Last Resort, Season 1, Episode 13: “Controlled Flight into Terrain”
Written by Karl Gajdusek and David Wiener
Directed by Michael Offer
Airs Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on ABC
It’s never easy to say goodbye to a show, especially one that has run for a long time, allowing the audience to build an emotional attachment with the characters and an investment in the story. But amidst the end of a major science fiction show last week, and a major comedy next week, a new show wraps up its run this week, as Last Resort, one of the first shows to get the axe once cancellations began rolling in, bid adieu with the last of its 13 episodes serving as both the season and the series finale. Last Resort is a show that began with a lot of promise, and in its short run, managed to develop a range of complex characters and present a variety of compelling storylines. The key issue such shows face as they get to their finale is how to effectively give each character and story the attention and weight it deserves, an issue compounded for this particular show by its limited run. Fortunately, the show was able to sidestep pitfalls and deliver a tense, emotionally satisfying finale.
The most interesting aspect of the finale was watching the relationship between Kendal and Chaplin. It can be difficult to forget how important Kendal’s input has been to Chaplin, as it was initially Kendal’s reservations that prevented Chaplin from firing the nukes. Kendal has always, however, been iffy on Chaplin’s actions, but remained by his side due to loyalty, loyalty that went up in smoke when he thought Christine was dead. Watching the two men work through their differences, and then reconcile, was thus immensely satisfying, particularly in light of Chaplin’s eventual fate. Kendal also manages to get at some truths about Chaplin that the latter has been unwilling to admit nearly all series, particularly with regards to how he feels when he’s in control of the sub. The idea that Chaplin feels most at home when commanding the USS Colorado goes a long way towards explaining why his convictions never really faltered despite mounting pressure. In hindsight, the idea that Chaplin was going to make it off the sub sounds far-fetched, and the ending thus fit perfectly.
Credit must also be given to the writers for managing to have the allegiances of the sub members, as well as control of the sub, continually shift from person to person, but at no point does it become preposterous or confusing. Anders is, in many ways, the perfect villain to bring everything crashing down; Prosser’s actions were understandable, as were Chaplin’s, but Anders was the perfect example of what happened to the less stable members of the crew of the USS Colorado on the island; they went crazy. All Anders initially wanted to do was go home and fix his failing marriage, but his attempts to get off the island were rebuffed, mentally unbalancing him. Committing the rape was the first sign that he was no longer the same person who’d boarded the sub, and his attempts to broker a deal with the Chinese this episode only cemented that idea. Anders made for a much more compelling villain than Prosser, and his demise was also satisfactorily anti-climactic, as he never really would have been Chaplin’s equal on a level playing field.
Kylie Sinclair’s arc also came to a great conclusion. As someone who was clearly a go-getter but unfortunately relegated to the sidelines due to her tangential involvement with the primary storylines, it was good to see her take charge in the finale and be the one to deliver the final blow. While her shooting of the President is bound to have dire immediate ramifications, her two-pronged approach of assassination and exposure, via Christine, is the smartest way Kylie could have gone about things, and her decision to actually continue to go ahead with this, rather than take the easy path and align with her father, speaks volumes about the character. It is a true regret to see her depart from television screens, and Autumn Reeser did a fantastic job with the role.
Overall, this was as satisfying an ending as was possible. While the storylines had to be wrapped up, due to necessity, nothing felt forced or rushed. While James’ reconciliation with Tani may have been predictable, it was nonetheless good to see him gain some level of peace and closure, as his past life was clearly beginning to wear on him. It was also good to see Grace and Prosser working together in harmony; the professional respect the two have developed for each other is not a storyline that has been at the forefront in any given episode, but has been playing out nonetheless, and its culmination feels earned. Grace Shepard, like Kylie Sinclair, is also a three-dimensional female character who will be sorely missed in a television landscape where women still remain sorely under-represented, and hopefully Daisy Betts, who proved herself in her role as well, returns in another series soon. The under-development of islanders outside of Serrat and Sophie will remain a sore point with the series, as even Tani never really evolved past the person we met in the pilot, outside of becoming James’ love interest, and her conflict with her father over where her brother will stay disappointingly played itself out offscreen. This is simply one negative in a sea of positives, however, about both the show and the finale, and Shawn Ryan once again proved his ability to craft an engaging drama and build an ensemble cast of fleshed-out characters.
Ryan may be back on television before long, however. A pilot of the Beverly Hills Cop tv show, a continuation of the popular Eddie Murphy franchise, has been ordered by CBS. Murphy himself is on board, along with Shawn Ryan, who will be the showrunner if the series gets picked up. No matter whether it does or not, however, whatever Ryan, co-creator Karl Gajdusek, and the writers and cast of Last Resort choose to do next will be something worth looking out for.
– Deepayan Sengupta