Last Resort, Season 1, Episode 5: “Skeleton Crew”
Written by David Wiener
Directed by Michael Offer
Airs Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on ABC
The tensions between the US Government and the USS Colorado have been steadily increasing since the series premiere. With the perimeter around the island firmly set, and Chaplin seemingly ready to fire nuclear missiles at any moment, direct seizure of the sub has not been an option, though not for lack of trying. This has left the government trying other, indirect methods to get to the crew and submarine, such as using Paul Wells to get to XO Sam through Christine or issuing an order to the crew to arrest the top brass on the sub as war criminals. But with the slow movement or outright failure on these fronts, a direct meeting between Curry and Chaplin was inevitable and anticipated, and this episode delivers, once again proving its ability to raise tension on all fronts in a fantastic manner.
The meet itself is excellently executed. Playing out almost like a chess match, the back and forth between Chaplin/Kendal and Curry/Straugh never once hits a false note, with both parties clearly contemptuous of each other, yet well aware of their opponent’s capabilities. Arthur Shepard also comes across as a wonderful wild card in the proceedings, and the actions he takes, while sudden, fit in with what we’ve come to know about the character quite well. It will be interesting to see where the show chooses to take the character of Admiral Shepard from here, as shooting a White House advisor and wounding the Secretary of Defense can’t be simply brushed aside; however, the elder Shepard is clearly still an important character.
Secretary of Defense Curry is a great addition to the show’s ensemble and Jay Karnes effectively builds a character that has no shades of Dutch Wagenbach in it whatsoever. The show so far has given us a good look at Chaplin, but the government has only been a shadowy entity. This episode, with Curry, does a good job of solidifying the government as a threat, as well as providing an interesting personality foil to Chaplin. With this episode, the show establishes, in a very concrete manner, who and what the crew of the Colorado is up against, which is only bound to make the stakes more palpable going forward.
Watching Grace Shepard take over as Captain of the sub is also a wonderfully exciting plot line. While Chaplin and Kendal have been the ones primarily dealing with friction aboard the sub, it’s no secret that Grace has had her fair share of issues with the crew as well, of a different variety. Giving her control of the sub thus is a great way to bring these issues out to the open and have them dealt with, for better or for worse. It is very interesting to watch Prosser’s opinion of her gradually change as the episode progresses, and it is equally compelling to watch how she reacts to the oncoming threats of the other subs. This storyline could have very easily ended up as a rehash of the sub’s first venture out of the perimeter and it’s a testament to the writers and actors that it manages to feel fresh and distinctly different from the previous encounter. It will be interesting to see how the relationship between Prosser and Grace Shepard progresses from here, as Prosser has given no indication that he’ll let Grace off the hook for defying orders once the crew gets back to America, nor has Shepard given any indication that she has forgiven or forgotten Prosser’s attempt to kill her.
The other fascinating development this episode is the alliance between Kylie Sinclair and Christine Kendal. The latter shows an unexpected amount of clarity and insight in revealing she’s well aware of why Paul Wells is being friendly towards her. Lesser shows might have made Christine oblivious to the circumstances surrounding her and thus made her arc predictable, but here the writers have effectively set Christine on a different path, first by having her publicly rant at the journalists and the government last episode and then openly declare Paul Wells’ deceit here. This makes the alliance much more intriguing, because it’s clear that Christine and Kylie are both very sharp women in different situations, so together they may prove to be a much more formidable force than the likes Curry may be expecting.
Overall, this is another fantastic episode of what is already shaping up to be a top-notch season. The character of James King, while still somewhat under-developed, manages to provide some point of interest every episode, and this week is no different. The story of the Navy SEALs that the Colorado pick up is clearly one that’s far from over and how they play into the larger story, particularly the wounded Hopper, is something worth watching out for, as is the storyline of how Kylie and Christine go about exposing the government conspiracy. How the relationship between Sam Kendal and Chaplin changes following the meeting also promises to be interesting, as does the potential avenues of the primary arc following the direct confrontation between Chaplin and Curry.The show has yet to have a misstep, and the potential exploration of any one of these potential avenues makes tuning it next week a great idea.