The Last Ship - Commitment - Review - We Have the Watch By TVAdora (November 14, 2018, 3:30 pm)
The Last Ship
Everything about him was old except his eyes
and they were the same color as the sea
and were cheerful and undefeated.
-Ernest Hemingway, "The Old Man and the Sea"
Heaven (and all of you who have read my reviews) knows there have been things I've wished were different about this season. This finale though! As the hour drew to a close, after almost wall-to-wall action, the show took a breath to inhale a sob. And darn it if I didn't choke on the subsequent lump in my throat. It was a fitting conclusion.
The first 15 minutes focus primarily on the Battle for Red Beach. Danny writes "Burk" on his helmet before they storm the shore, literally hitting the dirt and opening fire on the enemy encampment. The Nathan James helps by firing from afar, but they have to hold off when their own people get too close. It's a vivid, well-directed sequence. This is indeed war. Flying sand and smoke. An injured man horrifically crushed under a vehicle. Flashes of bloody wounds. Men and women dying left and right. A reporter undermining everything they are doing by asking if they should retreat. The helo crew brings some much-needed backup, only to be shot down. (Stinger was killed before they crashed into the ocean.) It's do or die. And Sasha leads the charge up the hill, because they will take it dammmit! And yes they do. Bridget Regan, by the way, is a blazing fury in this episode, and it's glorious. (We briefly check in with Tavo and his smugging wife. They aren't going to be retreating anytime soon. Because he has to have his big meeting with Chandler. OH WAIT...is that reporter the same reporter who interviewed Tavos like a hundred episodes ago?! Just made that connection. Not that I'm giving any brownie points back to the show just because I remembered the random character was actually an earlier random character. Journalists, y'all deserve better representation maybe.)
Meanwhile, the Nathan James is doing what she does best: outwitting and outmaneuvering an enemy ship. Only the Red Dot/Red Spot Battleship comes sneaking up behind them while they're distracted. AND BLOWS A MASSIVE HOLE IN THEIR SIDE. This is suitably dramatic, shocking, and upsetting. As we already knew, Chandler wasn't imagining it. Moby Dick is back to finish what he started.
Everyone else storms Tavo's compound, even Wolf whose side is bleeding a bit much and Azima who was shot in the foot. (The couple who fight battles bullet-riddled...) As they separate to search the house, which is both narrow and endless all at once, Wolf is attacked by several assailants. The Last Ship gives Bren Foster one last chance to break out every fighting bone in his body. This hallway fight is elegant yet really severely brutal. Wolf is shot, stabbed, shot again, and stabbed again! You better believe he doesn't sink down until after his last opponent is dead though. Sasha finds Tavo's wife and son. (I will never not be annoyed with Mrs. Card Trick, and seeing her cower behind her child would be a last straw, if I cared about her one bit.) Sasha gently takes the gun Tavo's son is pointing at her and asks where Tavo is. Mrs. Barros naturally pleads for her husband's life. Sasha doesn't dignify that with a response.
There's poetic justice in Tavo realizing in his last moments that his big nemesis Tom Chandler couldn't be bothered with him. It's revolting that he tells Sasha and Danny he wants to surrender to Tom "soldier to soldier." Tavo was no soldier. A man utterly without honor. A murderer of women and children. When he goes for his gun, one of them shoots him. Or maybe both of them. It doesn't really matter. Tavo never mattered. And maybe that was a shortcoming of this season. Or maybe it was a strength, acknowledging that sometimes villainy is just the product of insignificant, evil people.
Sasha calls the Nathan James to give them the good news. There's no answer. Badly hurt by the surprise attack, the Nathan James has lost her weapons systems and her communications. She is burning up. Gator tells Kara that the ship is sinking. "We can no longer fight." Slattery and Chandler exchange a devastated glance that hit me right in the center of my heart. It's Kara's face we zoom in on, as she looks down then up, acceptance on her face. "It's time to call it," Slattery says. Kara raises the call to abandon ship. Even worse, they have to trash her on the way out, making sure to destroy any equipment or classified information left on board. They also have no way to recover the 17 people who died when the ship was struck.
Out in the small boats, it doesn't take Slattery long to realize that Chandler is missing. Of course Tom would stay behind! The enemy battleship is a huge threat to the survivors and to the USS Jeffrey Michener, which is nearby. Nathan James's last act will again be one of heroism, saving innocent lives. He briefly remembers a conversation he had with Sasha before she left to attack Red Beach. In it, after sharing how she once dreamed about them sailing around a world where everyone was happy, Sasha said she woke up and thought how lucky they were. "We have each other. " He sets the ship on her final course, straight towards the enemy battleship at full speed, and leaves the bridge for the last time. The others watch as Nathan James rams the other ship, followed by a massive explosion. (I believe Chandler also somehow activated/exposed the munitions left on Nathan James to maximize the impact.)
Chandler "wakes up" in his cabin and walks through the Nathan James one last time. At first he's following Rachel Scott, but he also passes others who died, such as Frankie. He also encounters the living. Miller appears in reused footage from the premiere holding the cardboard cutout of Chandler. Then Chandler finds himself at the crew lounge door. Sasha, Jeter, and Slattery are there holding the door, begging him to help them keep it shut. But he walks past them and goes in. Tex is there! He welcomes him to Davey Jones's locker, with a game of poker (with the vials of cure as the stakes) set up. Chandler comments that luck was all he ever had. Tex disagrees, ushering in another sequence where President Michener commends him for being "a hero, a father, and a fighter." To which Chandler responds, "That's not me." But Tex tells him to just accept who he is and the role he played, even though he didn't ask for it. In the vision, President Michener asks Chandler if he's ready to be relieved of his command.
"Who am I passing off command to?" He looks out at the audience. Alisha stands up. Garnett stands up. Doc Rios too. And Burk. Meylan. And many others. "We have the watch." It was very moving.
Chandler wakes up in the ocean, watching the Nathan James slip away to her resting place. He swims toward his daughter's voice, toward the light, towards peace. Slattery and the others spot him. Their smiles and Chandler's peaceful face are the last moments of The Last Ship.
Although an actual epilogue wasn't filmed, and I would have especially liked to see what Slattery did next, there are a number of small moments that hint at the fates of beloved characters. Danny and Kara's reunion is a certainty. The scenes with them in the park with Frankie earlier in the season set up a successful transition to civilian life for Danny. In this finale, he was almost serene in combat. And Kara's whispered "Good luck" towards shore at the beginning of the episode left little doubt where her heart lay. Steven Kane confirmed that Wolf lives, and I especially liked how Bren Foster put it...that the last we see of Wolf was him holding very tightly to Azima's hand before being loaded into the truck. They've got plans for sure. Was there more I wanted from the final season? Yes, for sure. But this finale episode was in itself more satisfying than not.
Thanks for reading these reviews. You can be sure you'll hear on SpoilerTV where this amazing cast ends up next. Jocko Sims is starring on New Amsterdam (and he did an interview with us about the Last Ship finale as well). Eric Dane is filming a pilot for HBO. Travis Van Winkle will be joining Instinct season 2 this spring. Charles Parnell is in the upcoming Top Gun sequel. And Jodie Turner-Smith has a new TV show Nightflyers coming this December. More to come.