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The Last Ship - Safe Zone - Review

This week's episode of The Last Ship can be classified as a bottle episode. Bottle episodes utilize a limited number of settings and cast members, usually in an effort to cut production costs. These types of productions can be very hit or miss depending on how well a show's creative team can craft an episode with the limitations imposed upon them. Fortunately, this bottle episode of The Last Ship passes the test with flying colors.

What Happened:

The events of this installment are set against the backdrop of the Nathan James. Following their success in liberating President Jeffrey Michener from the grasp of the Ramsey brothers, the crew must convince POTUS that the well-spoken and enchanting Sean is far more sinister than he appears at face value. This attempt to get Michener to drink the Nathan James Kool-Aid results in a philosophical debate between Chandler and the President. During this rather tense battle of ideals, Michener discusses Sean's plan to move all the Immunes to New Orleans, which is heavily fortified after the events of Hurricane Katrina and should prove to be the perfect place to run their operations. It is there that Sean will carry out his vision for a new world led by a master race of Immunes.

As he continues to find himself unable to sway Michener, Chandler decides to appeal to the widowed POTUS' patriarchal sensibilities by revealing his own struggles with leaving his kids behind in Norfolk. Michener then opens up about the loss of his wife and children, but is cut short when Jeter comes to inform Chandler of an urgent matter. Chandler leaves to attend to this issue. As it turns out, Sean Ramsey is broadcasting false propaganda reports over the radio waves stating that Dr. Scott's cure is not what it appears to be and that Chandler's crew is dangerous.

After his conversation with Chandler, Michener goes back to his quarters, obviously distressed. He decides to take his own life by slitting his wrists, only to be found by Chandler before bleeding out. While POTUS recuperates, viewers are given more insight into his backstory. Apparently, Michener, who was responsible for setting up a safe zone in Florida, broke CDC protocol by bringing his college student son to the area from Michigan. However, Michener's son did not know he was sick from the virus at the time and ended up infecting everyone in the safe zone. After their son died, Michener's wife begged him to kill their daughters before they had to endure any suffering that would be brought on by the virus. Michener fulfilled this requested by smothering his daughters in their sleep. The guilt of this action has stayed with Michener, resulting in his suicidal actions.

In an effort to sway Michener away from Ramsey's side, Chandler tells him he can find redemption by doing what is right and working against Sean. This seems to be enough to convince Michener, as he is later shown giving the crew all the intel he has on the Achilles, the Ramsey brothers, and the Immunes. By episode's end Chandler brings Michener to his new quarters, which has been set up as a sort of ersatz Oval Office. Leaving Michener to get settled, Chandler salutes him. The President salutes back, finally ready to do what is right.

What Worked/What Didn't Work: 

For a quieter sort of episode, this installment was certainly among this season's standouts. Though extremely light on the action, this episode provided audiences with a compelling character study of Jeffrey Michener that also served the purpose of illuminating our view of Commander Chandler. This episode really dug deep and gave us a great opportunity to get to know these characters. Although the characters did come off a bit long-winded and cliched while engaging in several different soliloquies about redemption and family throughout the episode, it was nice to see the writers making an effort to help them seem more well-rounded.

Mark Moses gave quite the performance in this episode. In the past, this actor has done a great job portraying villains and cowards of the worst kind, most notably Paul Young on Desperate Housewives and Dennis Boyd on Homeland. Despite his always strong performances, the characters portrayed by Moses sometimes come off as rather one-note, due in part to the way they have been written. In this episode, Moses was given a rare opportunity to really shine with the material given to him. By allowing the actor to portray a variety of conflicting emotions, he was able to deliver a complex and layered performance of the highest caliber.

Overall Episode Grade: 9 Anchors Out of 10

With Michener now on their side, the Nathan James crew has a leg up on Sean Ramsey and his boys. As the show continues to approach this year's finale, the conflict between these rivaling crews should prove to be quite intense. Next week's episode can't come soon enough!

About the Author - Liam Dacko
Liam Dacko is a student at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. He is majoring in mediated communication and minoring in journalism. In addition to writing for SpoilerTV, Liam also serves as editor-in-chief of Stonehill's biweekly student-run publication, The Summit. He is a lover of all things related to television. Some of his favorite shows include Arrow, The Flash, Criminal Minds, Scandal, The Middle, Homeland, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. He continues to have many sleepless nights over the cancellation of TNT's Dallas reboot.
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