Episode 13: Controlled Flight Into Terrain
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.
The writers had an impossible task when it came to this episode. They had to turn an episode that was meant as the half-way point within the first season of the show into a series finale. This meant they had to wrap up as many plots as they could while delivering emotional closure to the fans. They had to do this within one hour. This task becomes more complicated when you consider just how many plot threads the show was juggling at the end and that most shows that get a finale have at least a few episodes to build into it. Adapting this episode into a satisfactory conclusion would be a challenge for any talented writer. That they managed to most succeed at this task is a feat in-itself. This might not have been the perfect series finale or the one they were planning. It might have jumped between some plot points but it did wrap up the narrative in a masterful manner. That the finale managed to end on a pretty strong note to provide the emotional closure is a sign of great skill. To conclude it all, this episode might have gone through half a season's worth of television into one hour but it managed to condense it into an entertaining thrill ride. It would have been nice if the series had been able to survive for at least a few seasons but at least the ending we did get was a pretty satisfactory one. What's great is what providing such a great ending to the series does. It turns it into a season of television that will provide no closure and give people pause before tuning in into a mini-series that any fan of television should watch. It turned the series into a naval story of how the officers refused an order into a gripping tale of the fascinating Marcus Chaplin. It turned Last Resort from a great short-lived show into a television classic.
It's impressive how almost all the plots on the island managed to come together. When it's revealed that Anders didn't steal the submarine for fun but to give it to the Chinese, the whole situation becomes clearer. Serrat allies with the Chinese envoy in order to exploit the island but he helps capture the communications outpost on the island. Anders is able to turn the COB's mutiny into his own advantage. Allowing the Chinese envoy to be the master puppet allowed the show to take multiple plot threads and merge them into one almost seamlessly. It makes perfect sense now why he's helping Marcus as he was playing a long con game into getting the sub. The island plot becomes not just in ways to undermine the Chinese envoy at the communications station but also in defeating Anders at the submarine. It basically allows all the characters who had been turned against each other by the situation to come together to take down one bad guy. Having a bad guy to take down such as Anders allowed the show to clarify the line between good and bad. A line that became necessary so that the series could basically wrap up the plots. It's to stop Anders' plan that Sam is able to get the air force to perform a strike on the submarine rather than allow it fall in enemy hands. The submarine's destruction removes any leverage that the naval officers had and it forces their return home. Which is perfectly fine because the bad administration had been taken down by this point. The one who doesn't go is Marcus. He ensures that his submarine is destroyed by being in it. The finale ends with Sam talking about what kind of man Marcus is while he's being blown up. The last shot we see is a chuck of the submarine falling into the bottom of the ocean. The speech is amazing as it helps to finish the series by trying to explain what kind of man Marcus was.
The island is wrapped up pretty magnificently but sadly the other plots aren't. Let's talk about Kylie. She spends the whole episode when she's given a conundrum. She has to kill her boyfriend to get into the inner circle. She doesn't want to do this for obvious reasons but her boyfriend encourages her to go through with it. He wants to die as a martyr so that Kylie can get close and bring them down from the inside. He does end up dying and Kylie is able to close the episode by shooting the president. We have no idea what happens to her after that (probably killed by secret service) but she does allow Christine to revel the truth about Pakistan to a group of reporters. So what's the problem with Kylie's story? As interesting as it might have been, it was moving far slower compared to the rest of the episode and it actually felt like it was stalling at a few points. Considering how fast everything else was moving and how much ground the finale had to cover, it's a bit surprising how slowly this plot moved. It simply feels like if the show had trimmed a few of the scenes in her plot then it could have been a bit more slick without actually taking out plot points. Making them a bit shorter would have allowed the show to cover a bit more in regards to the other stories.
So what is the ending we got for our characters besides Marcus and Kylie? Tani and King are able to reunite in this episode when she stops James from killing the Chinese envoy. Her reunion with him is sudden and a bit forced. Sophie doesn't get together with anyone as she's forced to end the show merely looking at a television image of Sam. It's a bit sad and it makes sense for the character. Sam does reunite with Christine when she's rescued by Hooper. Christine's rescue doesn't make a lot of sense and it's not really explained how it happens as the show had to rush through it. Grace doesn't really get an ending but she seems to have earned the COB's respect, which is basically what she sought in the pilot. The only ending I have a problem with is Tani and King because of how forced their relationship has been from the very beginning but the other ones are fine. Christine's rescue might have been rushed but her reunion with Sam still felt emotionally satisfying. The only wish I had was if Grace and the COB could have been shown drinking together at the end-at least they would have fit into the ending montage then.
Controlled Flight Into Terrain proved one thing: Last Resort was a thrill ride. There may have been some points where the ride hit a few bumps but it was mostly exhilarating to watch. I have a feeling that watching the series in a marathon would be a lot of fun especially as it gets closer to the ending. While the show could have certainly used at least one more hour (if not a few seasons), it was great to see almost everything actually be wrapped up.