Recap and review for Now that Last Resort – Season 1 Episode 8 – Big Chicken Dinner
Now that Last Resort has been canceled, it exists in a strangely liminal state: it hasn’t been pulled from the air like some other immediate cancellations of the TV season, yet it won’t be allowed to grow and develop its plotline beyond the initial thirteen-episode order. The show will be allowed to finish its thirteen-episode run, culminating in a finale that will serve as a cap to the series as a whole, yet it all feels terribly grim, like burying something alive. This ignores, in a way, that “Big Chicken Dinner” is a solid installment, ratcheting up the tension and hinting at greater chaos down the line. Sure, there are deficiencies in the plot, such as the COB (Robert Patrick) dropping off the face of the Earth with nary a mention from the crew after being abducted and tortured by Serrat (Sahr Ngaujah) in the last episode, but overall it’s an episode that plays to the show’s strengths, and really drives home what a shame it is to be losing this series when the run comes to an end in the next five episodes.
The episode explores the conflict between the islanders and the crew of the Colorado, as the man in charge of operating the nukes, a Captain Anders (Michael Mosley), is accused of raping one of the local women during a makeshift Thanksgiving celebration. Because I’ve never once seen Michael Mosley in a role that didn’t require him to play a completely unapologetic villain, his guilt was never much in doubt here, and really, the narrative isn’t all that concerned with whether he actually did it or not. Our familiarity with Anders is fleeting, at best, and we have no frame of reference for the victimized woman at all, so the case can’t serve any other function than to serve as a springboard for the larger conflict between the factions on the island. That said, it’s interesting in itself, as it plays into how the politics on the island, and among the crew of the Colorado, works. Grace (Daisy Betts) is drafted to represent Anders in the tribunal, which will comprise a jury of three islanders, three Colorado crewmen, and one neutral vote, Sophie (Camille De Pazzis). Grace, who was subjected to the same horrific acts as the victim during her days in the academy, recognizes the look in the victim’s eyes as she recounts her tale of how Anders held her down despite her protests. Grace realizes that there’s no way the woman is making it up. However, we don’t learn this until after she’s already provided Anders with a defense against the prosecutor, Serrat, who stacked the jury to ensure a “not guilty” verdict in order to plunge the island into chaos for his own benefit. The story doesn’t contribute much to the season-long narrative, since it’s becoming increasingly perplexing as to why Chaplin (Andre Braugher) allows Serrat to continue to wreak havoc, untested. Yet the story does give Daisy Betts the chance to really stretch her legs, showing her range as an actress as she tearfully recounts to a sympathetic Chaplin how she had to see her rapist at the academy every day until she graduated, since the higher-ups bullied her into opting not to press charges. It’s harrowing stuff, and the vulnerability Betts shows in her performance allows us to get a better handle on Grace as a person, as her strength and resilience are now in even greater evidence than before.
Though Anders is technically acquitted, Chaplin bears witness to his private confession to Grace and his insistence that the rape (along with his pregnant wife leaving him for another man back home) was all Chaplin’s fault anyway for keeping them from their families, which leads to Chaplin giving Anders a choice: accept protection from the rioting, out-for-blood villagers as a prisoner on the Colorado, or take his chances as a free man on the streets of Sainte Marina. Anders opts for the latter and scurries off, though I doubt it’s the last we’ll see of him, as he leaves Chaplin with the parting words that he’ll see the Captain in Hell. I’m pretty sure the island isn’t Hell, although if it’s the same as the Island from Lost…nah, not even then.
With tensions on the island at an all-time high, it’s probably a bad time to have scheduled family visits. As it turns out, a boat bearing provisions and, most importantly, the family members of the Colorado’s crew (stopping in for a 24-hour visit as a show of good faith from the US government), is being allowed to pass the blockade. Another boat will accompany the Food N’ Family freighter, offering to provide transport back to the States for any Colorado crew member desiring for a free pass on treason charges. Chaplin sees through the ploy by the government to turn the crew against him, and he dispatches Sam (Scott Speedman) to get to the bottom of the missing launch key, hoping he’ll be able to discover the identity of the mole within the Colorado’s crew, whom we learned last week is Cortez (Jessica Camacho). Sam places his trust in black ops soldier Booth (Gideon Emery) to help him find the location of the comm site so he can patch through to the higher-ups and discover just who’s been betraying them.
This represents the best arc of the episode, in which Sam and Booth adopt a wry sense of camaraderie as they trek the wilderness en route to the comm site. By campfire, they talk about their wives and the horrors of being tortured while in captivity, with Booth poignantly admitting that thoughts of his wife’s hair hanging in front of her face as she does the crossword puzzle is what got him through, even after their divorce. Sam, meanwhile, talks about Christine (Jessy Schram), and how she seems to just trust him implicitly, even though they’ve hardly been together six weeks over the course of their two-year marriage. These scenes are effective in depicting two men thrown together by circumstances, finding common ground in the universality of their love for the women that keep them strong. There’s a sense that, in a different time under different circumstances, they might have been friends, but the nature of their situation means that Booth will inevitably attempt to kill Sam. Which is exactly what happens, when Booth gets the order, in code over the comm radio, that Sam is to be neutralized. Sam is able to best Booth, and rolls the body in a tarp before setting it on fire, a makeshift funeral pyre for the man whose name was once John Stogier.
As for Christine herself, she and Kylie (Autumn Reeser) are still listening in on the calls between Paul Wells (Jay Hernandez) and Secretary of Defense William Curry (Jay Karnes), and it’s from these conversations that Christine learns that Curry has arranged for her to be on the family boat headed for Sainte Marina. However, Paul lies to Christine and tells her he couldn’t get her on the boat. Kylie deduces that Paul has developed feelings for Christine and is trying to protect her by keeping her out of harm’s way. In researching his past, Kylie discovers that Paul had a son by one of his clients, implying Paul’s weakness for women he thinks he can save. The woman broke things off with Paul, absconded with the child, and left the man brokenhearted and alone. Christine immediately feels sympathy for Paul, but Kylie insists that Christine use his affection for her to their mutual advantage. And so Christine, reluctantly, allows Paul to believe she’s developed feelings for him, and suggests that Paul get her a spot on the boat to Sainte Marina so she can break things off with Sam in person. This segment of the plot mostly succeeds by casting everyone in shades of grey. Paul is a man doing what he has to in order to see his son again, even if it means manipulating the emotionally-vulnerable wife of an American serviceman. However, Christine is also trafficking in a bit of emotional manipulation, as she plays Paul’s feelings against him, preying on his similar vulnerability in order to achieve an end that isn’t exactly villainous either. Both parties simply want to see someone they love again, someone who’s been denied to them. In that sense, they’re far more alike than they think.
It’s a shame we’re going to be losing Last Resort once the next five episodes are through, particularly since “Big Chicken Dinner” is such a solid installment. But like one of my favorite pieces of short fiction so plaintively puts it, “If you can’t fix it, you’ve got to stand it.”