Friday, August 8, 2014

The Last Ship, Season 1, Episode 7: SOS

We begin with a flashback this week – 6 months ago when the world wasn’t all destroyed and we’re in Oslo. A young scientist has just performed a radical and highly dangerous test to stop the then spreading virus – his older colleague is disturbed and upset by this. Especially since the younger man tested it on himself. The old man storms off and the young man’s wife arrives – and she’s feeling sick.

To the present and that young scientist is the scientist on Admiral Evil Russian’s ship – which has finally been repaired. He’s guiding them to where Rachel is likely to have gone.

And to the Good Guy Ship where Rachel has Ominous News about the virus – there’s a human gene added to it for reasons unknown, also it’s a clever, highly adaptive virus and all Rachel is doing is making it faster, stronger, more deadly than before!

On the ship, random drama this week is sailor Cosetti being treated like he hasn’t bathed in a month by the rest of the crew with only Miller (I think he’s the rookie guy) trying to reassure him. He apparently did something that has not impressed people (am I supposed to remember this? Because I don’t). Anyway, Mike (that’s second in command guy who is awful at everything so Captain Big Damn Hero Tom looks good) mentions it when talking to Danny who wants to get him back in the field. He also talks about Danny and Kara doing the naughty naughty fraternisation thing – Danny’s fine with being punished too but all insecure about people knowing about it.

In the communications room there are lots and lots of depressing help messages – and , in between one woman who sings, they hear a distress call. Communication guy Mason has been tracking this distress call – she was on a boat with 50 people. Then 15. Now she’s alone – which suggests she’s immune so could be interesting to study. But also risky –because finding her will be hide and radioing her will expose them to everyone – including the Evil Russian.

Of course, Big Damn Hero Tom contacts the survivor – Bertrise (I mean, he may have before, but the minute it involved taking a heroic risk was there any real doubt? Also I thought her name was Patrice, but IMBD insists on Bertrise). He pretends to be a fisherman and gets the co-ordinates from the panicking woman.

Naturally the Evil Russians hear everything while grinning with Evil Glee (Evil Russian Admiral even has a collection of minions, since they’re Russian, the writers could even call them Igor and complete their “characterisation”) .

An away team is prepared, Danny (Big Damn Hero #2) can’t go because he’s ill – Cosetti is going and he gets a great big “don’t screw up again” lecture. Guess who is also going to a boat with a risk of infection? The Captain. Of course he is. Because a Big Damn Hero must be present even though it’s ludicrous for the command structure to be put at risk all the damn time! Also, they’re not wearing beacons or any way to find them so they can stay hidden – this will cause story problems later, I am sure.

Despite this, the away team keeps reporting their position over the radio. On the boat they find a lot of dead people. While they’re looking, the Evil Russians make their Evil move of Evil. They grab Betrise and jump back in their boats (removing their masks way too quickly) to hurry back to the ship. There’s lots of shooting and for odd reasons of oddness not only do Tex and Tom end up on a boat alone, but they’re the ones who decide to provide a diversion while the others get Betrise back to the ship.

Yes, the captain is providing a diversion. What part of command structure is not clear to these people?

Naturally the Big Damn Heroes slaughter the enemy – but their boat is damaged and sinking. They end up in open water floating away and, yes, they can’t be found because Tom removed the beacons (told you). Tom contacts the ship to tell them not to rescue him because he’s a Big Damn Hero, damn it, and the mission comes first (also why captains don’t lead away missions). Tex is less infused by this embracing certain death so you can look all noble and shit (he knows who the protagonist in this show is and he has an exponentially higher chance of dying so Tom can be sad)

Angst and emotion on the ship, of course. They’re still going to try one attempt at rescue, because Mike is breaking the rules and risking the ship for Tom

Speaking of Evil Russian – he’s still keeping Quincy’s family alive, demanding they be grateful and it looks a lot like he’s raping Quincy’s wife – because lack of characterisation is being patched with gratuitous rape, of course. They heard the order not to rescue them – so realise it must be Tom who is lost in the middle of the ocean (did I mention that it’s a bad idea to send captains on away missions?). They send a drone. Which the Americans shoot down. Evil Russian has an “aha now I can make dastardly plans!” moment

So brief cameo of Bertrise and Rachel doing science, with Bertrise describing  how she lost everyone to the disease – and Rachel confirms that Betrise (I’m still sure she’s saying Patrice – IMBD may be wrong on this one) is immune. Then back to Tom and Tex so Tom can remind us all that he’s a BIG DAMN HERO. On the ship Cosetti has a case of the guilts and Danny talks to him.

Mike also drags Quincy out of his cell to translate the Russian radio communication (because I’d totally trust him to do that, honest). Quincy’s happy to do it if they’ll kill Evil Russian. He hears the Russians say they think Tom drowned. Mike decides to keep looking anyway.

Tom is found and “rescued”… but the Russians.

This is why you don’t send your captain out on risky missions. I may have mentioned that once or twice.

The Last Ship has a problem (actually several, starting with Michael Bay, running through some not great acting, terrible writing, complete lack of storyline, lots of under developed characters and, of course, Michael Bay). The problem is that it’s hard to make “and this week, Rachel worked on the virus some more” all that compelling. How does one make the grunt work of scientific research a compelling storyline?

By throwing randomness in – but that could work if the randomness had actually been worked on. But it hasn’t – random events and bad guys are just thrown in without any real thought going into their characterisation, motives or natures. It’s why so many of them are cartoonish villains, offensively portraying America’s “usual suspect” list – from Central American drug lords to evil Russians to Arab terrorists. Simple, basic, non-characters with non-motives beyond EVIL. That’s all they’re there for – with an added reliance on rape as evil-coding.

I honestly think someone sat down with the concept adaptation and then after going ahead and writing three episodes they all looked at each other and went “oh shit, we have no more plot!? THROW IN SOME RUSSIANS!”

And this has been renewed for a second series – I have no idea how it can be further stretched out.