Last Resort, Season 1, Episode 3: “Eight Bells”
Written by Eileen Myers
Directed by Michael Offer
Airs Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on ABC
In the midst of the USS Colorado’s conflict with both American and foreign forces, as well as Chaplin and Kendal’s own attempts to maintain order among the crew of the submarine, they can perhaps be forgiven for overlooking the fact that they have taken control of an island that was already occupied by a thriving local population with an established unofficial hierarchy that wouldn’t take kindly to being so suddenly usurped. The sub and their crew did not step into a power vacuum and the fact that they would have to deal with blowback from forces looking to regain power was a foregone conclusion, with the only questions being how and when. This episode brings the island conflict into sharp focus, as the local forces bring the fight to Chaplin and his crew, proving in the process that they are a force to be reckoned with and adding another dimension to the USS Colorado’s decision to commandeer the NATO outpost.
Watching the conflict unfold between Serrat and Chaplin is fascinating. The colonialism undertones that were present in the pilot were very clearly intentional, as this episode prices, and Serrat promises to be a very formidable foe going forward. The episode gives a clear indication about how he rose to power in the island and maintains his grip over the islanders, as well as marking him as someone who will continue to be a serious concern for Chaplin and his crew. It will be interesting to see how Chaplin chooses to react to the death of Redman down the line, as well as how Serrat flexes his muscle going forward. On one hand, Serrat would be foolish to keep brazenly taunting the crew of a nuclear submarine the way he does this episode, but on the other hand, Chaplin’s inaction towards Serrat can be seen as an emboldening move by the islander to enact more extreme measures towards the crew next time around, especially considering they were at this mercy in their first real interaction. If nothing else, this is another possible avenue of attack that the crew will have to keep a close eye on, raising the question of how much the crew can handle on a long-term basis before they start breaking down.
Seeing Chaplin make an uneasy truce with C.O.B Prosser also adds another layer to the conflict. As much as Chaplin is a man of conviction, as he has shown in prior episodes, it has become plainly obvious that he will be unable to continue holding the line if his crew continues fracturing the way they have, so his agreement with Prosser makes perfect sense. However, Prosser continues to directly clash with Lieutenant Shepard, while XO Kendal has made his own distrust of Prosser clear in no uncertain terms, raising the question of whether C.O.B. Prosser’s rejoining the crew will actually do more harm than good in the long run. It will also be interesting to watch who takes action against Prosser if and when the time comes to take a stand against him; while an act from Chaplin would undeniably have the most impact, Kendal and Shepard already have valid reasons to move against the C.O.B., reasons which would seem to only get strengthened with further altercations.
The subplot between Tani and James is a huge improvement over last week. The prior weakness in Tani’s character is very easily taken care of this episode, and having the two characters indirectly connected with the unfolding events as the audience’s guide to discovering the island, rather than making them ineffective pawns in the conflict, is a very smart idea on the part of the writers. Dismantling the idea that the island is paradise, and that the average residents carry ages of wisdom, is a good idea that adds more to both the character of Tani and the island residents as a whole, complexity that is much welcomed. While seemingly only tenuously connected to the main storyline right now, this subplot is nonetheless shaping up to be quite interesting in its own right, and hopefully the writers continue to explore it further.
The trials and tribulations of Kylie Sinclair in Washington DC are also shaping up to be quite compelling, particularly in exposing how deep the government conspiracy runs. The glimpse into Kylie’s family is a good way of showing how she rose to the position of prominence she’s currently in, as well as reinforcing how deep in over her head she was with regards to the USS Colorado. It’s very telling of the show’s quality in just three episodes that, despite being fascinating, the story of governmental corruption that Kylie is wrapped up in is still the least interesting plotline of the show. This is not to say it’s a fundamentally boring storyline, but rather that the other story avenues on this show are strong enough on their own to make what would be the only interesting part of a lesser show the least interesting part of Last Resort.
Overall, this is another fantastic episode of a show that came out of the gate guns blazing, and hasn’t shown any indications of slowing down. The death of Redman is a shocking scene, and the show’s willingness to go to a dark place like that speaks volumes. The character of Sophie Girard also gets some much-needed development this week, moving her, as well as Tani, away from the character-less tropes they were in danger of becoming last episode. The addition of Jay Karnes as the Secretary of Defence is also an exciting development, and it’s worth tuning in next week to see if the show manages to maintain the level of tension and storytelling they’ve managed in the first three episodes.