The Last Ship, Episode 3 – “Dead Reckoning” Review

Yeah!  More 5″ gun love!  Plus vessel borne IED’s, torpedoes, restricted waters navigation, Russian standoffs, betrayals, love lost, and some radar cross-section goodness, all on this latest episode of TNT’s respectful naval porn.

My synopsis:  the Russian cruiser that snuck into Gitmo Bay to threaten our worthies aboard the USS NATHAN JAMES gives definition to their threat by demanding both the primordial virus and Dr. Rachel “Va-va-va-voom-virology” Scott be turned over to them.  Cap’n Crunches (CDR Tom Chandler) proves he’s no pushover on the bridge-to-bridge radio and recommends they meet ashore.  Turncoat scientist Quincy, Tex, and a full tactical team accompany them to the faceoff between Chandler and Admiral Roznakov.  Roznakov has gone full-on megalomaniac, and he seeks to use the virus to establish himself as Master of All He Surveys, with Chandler either falling in line or getting sunk.  Chandler sticks to his patriotic guns and offers a sample of the virus, but refuses to give up the Doc, reasoning that the Russians can’t attack his ship without losing what they want, and even if the Russians can block the bay forever with their nuclear-powered cruiser, they’ll run out of food and eventually have to let the NATHAN JAMES escape.  Roznakov counters by blowing away one of his own men, saying he’s prepared to do what he must, and now he has one less mouth to feed.  They each return to their respective ships, and the Russkies up the ante by mining the bay, while Chandler’s navigator locates a small canal they might be able to escape from if they can clear some coral out of the way.  Tensions mount further when the Russians kill the team Chandler sends out in a semi-submersible to survey the canal, and our Skipper retaliates by blowing the Russian small boat team out of the water with a 5″ round, and threatens to kill them unless Roznakov retreats over the horizon.

Then Quincy tries to force Rachel Scott off the ship at gunpoint so he can deliver her to Roznakov.  That plan goes south when security sees him, and it devolves into a tense standoff on the messdecks, with Quincy threatening to expose the whole crew to the virus.  Rachel talks him down and Quincy is arrested.  We then find that he’s not exactly a black-hat traitor.  He had been sharing info with the Russian virus team, but after the fall, Roznakov intervened and kidnapped Quincy’s wife and kid(s), forcing him to betray the NATHAN JAMES or his family would die.  His plan had been to take Rachel and the virus on a RHIB and trade them for his loved ones.  This gives Chandler a plan.  He will now send in our two sexy LTs in love, dressed as Quincy and Scott, armed with a wired-to-explode small boat to disable the Russian cruiser (like the USS COLE, bad memories for me on that note).  While that ploy goes on, the NATHAN JAMES will sneak out at EMCON, leaving behind a radar decoy made of aluminum foil in order to fool the Russian’s radar systems, then navigate the treachorous canal, which they will clear with a torpedo.  Long story short, the plan works, the Russians are disabled, the NATHAN JAMES scrapes her way out of port, our sexy LTs break up because our detached SEAL can’t handle a strong, confident woman, and Quincy challenges the Skipper to say he wouldn’t have done the same thing if his family had been held hostage.

The Goods: More 5″ action, this time in HSMST mode (High Speed Maneuvering Surface Target); special navigation detail love; much muy macho posturing on both ships; finally a good, identifiable antagonist, with the promise of more to come; Quincy having a reason for his traitorous deeds; using 5″ shells and C4 as an IED; the ending with our Russian Typhoid Marty;  Chandler echoing good ol’ Admiral Arleigh Burke himself:  “This ship is built to fight, you better know how!” Radar Cross Section discussions; Prairie and Masker get mentioned (though the show does not bother explaining what they are); and, of course, the venerable Mk 54 TORPEDO killing some coral.

