The fourth episode of “The Last Ship” was a pleasant surprise. After weeks of griping about the lack of complex characters on the show, I was happy to see that “We’ll Get There” focused most of its time on character development. In fact, the character growth, interaction and back story all served to give it more depth than previous episodes. It seems the title was appropriate for more than one reason.
“We’ll Get There” opens with a touching flashback scene of Capt. Chandler with his family just before he left for the Arctic. It’s clear Chandler loves his wife and children very much and is sad to leave them, especially since he won’t be able to talk to them for months.
Back on the ship in the present, Slattery comes to visit the captain and they have a nice personal chat. We learn that Slattery’s own marriage was not in good shape when he left, and losing his son to the virus was especially hard on his wife because she had to deal with it alone. Slattery is not hopeful he has much to go back to.
I loved both of these opening scenes. Up until now, we haven’t seen enough back story – or realistic personal interactions between the characters. But in this episode, they were central, which made the characters and relationships feel more believable. Seeing the captain with his family put him in a different light. It humanized him and showed us that he is just like every military father and husband who wants to return home and has a lot on the line. And it reminded us how much he is risking to pursue this mission. And the scene with Slattery gave us a new perspective on why he’d previously fought so hard with the captain to return home: He wanted the opportunity to make things right with his family. Plus, Slattery is a character who has been grossly underused, and it was nice to see him more prominently featured in this episode. It was gratifying to see the two interacting on a more personal level.
Those kinds of personal interactions dominated the episode this week. Dr. Scott had a nice scene with Quincy where she goes in to talk to him to ask for his help analyzing the virus sequence. Unlike the captain, she is initially sympathetic to his situation. But he becomes mad at her and insinuates she is happy about the virus because it is good for her career. He accuses her of having no friends or family that anyone could use against her. She angrily calls him a coward and leaves.
Then there was the scene between the captain and Command Master Chief Jeter, who tried to encourage and inspire the captain in his moment of doubt. When the captain is fretting about the lack of winds, Jeter shares his tragic story of causing an accident that killed his wife and daughters. After almost dying seven times at the hospital, he told the captain he recalls wondering, “Why did God leave me here? Why did he spare me? There must be a purpose, some reason.” He says it was faith that got him through those difficult times. And in the past few weeks that faith has been replaced with certainty. He says he knows that he, the captain and everyone on board is there for a reason: the captain is there to lead and the rest of them are there to execute his vision. When the captain says he doesn’t have a vision, Jeter begs to differ. “There’s a voice inside you,” he tells Chandler. “Maybe it’s your highest self, maybe it’s the voice of God, I don’t know. But it’s a voice of hope.”
This scene was a welcome surprise. I liked seeing the captain begin to doubt his vision and direction, relying on others to buoy him. It showed the captain wasn’t perfect, which made him more relatable to me. In fact, this is the first week I’ve really liked the captain. He always had good qualities but he wasn’t interesting enough to me. This week that changed. Not only did we see his doubt, but the flashback scenes portrayed a loving, softer side to the authoritative leader. All of that finally began to round out and deepen his character and make him more appealing.
I also liked the theme of faith in these scenes. In a time of great uncertainty and peril, this man had faith that they all had a purpose and a greater plan. This is not the first time he has mentioned this purpose. It’s been a consistent theme of the series. But this week it was extremely relevant and poignant.
Other scenes that featured nice character dynamics included Slattery visiting Quincy to try to change his mind (and threatening to torture him), Dr. Scott taking tea to the captain to celebrate her vaccine prototype (I thought it was funny that she remembered his tea comment from earlier and said she was giving him his requested rain check), the captain thoughtfully taking Mr. Chung water and food from the island while he was still working on the engines, and Dr. Scott finding the captain after a successful mission and thanking him for believing in her. These scenes all featured memorable moments and I appreciated the emphasis on the characters and dialogue.
It was also nice to find out a little more about some of the characters this week. We learned that Slattery was a former homicide cop in the South Side of Chicago. And we caught the first glimpse of Rachel Scott’s personal life as she looked at a picture of her with a man. Quincy mentioned that she had a booty call a couple times a month and implied she had no real personal connections, but Scott told him he had no idea what she had lost, so it’s possible she left behind a true love. I hope to find out more about that in future episodes. And another flashback scene mixed with the present taught us that Chandler’s stargazing was his way of remembering his children, since he had told them they would all be looking at the same stars, which was their way of being together.
With all the character emphasis, the action this week was much more understated. But the plot still revealed tension that worked well. The Navy may not have been up against the Russians, but they were facing other extreme challenges. They were battling a lack of fresh water and no power to keep the virus samples and experimental vaccine cool. I enjoyed the slower pacing of the plot this week because the challenges they encountered felt realistic in this kind of apocalyptic situation. They took time to focus on problems that a ship in the middle of nowhere might really confront. And the effect was fun. I loved how they kept the virus samples cool by lowering them to the bottom of the ocean. The scene was oddly captivating as Dr. Scott anxiously waited to see if the temperature would reach below 41 degrees. It was also intriguing to see them stuck in the middle of the ocean, only able to sail for one hour at a time before their engines would overheat. (The situation made me nervous to even think about.) And the race for water felt just as dire as being chased by an enemy. Plus, I couldn’t help but be amused when they tried to make water out of beer. As Tex says, “That’s enough to make a grown man cry.”
Of course, in the end they overcame all of their challenges. Just when it looks like they have no hope left, they spot seagulls and see the nearby land. I thought the celebration on the beach was a good way to bring everyone together, marking another positive aspect of the episode: a return to focusing on the team. I thought they did a nice job of using the smaller characters to round out the story. This week we got to know Mr. Chung, the engineer. He was a hard worker who didn’t want to disappoint anyone. And he came through for Dr. Scott, the crew and the captain.
During the celebration, I also noticed that Lt. Alisha Granders was singing about change coming. While she was clearly singing about their hope for a positive change in the future, I couldn’t help but wonder if the song was foreshadowing a more immediate negative change to come.
The episode was not without comedy this week. Tex is adding some great comic relief. He certainly likes the ladies. It was fun to see him trying to dance with Dr. Scott, who had no intention of indulging him. “Hey there, Mary Poppins,” he tells her as he beckons her to dance. “You want to get in on this.” He also enjoyed talking about Lt. Foster. “Whoa, she is tasty, man, is she not?” he says to Lt. Green, who isn’t amused. But Tex’s response was hilarious: “Ahh, lighten up, dude. It’s the end of the world, right? Nothing wrong with spreading a little love around.” I hope they continue to showcase him and his humor.
I also continue to be impressed by Sam Spruell, who plays Quincy. He has gone from the trusted sidekick to a forced traitor to a man who has lost everything, and he brings authenticity to all of it. This week his character was understandably angry and insolent most of the time. He didn’t want to help his former partner or the Navy. But his true character eventually wins out and he decides to help, with just a couple demands, including someone with whom to play chess.
“We’ll Get There” held a lot of positives for me this week, the biggest being character progression. It’s nice to finally enjoy the characters and see their depth, in addition to watching them grow as a team. I also liked that the episode title signified more than one thing. It clearly represented their quest to reach land. But the final words of the captain to Scott reiterate that he is also still thinking of his family. As she tells him he could have gone back for his family long ago, he responds, “We’ll get there.” He isn’t giving up on returning home.
What did you think of “We’ll Get There?” What was your favorite part of the episode? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.