Recap and review of Last Resort – Season 1 Episode 7 – Nuke It Out
Last Resort is a show that benefits from a narrower focus on its storytelling. Unfortunately, this becomes a problem when episodes have to breeze through a whole bunch of exposition that was left behind in the wake of more leisurely-paced episodes. I very much prefer the latter kind of episode, in which we’re treated to a more nuanced character study, but we occasionally end up getting episodes like “Nuke It Out”. While not a bad episode by any means, it’s far too packed with plot to keep track most of the time, and I’d be here all night if I tried to give a direct blow-by-blow. I’m going to try as best I can, but this episode is a supremely tall order.
Sam (Scott Speedman) and Marcus (Andre Braugher) are on a relentless search for Marcus’s missing launch key. As we discover, the soldier in charge of last week’s insurgency, who goes by the name Booth (Gideon Emory), is a Black Ops soldier affiliated with the CIA. The fact that he’s still alive is a secret only Sam and Marcus know about, since the crew might just mutiny if they discover that Booth was allowed to live after all he pulled. Booth, however, insists that it was never supposed to get as chaotic as it did, saying that they’re “the good guys” too. Their mission was only to capture and extract Navy SEAL Hopper (David Rees Snell) while the CIA sleeper agent in the USS Colorado crew took Chaplin’s key. Apparently, every nuclear sub has a CIA operative embedded in the crew, and so much of the episode is spent trying to ascertain the identity of the traitor. While Marcus has a singular focus on rooting out the undercover operative, Sam is more concerned about keeping the crew from mutiny. In the episode’s best scene, Sam gathers the crew together in formation and commands their love and respect by telling some pretty clever military jokes, before giving the crew all the beer they can drink, and showing them the 1991 Army-Navy football game on a projector: a night off to show his appreciation for all their hard work, loyalty, and sacrifice.
However, the quiet night goes pear-shaped when one of Serrat’s men drops a crewman of the Colorado into the middle of the village, with a bomb strapped to her body. If not for the quick action of Grace (Daisy Betts) and James (Daniel Lissing), the explosive would have taken out the entire encampment, a realization that sets Chaplin off. Earlier, Sam had told Marcus that he needed to start paying attention to the crew and their morale, implying that he should perhaps think about finding some way to repay their loyalty in some form or fashion. Marcus does so by storming Serrat’s compound and demanding the head of the man who planted a bomb on one of his crew. Serrat (Sahr Ngaujah) offers the man, bruised and bloody, and says that he’s already dealt with the rogue gang member’s treachery, since Serrat never ordered him to abduct the Colorado crewman, much less plant a bomb on her. But Chaplin isn’t satisfied. When the man confesses, Marcus decides to show his loyalty to his crew, as well as his appreciation for their service, by showing that he won’t hesitate to execute those who would attempt to harm them. Serrat is beside himself in disbelief over Marcus nonchalantly ordering Petty Officer Brannan (Will Rothhaar) to execute the man. Marcus wallops Serrat and threatens him with total annihilation if he messes with his crew again. Braugher is terrifically unhinged in this season, and does a great job imposing his will and communicating Chaplin’s menace, but it’s hard to feel that all these threats wouldn’t ring hollow, since Serrat has been given “one last chance” for weeks now. There really is no reason he should still be alive at this point, except for the excuse Serrat provides, which is that the people of the island would revolt against the Colorado for killing their leader. In which case, Serrat should be throwing his weight around far more often than he is, given that Chaplin clearly isn’t going to do anything about it.
Sam, for his part, is attempting to negotiate with Booth, discovering what the situation is like back home. Booth claims that his handlers back home need the crew of the Colorado to serve as a symbol of resistance to the current President and his administration, with the idea being that the severity of the situation will turn the tide of public opinion against this administration, which is led by “a man who wants to be emperor, not president.” But the unhinged nature of Captain Chaplin means that he doesn’t make for a very workable symbolic figurehead, so Booth suggests a plan whereby Sam would give up Marcus, who would be kept in a secure, comfortable place as a detainee, and in exchange, Sam would be the more reliable, presentable figurehead of this burgeoning resistance. Sam isn’t buying any of it at first, but Booth suggests that it would be possible for him to arrange to bring Christine (Jessy Schram) to the island to be with him. Sam tells Marcus about the resistance bit, and the fact that there’s a CIA sleeper agent on the ship, but he leaves out the parts about Christine, and about deposing Chaplin directly. It’s an interesting plot that more overtly illustrates the ideological divide between Chaplin and Sam, and how they do business (depicted in the very different ways they choose to demonstrate their loyalty and thanks to the crew). This is easily the most compelling thread of the episode.
