Last Resort, Season 1, Episode 4: “Voluntold”
Written by Patrick Massett and John Zinman
Directed by Steven DePaul
Airs Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on ABC
Ever since the premiere of Last Resort, the issues and factors that have affected the USS Colorado have all happened in quick succession. In the span of a week, the submarine’s crew have found themselves going from respectable members of American society to international criminals, caught between a rock and a hard place, and going up against an adversary who is not only much more powerful, but whose orders they unquestioningly obeyed until very recently. The death of Redman at the hands of Serrat has only served to heighten the tension, so a boiling point spillover was inevitable, and the US government’s attempts to accelerate the process not exactly helping. This episode sees some of the effects on a few characters who have been pushed too far by their ordeal, delivering another gripping episode in the process.
Having the Secretary of Defence Curry effectively put a hit out on Captain Chaplin is a great way to ratchet up the strained nerves of the crew without making events seem inorganic. The government has shown a certain level of underhandedness and ruthlessness to further their agenda, and the actions of Curry this episode feels like a natural extension of everything else they have done to date to regain control of the sub, or simply ensure it doesn’t fall into anyone else hands. It will be fascinating to watch how the crew’s reaction to Chaplin evolves as time passes; the stay/go list doubtlessly sows the seeds of further discontent, particularly when it comes to essential crew such as Chief Engineer Anders, who are only given the illusion of a choice, and that may come back to haunt Chaplin. On the other hand, however, the order by Curry to blow up the submarine was heard clearly by everyone onboard, which will undoubtedly help some crew members see things from Chaplin’s perspective.
Another potentially fascinating aspect of the show is the imminent alliance between Kylie Sinclair and Christine Kendal that was hinted at at the end of this episode. The writers made a very smart decision with Kylie and her father, Bennett Sinclair (played by veteran character actor Michael Gaston), in having Bennett come clean to Kylie about her missing hard drive almost immediately, rather than dragging it out over a long period of time. This allows Kylie to adapt to her abruptly changing surroundings more quickly, and adds an interesting dimension to any interactions she may have with Christine. In addition, it will be very interesting to see Kylie and Paul Wells face off against each other psychologically, as that would be a fairer and more evenly matched fight than the one between Paul and Christine that is currently occurring.
The inter-island conflict is also shaping up to be compelling in its own way. Serrat’s presence continues to loom over actions taken by the islanders, and Chaplin and his crew’s relatively cowed handling of their only encounter seems to have only embolded him. If what Sophie has discovered truly turns out to be a precious commodity, the island shall become a target, both from internal and external forces, necessitating a larger involvement in the affairs of the locals by the USS Colorado, and how the submarine crew takes on the added responsibility will be interesting to watch. Sophie is right in telling Sam that the island is their responsibility now, but this is a realisation the crew will have to come to on their own, and how each one of them arrives at that conclusion also has the potential to be an interesting series of journeys.
Both character breakdowns this week were very well-handled by the show. Josh’s emotional trauma and survivor’s guilt at having been the indirect cause of Redman’s death manifests itself in a manner that is both unexpected and makes perfect sense, given the show to date. This may not be the last the viewers have seen of Josh’s guilt and mental unhinging as a result of his captivity, and how it manifests itself from here on out will be fascinating to watch. Christine’s breakdown, on the other hand, felt very effective in its frustration and helplessness, and in addition to catching Kylie’s attention, whether or not Christine caught the attention of both a media journalist and/or a government official remains to be seen. An alliance of individuals who dig for the truth behind the USS Colorado’s actions could be a compelling storyline for the show to explore.
Overall, this was another great episode of the fledgling series. The presence of both Jay Karnes, as Secretary of Defence Curry, and David Rees Snell, as Hopper, makes this episode an especially interesting one for fans of Shawn Ryan’s breakout series The Shield, in which both played major roles. Jessy Schram deserves credit for successfully infusing emotion into the public meltdown of Christine, a scene that could have easily gone much more poorly in the hands of a less capable actress. Andre Braugher also deserves recognition for giving the character of Captain Marcus Chaplin some depth and nuance, despite the character’s lack of action in the prior two episodes. Seeing whether the writers choose to keep the show in what seems to be a holding pattern, or begin advancing storylines the way this episode hinted at, should make tuning in next week a worthwhile endeavour.