The Less Goods: Jesus Christ, I’m ready for our two sexy LTs being all sexy together to CEASE being a subplot on this show.  It is ham-fisted and tedious.  Their argument and breakup were completely ridiculous and I’m ready for one or both to die.  There are much better characters and better relationships that could be explored instead of this trope-ish tripe.  I love the character of Roznakov and am intrigued by that last scene, but blowing away his own man was needlessly over the top and a blatant invitation for his hard-drinking XO to mutiny.  The two-man semi-submersible was kinda stupid.  That sorta thing don’t exist, except with special warfare perhaps.  Why would it have been on the ship?  Much better and more realistic would be if they had used a UUV (Underwater Unmanned Vehicle), which some models of Flight II-A destroyer were outfitted with as a minehunting platform.  Mentioning Tomahawks as an anti-ship platform, unless this is the super-special secret variant they were testing in the pilot episode.  Better to use SM-2 or an SM-6, or a VLS-enabled Harpoon missile.  There once was a TASM proposed, but it went away in the 90’s.  And though I love the nod to DDG-51 class’s RCS being as low as 10 feet of aluminum foil, I’m pretty sure just stringing up 10 feet of aluminum foil on the pier and then driving away slow at EMCON will not result in you being invisible to radar.  They shoulda gotten shelled by the Russkies as soon as their radar return split from the one left on the pier.  Radar is not an either-or type of system.  It returns whatever is out there, including your relatively stealthy destroyer, regardless of whatever you put on the pier.  If they are confusing this with chaff discrimination, that might be an out, but then again, NO.

But, as before, the Goods HEAVILY OUT-WEIGH the Less Goods, thus I remain happy as both a casual watcher and a career naval Surface Warrior.

Don’t forget to check out next week and lemme know what you think about my reviews as well as the rest of the site!

11 thoughts on “The Last Ship, Episode 3 – “Dead Reckoning” Review

  1. I struggled with how our irritatingly in love LTs returned to the NATHAN JAMES (under way) after bombing the Russian ship. Are we expected to believe they swam to a rendezvous?

  2. You are entirely to generous in your review of this pathetic show. When the very buff CDR Chandler stuck his hand in the faulty electrical fixture(first episode) we all would have benefited if there was a bright flash, smoke, and a view of a “crispy critter” on the deck. Series over, with the unfortunate result of the cast filling out unemployment forms.
    Less time watching TV and get back to work on the ASID sequel.
    Seriously CDR Mays keep up the good work as an SF author and one of our dedicated US Navy active duty officers.
    Ed Beatty

  3. The worst part of the semi-submersible segment was that the guy riding it was too obviously a red shirt. He sure picked a bad time to not be EMCON.

    Tiniest blooper, requiring a pause: The binding on Admiral Roznakov’s book faces the wrong side. Russians, like most Europeans, have their bindings reading the other way. Sorry if that ruins the episode for everyone. 🙂

    Overall, I thought it was a great episode.

  4. I thought that the attack by exploding rubber boat on the Russian cruiser was a bit silly. But then I watched John Wayne use a submarine to ram a Japanese Q-ship! (Operation Pacific 1951). I’m fairly sure that’s not in the manual either.

    As for the romantic lieutenants, Mr Wayne talking endlessly to Patricia Neal about their relationship was far worse.

  5. I love these end -of- the- world shows. Pity it’s always the Yanks doing the flag waving saving. The attack by the launch on the Russkies was just ludicrous. The LTs hit everything they aimed at, from a bouncing boat. The Russians couldn’t hit the water if they fell off their ship. The LTs dive overboard and the Russians FAIL to send a boat to capture them. The LTs somehow make it to a rendezvous several kms away. This plot hole could have fit a carrier through it. Plot holes matter. This show has form now. If it takes liberties like that with viewer IQ, there is nowhere it won’t go. It’s moving into ‘Last Resort’ territory, which stretched incredulity beyond break point. I watched ‘Platoon’ recently (1986 movie). Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, even Charlie Sheen act this bunch of try-hards off the screen. Their war was hell. This end of the world looks like just another opportunity for Uncle Sam, and his orchestra, to rise to the occasion. I’ll give ep 4, 5, 6 a shot. I just hope my brain holds out.

    • Plot holes, you’re not kidding! But I like the show anyway. I just wish they would at least try to explain why they don’t/didn’t blow the Russian ship out of the water when A) they are a much newer ship and B) when they had the ideal opportunity of zero retaliation when they were tearing off in an unseen direction after the Zodiac blew a hole in the side of them. I know the show needs a protagonist so the Russian can’t be destroyed, but at least give a plausible reason why they can’t!

  6. An american rubber boat is more than a match for a russian heavy cruiser of +24.000 tons, no argument there, … seriously. ^^
    What amazed me the most, however, was the escape through the backdoor out of Guantanamo Bay. Wait, what? What backdoor? I checked a few maps, but that canal does not exist. …only one way in and out of Gitmo. Well, until Nathan James fired that hellish torpedo.

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