But there’s a whole lot more going on this week, which I’m going to itemize for expediency’s sake:
-Petty Officer Cortez (Jessica Camacho) reveals to Grace that she didn’t do with Serrat what everyone thinks she did (namely, perform a sexual favor to secure her release during her time in his captivity). In reality, Serrat pulled her aside and tried to solicit her to act as a spy for him among the crew of the Colorado. She says she turned him down, offering up an anecdote about her father putting down her childhood dog for biting her, as a way of explaining that she refused Serrat because once someone is discovered to be untrustworthy, it’s impossible to ever undo that mistrustful perception, no matter how loyal they ultimately prove themselves to be. Cortez never had much development in the past beyond her brief time in Serrat’s captivity with Brennan, but the fact that she spends the episode talking about loyalty, and then immediately following it up by trying to get Marcus to talk to her about any executive decisions he might be thinking about makes the reveal at the end of the episode all the more obvious. As she sets out into the jungle alone, she comes to a grouping of trees, removes a grouping of stones, and buries the launch key for safe keeping, revealing herself to be the traitor aboard the Colorado. It’s no huge surprise, but it’s definitely a fascinating development, in that we don’t know exactly what Cortez’s orders were beyond simply wresting the launch key from Marcus’s possession, effectively neutralizing his nuclear launch capabilities. This plot could go anywhere, and that’s pretty exhilarating.
-Back in Washington, Kylie Sinclair (Autumn Reeser) learns that Admiral Shepard (Bruce Davison) has been imprisoned for the murder of presidential aide Amanda Shaw, whose death has been explained to the media as having been the result of a plane crash, with her body lost at sea. But Kylie procures a photo of Shaw’s corpse, and gives it to Christine, who goes on national television and reveals the evidence to the world, creating a panic in Secretary of Defense William Curry (Jay Karnes), who sends Paul Wells (Jay Hernandez) to set Christine straight – however, Kylie and Christine are expecting him, leading to Christine coming onto Paul to give Kylie time to bug his car. Paul kisses Christine, misinterpreting her fake flirtation for the real thing, leading to that awkward moment where a man has to be let down gently after misreading the signals. While listening to the bug Kylie planted in his car, we learn that Paul is being blackmailed into spying on Christine by Curry, who is somehow withholding Paul’s son from him. And the plot thickens.
-Oh, and Grace bangs James, which would be random if it wasn’t immediately established as an obviously mercenary act on her end, as she tells James it was a “one-time thing” and that nobody needs to know. In one of the episode’s few light moments, Grace and James perfunctorily thank one another for the sex they just had. Oh Grace, always holding fast to your rigid, disciplined nature, even when cutting loose.
All this, without even addressing some of the other developments in the episode, such as Sam discovering the video of he and Sophie (Camille De Pazzis) making out in a BZ-induced haze (which Sophie doesn’t hold against him, solidifying their trust), or COB (Robert Patrick) being abducted by Serrat and having the soles of his feet torched in order to force him into succumbing to his old painkiller addiction. This is a very busy episode, and it contributes to an overall feeling of purposeful aimlessness, a contradiction if ever there was one, in that the episode both feels like it’s clearly going somewhere, while also having a ton of moments that feel like they’re going nowhere. “Nuke It Out” is simply strange. It isn’t bad, but it’s nowhere near as viscerally entertaining as last week, or as thematically rich as some of the previous episodes of recent weeks. Hopefully now, with the big exposition dump out of the way, the show can begin to tell more focused stories, paced at a more comfortable clip than the break-neck pacing of this week’s hour. We’ll find out when the show returns in two weeks. Until then, have a Happy Thanksgiving holiday!