blame Los Lobos.
Water is filling up the sick bay where that Seal they saved (his name might be Hopper) is in critical condition. Something from a pipe hits Langston in the face and kills him. So far the Seals on this show have proven to be mean guys with guns and incompetent guys who are close to drowning. I guess the free ride for the Seals after killing Bin Laden is over. (Fictional show, folks. Not really criticizing any branch of the military.) Half-face picture floats away
never probably to be seen again.
Meanwhile in Hawaii dressed up to look like something else there’s a NATO base which is noting that an American Tomahawk missile is the one that was shot. Boom: called it! Julian (the crime boss of NotHawaii) brings Sophie (attractive, accented woman at NATO) fake Nutella for her birthday. Also, there’s a silent, attractive bar owner (female) and another NATO worker (male). Good, we didn’t have enough characters before.
Back underwater, the sub is damaged and there are some casualties. Marcus is a little sulky because he’s been relieved of his captainship, but he’s still awesome, because he’s played by Andre Braugher. Twelve people have been lost, which is sad, but it is twelve people whose names I don’t have to learn, which is nice. We learn that the Illinois shot at the Colorado, which may be a metaphor for war between time zones. Rusty is angry that they’re not surrendering but he’s still following Sam’s orders. Marcus comes back and he’s figured stuff out (though it’s not clear how) so Sam reinstates Marcus as the captain. Marcus has a plan on where they can take the sub.
Back in D.C., Sam’s wife (old-half face) gets a visit from military authorities. In a government building, the news is noting that the missile was fired by a Pakistani warship. Oh, fictional news, you’re just as easily misled as the actual news. Who busts in to talk to Admiral Shepard (Lt. Shepard’s dad, and yet another new character)? Why it’s Kylie Sinclair from Sinclair Dynotronics (a company name that isn’t at all clunky). Who’s Kylie Sinclair? She’s our chatty Kathy from the seduxposition scene before. They had a prototype on the Colorado. She basically recaps the entire first half of the episode (quit trying to steal my job, Sinclair!) and calls the Admiral a son-of-a-bitch, but then realizes the Admiral didn’t know about his daughter being on the sub. My cat just walked by and made a face at Kylie. Word, Daisy. Couldn’t agree more.
Sam flashes back to his time with Christine (you know, old half-picture), when she tried to convince him not to leave her for four months to be on a submarine. No dice, Halfsie. In the present, we learn that Grace thanks Sam for not making her murder a lot of Pakistanis. Back at the NATO base on NotHawaii (which I’m now learning is called St. Marina), we learn that somebody’s firing nuclear missiles at Pakistan.
Let me take a moment and say that I’m a little weirded out by the use of actual Pakistan as part of this show. This may have been a time to bring in a Freedonia or some other fictional country when we’re talking about an actual nation with which we’re not always super friendly. Plus there’s a whole bunch of people on this show who have no issues with nuking it. That’s … troubling. From now on, I’ll be calling Pakistan on this show Freedonia just in case some people get confused between reality and fiction, which is not a completely crazy thing to happen in the world today.
Anyway, the Colorado surfaces right in the lagoon off of disguised Hawaii. The Seals have made it to the island and they’re scaring natives and looking for a hospital. Then they’re paying off locals to hide a body. This is a really positive view of the Seals. The crew of the Colorado storms the NATO station and Sophie says, get out of here, guys, this place belongs to NATO. Marcus gets the hero’s entrance and says, bullshit, I’m Andre Braugher and this place belongs to me.
Back in D.C., Marcus calls the Admiral and he gets to talk to his daughter. She assures him that they’ve done the honorable thing. Marcus gets on and tells the Admiral that they were shot at by Americans not Freedonians. The Admiral’s freaked out because we’re now at war with Freedonia, but he can’t talk anymore because some big time military guys go into his office and hangs up his phone. So rude.
On the Isle of Braugher, Julian goes to talk with the handsome Navy Seal (whose name, the internet is telling me, is James King). They basically have a pissing contest and James wins because he explains how he’s going to kill everybody in a really flowery way. Let’s add creepy killer to the Navy Seal attributes here. Sam calls Christine while the military is there watching over his home. Long scene short: they love each other. Their phone call is cut-off (this seems to be happening a lot) when the power goes out. In the investigation, Expo is found talking on the phone and Sition pulls a gun on Sam. They’re ratting everybody out. And then Sition is down, shot by Grace. Rusty Nail is furious. But no sooner had they set up camp in the NATO office when they find out two B-1 bombers are coming after them. So it’s back to the sub. Will they use the sub to escape? Nope, because Cortez and (I think) Brennan are missing. Marcus says it’s time to change the game, and he and Sam fire a missile at D.C.
Wait a second, they’re firing a missile at the U.S.? That’s the game change?? So our heroes are basically terrorists who are rebelling against a U.S. government that shoots missiles at its own fleet to start a war against Freedonia? Can I officially root for Switzerland at this point in the show?
Marcus gives a speech about how all of them are going to die when these bombers kill them, and it’s a good speech, if you ignore how crazy the plot has become. But wait, the bombers have disengaged, so everybody’s safe. Phew! Now, of course, Marcus will call off the missile. Except he’s totally not doing that. He blows up the missile 200 miles east of Washington. He assures us nobody will be hurt. Yes, it’s not as if there’s anything living in the sea or any ocean traffic in the Atlantic that might be affected.
Marcus, on a TV camera, recaps the episode (I guess it’s okay if you do it, Braugher), while we do some big time montaging. We see Rusty Nail getting verbally slapped by Grace; the hurt Navy Seal saying something about the wrong target, thus ensuring future mysteries for the show; the Admiral coming to, UGH, Kylie Sinclair’s apartment; the two missing crew members being kidnapped by Julian; and, finally, the handsome Navy Seal crying and saying, “What did I do,” after watching bad things in Freedonia on TV. At last, a non-horrible character attribute for the Seals.’
At the end of the speech (where Marcus basically threatens nuclear holocaust if anybody messes with them), everything wraps up with a tidy bow when we see that Marcus is using the foreign policy posture he advocated previously. Great. Just great. And now Marcus is talking about starting from scratch because something happened to the America in which he grew up and it’s not the same anymore.
So what began as a story about two military officers who saw something fishy and decided to be careful before they killed a lot of people has now become a tale about a guy with a bunch of weapons who wants to start a new society that’s like an old society which probably didn’t exist in the first place?
Anyway, that’s your pilot for Last Resort. What did we learn? Well, Andre Braugher’s still awesome, there are way too many characters, and there are a bunch of Lost-ish loose ends we have to wrap up (what were those Seals doing, who authorized an attack on Pakistan, what kind of experimental technology is on the sub). Oh, and Marcus gave the half picture back to Sam. But you knew that was going to happen, didn’t you?
Tell me what you thought about Last Resort below. Lieutenant, you have the Com(ment).