“The Last Ship” Season 3 finale was breathtaking in its scope. What it accomplished in one episode, and with a tip of the cap to “The Godfather”, settled all scores, but who saw the last scene coming? Tom Chandler took off his uniform, saluted his crew and asked Commander Mike Flattery, “Permission to go ashore for the last time?” Off into the sunset he walked, with his Nathan James “Spear of the Navy” cap on his head, leaving open questions about how he will recover from discovering he’s human.
After stopping the train in San Diego, Chandler knew that he had a short window before the people in St. Louis realized that regional manager Castillo was out of touch. Teams were dispatched to the homes of the three other regional managers and at the insistence of Kara, a fourth was added. Shaw had to be stopped and after determining whether her grudge was personal, she was sent with Sasha and Burke to St. Louis. Tex led one of the other teams and Mike Slattery got his chance as a commando too.
Like Michael Corleone in “The Godfather”, timed attacks were coordinated, with Chandler running point from the James. He was magnificent, because once Shaw realized he was on the move, she had a drone begin to fire missiles at the ship, damaging it with one, while all others were repelled. Only two regional managers were where they were supposed to be, and were dealt with swiftly. The other, Ms. Price had been summoned to St. Louis to be with Shaw. She was promptly disposed of by a single kill shot and not by the James’ commandos. That was Shaw doing her thing.
When Shaw realized they needed to abandon their position in St. Louis, she had Chandler’s kids kidnapped, and in the process killed his father. When the expected attack on her airplane came, she had the trump card. Her message was simple; swap yourself for your kids, and you and I can take a plane ride somewhere where you’ll be killed.
As an aside, and a little bit of a criticism, didn’t it seem like the teams got to where they were going as if they were on a Star Trek transporter, including Chandler showing up in St. Louis? Presumably the writers decided that we wouldn’t be troubled by that, since we would surely be distracted by the missile vs. missile adventure and the commando teams taking out everyone in sight.
Chandler and his commandos realized this would be a tough nut to crack, but without saying a thing, and using nothing but gestures and facial expressions, (you gotta’ love that), they took the plane with Chandler on board and his kids already safe. In that battle Tex bit the dust. He went in alone to begin the raid and Sasha worked the sniper position, taking out the pilots. It was Tex vs. everyone on board protecting Shaw and while he accomplished his mission, he took one to the chest. Hate them teasing us with his return and then a swift death.
When left alone with Shaw inside the plane, realizing the enormity of what he and his crew had just done, then looking at Tex’s body, he had to endure her screaming at him, lecturing him about his naive beliefs of how to regain the confidence of the American people, nevermind unravel the mini-dictators who ruled the regions. She said things he didn’t want to hear, including the fact that he was the one that unleashed the need for the coup in St. Louis. Rather than saving the world, he kept it in a state of disarray.
He didn’t have to kill her, but he did after seeing the terror on his kids’ faces, learning of his father’s demise and staring at Tex. What did that make him, he wondered, until he realized it. He was Rachel Scott, who he vilified for taking the life of patient zero when it wasn’t necessary, even promising to imprison her when they landed back in St. Louis. He later admitted as much to Sasha. Could he also be that wrong about how to resurrect hope and life in the post-pandemic America as Shaw said?
President Oliver had mentioned the same thing to Chandler, except without the screaming and the finger-pointing. He compared what he saw in the camps during and after the virus ran through the population vs. what he saw and heard in San Diego that day. He no longer saw the fight and willingness to sacrifice to make things better. They are out for themselves. People are tired of the chaos, being starved, dislocated against their will and post-Michener, never knowing what would be next in the fall of the republic.
Chandler and the crew of the Nathan James were the last of the believers, that order would be restored and the country governed, and then Chandler left that group. It was time to be with the people he loved, particularly if the public no longer looked to him as their savior. Before he left the ship he planted a big smooch on Sasha, as she tried to dissuade him from walking away. Slattery led the three-cheer salute and realized there was no point in asking him to reconsider.
Practically speaking, Pres. Oliver has a lot of work to do to convince Americans that he was led astray by Shaw, then beat it out of there before he was killed, leaving the people to quake at the actions of Shaw and her regional managers. What about the two remaining managers? They were taken alive, so there are public trials to deal with, but first, the military members who switched sides have to pledge allegiance to Oliver. Slattery began that process staring down the man who pushed the button for drone attacks on the James, as those around him put down their guns.
It was quite an hour, with twists, turns and shockers galore. Was it good for you? “The Last Ship” will return in 2017 and as recently announced in 2018 as well. Each season the writers have had to reset the story, and this upcoming season might be the most difficult.
Photo credit: Turner Broadcasting, used with permission