What They Say:
Solace – The crew of the Nathan James makes a discovery; Chandler sees an opportunity to add another ship to the fleet; Rachel is eager to find a lab that is better equipped to replicate the vaccine.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the busy two-part opener for the season, The Last Ship worked a good transitional episode the last time around with what it dealt with. The cast has been in a state of flux in a sense as they’ve been all over the place and dealing with different things in the opener, so bringing most of them back into one place helped as did giving them a bit more focus moving forward. It also took the time to resolve the issue with Chandler and his kids in a way that works out well and reinforces the bonds he has with them but also reaffirms his mission. The show worked well to expand its mission a bit once they connected with more members of the military that are out there and still beholden to their core mission, so there’s a good sense of things coming together, but also the challenges ahead.
The cold open for this episode is grisly as we start to explore more of what’s gone on in the recent past as we see a group of sailors in a submarine from five months ago. This British sub is one that got contaminated and a couple of them have survived but have to deal with all the bodies around them. There’s not a huge amount of panic from the couple that is still alive, but there’s a good tension about it. It’s impossible to really imagine what that feeling must be like in that kind of contained situation. Contrasting that with events in the present aboard the Nathan James where things are resembling something of normalcy, we see the way the crew is working and making their way to Savannah in order to meet up with Rachel’s mentor and get that lab up and going better.
One of the main focuses that’s realized early on here is that they have a lead on where the Norfolk lab equipment may have gone. A hospital ship left the place as things started to get really bad and is now out to see. With a lab three times larger than the Nathan James, they could be a huge catalyst for helping people quickly and that gets the ship very motivated to find them. It doesn’t take too much to actually find them once they know to look, though there’s the familiar uncertainty about what they’ll find since the ship isn’t responding to hails even as it sends out the automatic greeting information required of medical ships like this. With some boarding action done before that did not go well, the tension that comes from a new mission is definitely there but well handled because of what a prize the ship actually represents.
The place definitely has a curious feeling to it as it comes across as fully operational, but no signs of anyone there, alive or dead. The place is certainly in pristine condition, but the wariness is definitely warranted in general. But the clues are there that someone is on board the ship and alive and that gets even clearer when they find one body that was recently killed, blood still flowing from it. Again, the appeal is the professionalism in what they do here in searching the ship, but also the reality of seeing a bad situation and handling it well. When they find most of those that were on board originally when it set sail lined up and executed, there’s no overreaction to it but rather a solid reassessment of what’s happening. With a couple of survivors filling in the blanks, Chandler learns quickly that the group that attacked basically went after the wrong ship.
While the belief is that they may be pirates at first, they’re quickly disabused of that notion when they start coming across the enemy – an enemy that attacked an unarmed medical ship. Since we know about the British submarine, something I wish wasn’t in the cold open, things take a quick and violent turn as they push to deal with them while protecting the survivors. There’s some interesting movements to be had with how it unfolds, particularly with the recent addition of the Israeli military woman Ravit as she’s pretty damn effective, but it’s a solid approach overall. All of this pushes those that boarded the ship to tougher action as they’re not about to tuck tail and run. Which is done with a bit of style and humor, something that’s in stark contrast to how the Navy men present themselves most of the time, even with Tex in their company.
It turns into a pretty good game of cat and mouse for a bit as Chandler is highly motivated here and we even see a bit of assistance coming from the Nathan James in a brutal form. What changes the mission though is when one of the teams discovers that there’s a bomb on board the ship that’s been setup. The proper reaction is to get off the ship and Chandler pushes that in a big way as he works to get everyone off, his crew, and the doctors to be sure. This leaves Tex and his group to try and deal with the bomb since they need the equipment and are intent on not losing it. This all also coincides with the Nathan James crew realizing that the enemy is here using a submarine and that changes their plans to deal with what’s coming for them. There’s a lot of reacting going on in a good way here that keeps it moving and interesting.
There’s some very fun stuff that goes on as it plays out on all fronts with the way the Nathan James crew do their best to achieve all their individual missions. The group dynamic is one that definitely changes amid this episode as we get the new characters of Wolf and Ravit in the mix and that definitely shakes things up a little bit since they’re not Navy men proper. Mixing them in with the regular, or semi-regulars, works well to give a more ragtag and informal crew here, especially with Tex and Miller involved in it. The Nathan James does pick up a new doctor along the way as well here as one of them is an expert in areas that will help, so the crew continues to change bit by bit, which is definitely natural and almost required for a show like this.
The Last Ship begins to expand the fleet a little bit here but mostly just ends up providing a way to beef up things back at Norfolk by sending the hospital ship there. There’s some good expansion to the world overall here, something we had a good bit of in the first season as well with the Russian ship that was after the Nathan James for a good chunk of it, and this crew of seeming mercenary types that have a British sub brings something unpredictable into the mix. I like the ragtag kind of approach that it brings to the show but also the connection that they bring into it at the end that shakes up some of what another subplot is all about. The show is moving along well here with the way it’s looking at the world in a bigger way and I’m definitely enjoying it.