Monday, January 14, 2013

Last Resort

Last Resort
Episode 11: Damn the Torpedoes
By: Carlos Uribe

Last Resort is a show about a nuclear submarine that defies the United States governments after elements of the military decided to destroy Pakistan.

Spoilers Ahoy!

The Chinese have become allies of Chaplin and they are now going to supply with him food and medicine. The obstacle is that the Chinese aren't willing to defend their supply ship with an escort and the Americans are sending a Destroyer to stop the ship. Marcus has to take command of the submarine in order to ensure that the supply ship arrives to the island. The big question becomes if Marcus is willing to fire on an American ship in order to achieve his goal. The commander of the destroyer doesn't believe that because he has read Marcus' works and attended a lecture by him. The commander believes that Marcus would never fire on an American ship because he's too by-the-book. The commander turned out to be wrong. Marcus was willing to sink the American ship in order to let the Chinese ship through. Lucky for him, Grace and King were there to ensure that one of the torpedoes would be weakened so that it could serve as a warning shot. Marcus being forced to fire a shot at the destroyer helps to show just how dedicated he is to ensuring that the island survives and it helps to create a lot of tension for the viewer. This weekly “adventure” was fine but what was happening around it was a lot more interesting.

For instance, Cortez gets instructions to kill Marcus when she reports that he has made a deal with the Chinese. The question instantly becomes if she's going to actually go through with the command or if she'll be loyal to her commanding officer. This is a big decision for her but the series made one fumble in presenting it. Cortez is a character who we've barely spent any time with and she hasn't been developed well enough for the decision to have total impact. That this was even an internal conflict for the character wasn't really explored until the end of the episode. She chose to be loyal to Marcus but there is no reason provided on why she chose him over her orders. Her attempt to explain why she became a spy was character background but I'm talking about where a character is emotionally and mentally. This plot was still great in building tension because it was a potential ticking bomb but it could have had a lot more impact if we had gotten to know what was inside Cortez' head this whole time.

Cortez might have decided to join Marcus' side but the forces on land are slowly forming against him. They are being led by the COB, whose ensuring that their plan for mutiny doesn't lead to Marcus' death. The COB's goal is simple: change the command so that he could serve his country and allow his men to go back home. Their plan is discovered by Sam who is given a choice. He can chose to go along with the plan and betray his best friend and father figure or he chose to be with Marcus. If this had been just two episodes ago, he would have easily picked Marcus. Christine's “death” has changed things for Sam as he has lost his wife. He might be telling Marcus that he doesn't blame him for her death but it's unknown if that's true. Sam agrees to join the COB's plan as long as Marcus doesn't die but it wouldn't surprise me if he was covertly going undercover. This entire plot helped build narrative momentum towards the last two episodes while making one question where Sam's loyalties currently lie. He might have really believed in Marcus but losing the one he loves has shaken him at his very core. Overall, a great plot development that complicates things.

While Sam plans the coup to overthrow Marcus, Kylie is in the middle of a coup to overthrow the President. The idea is simple: the President and Vice-President will both be arrested and the Speaker of the House will take the reigns. It's a wonderful constitutional crisis that I hope the series will actually try to explore with the last two episodes it has left. The entire plot basically has two parts: convincing the Speaker to go through with it and then actually planning it. They even seem to get the secret service to go along with their plan. There's a small part where a general freaks out about this treasonous act but he's killed by the end of the episode. Overall, it's nice to see the plot develop on the home front and I have to admit I'm a little pumped for it.

Damn the Torpedoes is a fine and thrilling episode of Last Resort. It has a great weekly adventure with a lot of tension while the Cortez plot helps to add to the sense that something could easily go terribly wrong. The series as a whole could have handled Cortez being a spy better as we could have gotten to know what she was going through but it still managed to use her to build up the adrenaline. The coups at the island and back in the United States is carrying the narrative momentum towards the final two episodes. Overall: a great way to begin the end of the series.

Other Notes:

Serat is hoping to steal the Chinese as an ally by making them aware of the rare earth minerals. Serat might think he's a genius, but he clearly didn't think this through. The Chinese don't have to negotiate with him when they can just take the island by force once Marcus is gone. Idiot.

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