I think this episode would have been better titled, "A Game of Chickens and Three Captains", because it essentially encapsulates the episode far more than Tempest does. When we last left the Nathan James, they had taken on some refuges, unaware that a member of her majesty's navy was aboard for the ride. Fletcher was given the choice of country or the friendships he had made aboard the Nathan James. And Mike, was dealing with feelings for loss once again.
There are actually three captains onboard the Nathan James right now but since the men are giving each other latitude, this means that it's working for now. Poor Meylan is supposedly in an XO position, Mike continues to be the captain and Chandler, while maintaining the rank of captain, is functioning more like an adviser. Yes, this means that Tom still gets to give orders to those of lower rank but he doesn't speak over Slattery or contradict his orders. This works out well when both Mike and Tom decide that the best way to ditch the Greek naval ships which are surrounding the James and threatening to herd it into position is to steer the ship into a storm. Cue triumphant American patriotic music.
Okay, The Nathan James is sailing into a massive storm and now Fletcher has to decide where his loyalties lie. Sinclair fakes a heart attack and is taken to medical which is conveniently where the seeds are being stored. The resident doc checks out Sinclair and decides that he's had a panic attack because he can see no cardiac symptoms. Sinclair waits until the doctor's back is turned before killing him and taking off with the seeds.
Having placed a call earlier to allow the Greek ships to be able to track the Nathan James, Fletcher is running against to the clock to do his part in ensuring that the seeds make it safely off of the ship. Unfortunately for Fletcher, his cover is burned when a crewperson in communications recognises the number he called. It's a short leap from there for the crew to realise that Fletcher is the snitch/traitor. Tom pulls the alarm and the crew gets armed, determined to stop Fletcher and Sinclair's escape. The situation becomes urgent when Tom finds several bodies in sick bay and of course, no seeds.
Unfortunately for O'Connor, who is outside doing some work to stop the engine from going kaput, he doesn't hear the alarm which alerted everyone else to take action and pay attention. When O'Connor comes across Sinclair, he thinks that Sinclair is a refugee who got panicked by the storm and fled. Sinclair attacks and ends up stabbing O'Connor in the neck. Tom heads outside and when he spies Sinclair, Tom shoots him. An injured O'Connor falls to the ground, as Sinclair takes off. Tom rushes to O'Connor's side but isn't able to save him.
Sinclair, having put some distance between himself and Tom, isn't in any kind of shape to leap off the Nathan James, into a massive storm. Fortunately for Sinclair, this is when Fletcher arrives. Sinclair hands the seeds to Fletcher, telling Fletcher that the future of the world is now in his hands. Fletcher hesitates but he takes the seeds and heads towards the stern. This of course is when Sasha makes her way outside. Fletcher and Sasha make eye contact before he disappears.
The next day, helicopters do a grid search to see if they can find any sign of Fletcher but they come up empty. Coming up empty in the search, the leadership of the crew get together to discuss events. They spend a few moments discussing the five crew members which were lost in Fletcher's escape. Tom is absolutely certain that Fletcher is still alive, though he has no proof of this assertion. You just know he is going to go all Ahab over this one. With everything on the line, it's time for the ship to go balls to the wall and hunt down Fletcher. Slattery declares the meeting over and everyone heads out with the exception of Sasha and Tom. Sasha declares that Fletcher could not have fooled them all of this time and that he was with them until the Nathan James picked up the group of food refugees. Sasha's feelings are clearly hurt because she cared about Fletcher but she is also wary about her ability to correctly judge someone and their intentions.
Giorgio contacts his sister to let her know that he is in possession of the seeds before heading above deck to congratulate a shivering Fletcher on a mission well done. Fletcher looks half drowned and doesn't exactly look pleased to be in the company of Giorgio. Given that the Nathan James lost five people, at this point, Fletcher is now officially team bad guy and nothing he does will allow him to be redeemed.
I'm tempted to say that the rest of the episodes will be dedicated to hunting down the seeds but given that The Last Ship has a penchant for creating a huge problem and then rushing to an easy conclusion in the very next episode, there's no way to say exactly where the writers are headed with this latest bump in the road. The only thing we can say for sure is that Tom claimed he left the service because he could no longer tell the difference between justice and revenge and so Fletcher's deflection is going to cause Tom to have to test his own personal moral code once again. It's clear that this is what the writers want us to think about; however, I see it as a false equivalency because there was much more at stake last season.
Right now, Tom is acting as an adviser but you know damn well that when shit gets real, this partnership thing that he has going with Mike is going to end. At the end of the day, no matter how friendly Mike, Slattery and Meylan are, there can only be one captain of the ship. This absolutely means that Meylan won't be given a chance because everyone knows that in American military propaganda, only a white, straight, cisgender able bodied male can lead. I suppose I should be thankful that they gave Meylan the appearance of power. Meylan has been sidelined, Jeter has been injured and is coughing up blood and O'Connor has been killed. It doesn't look good for team black people right now.
The upside to Fletcher becoming a turn coat is that it is going to spare us the love triangle between Tom, Fletcher and Sasha. A love triangle is the last thing this show needs and with Fletcher going rogue, The Last Ship falls comfortably into a genre niche of all British people being villains. There's also the issue of Tom's long forgotten girlfriend, who he has saddled with his children but given that The Last Ship wants to pretend that they don't exist, I suppose they don't matter.
We only have four episodes left to go. Despite the big at sea battle this week, I'm finding this season decidedly underwhelming. At this point, I watch The Last Ship as though it were a comedy because the swerves in the plot line are ridiculous and the acting is even worse. At least I can comfortably laugh at this horror.