Bottom Line Up Front: Your favorite televised naval porn is BACK, baby! (Note, if you’re looking for navel porn, sickie, you need to google better.) The Season 2 premiere of TNT’s The Last Ship kicks off with a bang, wraps up dangling plot lines, and allows us to start the season off fresh. I liked it a lot.
Short synopsis (with spoilers): Starting off immediately following last season, CDR Tom Chandler / Cap’n Crunches (Eric Dane) rescues his dad and his kids from the Olympia cure center / charnel house where the evil politico Amy Granderson (a delightfully scenery-chewing Alfre Woodard) is killing off the infected do-nothing, regular folk to make room for her Nazi-esque meritocracy. Dr. Va-va-va-voom-of-virology, Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra) and Granderson’s Navy daughter try to talk Lady Hitler out of her utopian megalomania while negotiating for lab access to manufacture more of the cure. Meanwhile, aboard the USS NATHAN JAMES, the Maryland state police under Granderson’s control have taken control of the ship, shot last season’s idiot Quincy, and have the AWESOME XO SLATTERY (WE LOVE YOU, JAYNE! FIREFLY FOREVER!!!) (Adam Baldwin) under guard. The crew is rounded up and immediately use their greater knowledge of the destroyer to start retaking control. The bad guys tear the ship apart to find the primordial strain of the world-ending virus so they will have sole access to the cure, but the ship’s doc hides it within the emergency kit he’s using to save Quincy’s life.
Pops and the CMC watch the kids and deal with a go-nowhere subplot about the young son developing a fever (He has Red Herring-itis, I believe). Chandler, GUNNO, and Sexy SEAL LT (who actually started to grow on me last year, hackneyed relationship aside) take the power plant where they’ve been burning bodies in order to generate electricity (Soylent Power is PEOPLE!!!) and meet up with the anti-Granderson rebellion. Quincy kills himself to keep his wife from being used as a pawn and to protect the location of the primordial strain, and the XO is locked in the chart room, which he immediately escapes from using the world’s most obvious escape scuttle. The XO sets up shop in the . . . ummmmm, Room of Plot Convenience and utilizes a God-like level of system control to help the few free sailors aboard ship slowly take out the police.
Battle ensues aboard ship and ashore. In the end, minor characters are dead, the cure is safe, Sexy LT Nr. 2’s baby is un-sacrificed, Evil Alfre Woodard commits suicide, Tex is back kickin’ ass and makin’ quips, and the NATHAN JAMES is again under Chandler’s and Slattery’s control.
The Goods: All the characters you loved from last year are back and the show is not much changed. If you loved it then, you’ll love it now. Annoying characters are dead (Bye bye, Quincy! Farewell to your plot thread and family!) Everything is reset so we don’t need to worry overmuch about Baltimore tying us down to one location or the action moving entirely ashore. The action kicks ass and there are some great pyrotechnics. The US Navy is again granting unfettered access to real destroyers and filming on board well. Eric Dane, Rhona Mitra, and Adam Baldwin all do great work here. Sexy Seal LT Nr 1 has a fantastic line when Granderson calls for a status update on the power plant — best line of the episode. Tex is again my favorite.
The Less Goods: The villains and hench-persons are entirely too lawful evil. I get it. Things were bad before the ship got there. Were they “no longer care about my humanity” bad? These cops go Full Nazi awfully damn fast. Chandler and his kids hardly give a thought to his/their wife/mother, who just up and died a few hours before. Quincy pulling his own life-plug and squirting copious amounts of blood as he dies looks like a deleted Baron Harkonnen scene from David Lynch’s Dune (I kept giggling throughout, which is probably not what they were going for). I again shout “Shenanigans!” to the whole concept of burning freshly dead bodies to use as power. We are bags of wet meat. If you want to turn me into a Power-log, you’re gonna have to let me dry to a husk first, or else most of your power and efficiency will be lost boiling off my fluids. In regards to the baby-scare, I’m not sure that’s how vaccines work. Mom getting vaccinated does not make her baby’s stem cells automatically immune. The show’s fidelity to the internal layout of the NATHAN JAMES takes a huge dip here, where the movement and sense of place aboard the destroyer becomes completely confusing and arbitrary. Engineering techno-babble is — AGAIN — complete shit. I dread any upcoming ep in which our red-headed CHENG is the central character or conflict. The worst USN-sin, however, is XO Slattery’s internal ship monitoring and control room. The closest you could get to what he’s doing is in the Engineering Central Control Station or one of the Damage Control Repair Stations (DCRS / Repair Locker), but there ain’t no such space aboard a destroyer where you can monitor all these remote cameras, turn lights on and off, and basically Deus ex Machina his sailors to victory. But he does get to axe the fat statey in the chest, so I’ll allow it.
In the end, the episodes kick butt, they made me smile a lot, and only cringe a little. The goods outweigh the less goods, so this gets two thumbs up from me. Judging from the previews of the season, it looks like more of the same regarding exclusionary/racist/Nazi societies taking hold ashore, but we also get to play with a rogue British nuclear ballistic missile submarine Captain determined to reverse the American Revolution. Finally! We can fight the true enemy: people who add milk to their tea. Until next time, ta-ta for now!