Recap and review of Last Resort – Season 1 Episode 6 – Another Fine Navy Day
This week’s Last Resort is an episode that doesn’t answer much or provide any information about who these characters are that we didn’t know already, but it’s a success for how it builds tension and keeps the plot moving by hinging on a narrative structure that leaves us guessing. “Another Fine Navy Day” explores the crippling doubt that Sam (Scott Speedman) faces concerning his wife, Christine (Jessy Schram), and whether he’ll ever truly make it back to her. Meanwhile, Chaplin (Andre Braugher) struggles to come to terms with the death of his son in Afghanistan. These are all obvious, previously stated plot points, and the narrative doesn’t pivot much in terms of offering any new insight into these characters’ psyches. As in any episode where character analysis is couched in the rhetoric of hallucinations, the choices are too on-the-nose. But it’s still an exciting episode, and it provides us with plenty of rich directions for the narrative, moving forward.
As it turns out, someone has drugged the island’s water supply with a military drug known as BZ (or “buzz”). The COB (Robert Patrick) was a test subject for the drug “back when music didn’t suck,” and knows all too well that even in small doses, the drug will have a person tripping for hours. Whoever enacted this plot didn’t seem to care very much about collateral damage, as everyone, from the crew of the Colorado to innocent villagers, are freaking out. The effects, which include blackouts, paranoia, rash decisions, and hallucinations, last for eight hours, and the objective is to outlast the drug’s effects and discover who’s trying to get the drop on them.
The narrative jumps back and forth to the hours before the chemical attack to the immediate aftermath, from 1-4 hours after the BZ started taking effect. The structure is jarring at first, since we don’t have enough information to make heads or tails of what’s happening, and that’s simultaneously unsettling and exciting, given that the ostensible villain of this episode is a rogue faction led by a man named McClure, who poses as a member of the Colorado crew. Sam doesn’t recognize the man, and is immediately suspicious, but since recently-reawakened Navy SEAL Hopper broke the man’s arm, he doesn’t appear to be as much a threat as he might otherwise have appeared. Hopper, for his part, considers Chaplin a traitor, and has no interest in joining up with the crew of the Colorado. But that doesn’t stop McClure and his men from taking Hopper captive. He also takes Sophie (Camille De Pazzis) captive in order to utilize her expertise with the communications relay. Their purpose is vague and unspecified, as is the identity of who it is they work for. All we know is that they were working with Julian Serrat (Sahr Ngaujah), to whom they promised control of the island. McClure proves to be a real S.O.B., nonchalantly telling Serrat that he intends to kill Sophie, and then smacks him around when he tries to argue that such an act is not necessary. When you’re outpacing Serrat as the guy viewers most want to see catch a bullet, you know you’re awful beyond measure.
Sam tries to seize back control of the island, but he’s often unsettled by hallucinations of Christine, who continually asks him the same rote questions about whether or not he’s ever coming home, and asking if he really wants to leave her alone like this. Sam’s concerns are spawned after seeing a photo online shot by the paparazzi a few weeks back, in which Christine is seen embracing Paul Wells (Jay Hernandez), Sam’s old college buddy, and now lawyer and government agent attempting to turn Christine against Sam. At least that’s Christine’s theory. But Sam doesn’t know any of this, and he alternates between imagining the two kissing tenderly, to Christine begging Sam to come back. Scott Speedman shows great range with these scenes, letting his eyes show his conflict as her vacillates between certainty and doubt, his desperation ever-present. Even his drug-induced dialogues with Hallucination Christine are great, thanks to what a fittingly judgmental figure Jessy Schram cuts as the imaginary version of Christine. However, it turns out that his last exchange with Hallucination Christine was actually with Sophie, as was the makeout session it culminated in. I’m sure Christine will understand that he was tripping balls though. Sophie seems kind of enamored with it though, as she watches the surveillance video of the moment…multiple times. She must be crushing pretty hard.
Chaplin, meanwhile, is crashing pretty hard. He, Grace (Daisy Betts) and the COB take a skeleton crew aboard the Colorado and drift at a distance of five miles in order to make certain the sub doesn’t come under siege from whoever’s attacking. While there, Chaplin begins to hallucinate the boyhood visage of his dead son, and follows him throughout the deck as he attempts to turn the oxygen back on, after having turned it off to squelch a small fire, before everybody suffocates. I actually found myself surprised at how emotionally invested I was getting in Chaplin’s grief. His story was basically the opposite of Sam’s, in the sense that Chaplin was actively running towards his hallucinations, as opposed to trying to shake them off. Through Braugher’s performance, you could read that Chaplin still knew it was a hallucination, but simply didn’t care. He was just looking for any opportunity he could to be with his son one more time. And while Sam eventually won the day by conquering the hold his hallucinations had over him, Chaplin succumbed to the lure of his hallucinations, and likely would have died as a result if not for the intervention of a mystery third party, who not only turns the oxygen back on, but revives Chaplin with an epinephrine shot…but not before stealing his nuclear launch key from around his neck. Without the firing key, the Colorado has no nuclear launch capabilities; thus, Chaplin has no leverage in negotiations anymore.
And so we’re left with our mysteries. Who do McClure and his men work for? Who stole the firing key? And, lastly, what’s the deal with Hopper and fellow Navy SEAL James King (Daniel Lissing)? As we learn towards the end of the episode, Hopper, James, and the rest of their SEAL team were sent into Pakistan on a rescue mission. However, once there, Hopper received orders via radio that altered the mission objective from recovery to assassination. James claims to have never received these orders, and he has no way of verifying the orders with the rest of the SEAL team since they were all killed in the ensuing chaos of the BZ attack. Thus, Hopper is the only person who can vouch for this change of objective. Either way, the men are responsible for having killed the person they’d been tasked with saving. The implication is that the government nuked Pakistan to cover this up, although it’s hard to know the specifics of the motives. But the pieces are coming together, and it’s a thrilling puzzle to piece along.
“Another Fine Navy Day” is a placeholder episode, but it does a lot to build up the bigger conflicts of the coming weeks, while also letting us dig a little deeper into the pathos of our two leads, even if what we learn about them isn’t anything new. Andre Braugher is already a widely-acclaimed actor, but I feel Scott Speedman is pretty underrated. Episodes like this illustrate why. That said, hopefully next week’s episode fills in pieces of the big picture a bit more. While this episode was great in isolation, I would have liked to have seen it advance the overarching narrative in a more substantive fashion before introducing new mysteries for us to mull over. But I’d still consider “Another Fine Navy Day” to be a success in Last Resort’s pantheon (well, as much of a pantheon as a series can have, six episodes in).