Good news: the third episode of Last Resort was more effective than the slightly underwhelming second episode. “Eight Bells” wasn’t perfect but it further heightened the all important conflict that this story needs to develop its characters and make the stakes feel real. Chaplin’s battle of authority with Mayor Serrat took him to an emotional and psychological place where we had yet to see him go, against a foe you’d think he’d be able to handle, and it produced pretty interesting results.
The Island B-story wasn’t as engaging, with James and Tani’s island adventure serving as a rather forced gateway to romance, though it does explain their rather contrived beginnings. That being said, it wasn’t completely without merit as Tani’s somewhat tragic backstory bears scars that might be worth picking at. Meanwhile, the D.C. narrative gained momentum with Kylie and Admiral Shepard joining forces to make some noise in getting to the bottom of the Colorado conspiracy, as a new antagonist enters the fray to spice things up.
The episode gets off to an exciting start by using a relatively simply device — someone running and firing a gun. It’s Kendal, and it worked. Immediately the gate is opened to the growing sense of unrest between the villagers and their new guests as a fight breaks out over a banana stolen by one of the sailors. Kendal defuses the situation well enough, though I wondered how confident he really was in handling that situation. Throwing the sailor in the brig with the COB was a sign of authority but the COB’s influence over many of the crew turns the heat up on Chaplin. The captain turns it around in the short run by allowing the COB out to help look for the missing crew, on the promise that he follows his orders. Let’s see how that goes in the long run.
Indeed, the meat of the episode comes with the search for the missing. A contrivance allows James to be useful in pointing Chaplin to the direction of Serrat who, as we know, captured Brannan and Cortez in the pilot, and now has a third captive, Red. Serrat certainly provides the additional conflict as he first threatens to kill the sailors for their part in the death of a young villager, before agreeing to let them go if Chaplin can retrieve his very important cargo which is being prevented from getting past the warships parked outside the perimeter.
Chaplin agreeing to Serrat’s demand was interesting as it immediately put him on the back foot in one sense, while boosting his diplomacy points. I wondered how much the recent death of his son, killed in a not too dissimilar situation to the young villager, played into his actions. While I expected him to show more authority in the situation, it was hard to argue against his decision to retrieve the cargo, assuming he could get it done on time.
The mission gave us another chance to see the sub’s fancy invisibility tech in action, and for the most part worked, stealthing the Colorado past the ‘enemy’ ships and to the cargo (which I do hope turns out to be more than just a random plot device). I particularly enjoyed Chaplin’s ‘orchestration’ of the sub and how, at times, it felt a bit like a character itself, one that Chaplin and the COB know intimately.
I also felt the emotionality with Sophie deciding to stay and help guide the crew back through the canyon after they were made by the warships. The juxtaposition of Sophie’s remote help and blind sub somewhere deep underwater created a nice sense of dependency and trust, while shippers of another kind will surely be hoping for more Sophie/Kendal scenes.
With Chaplin late on his agreement Serrat, we get to see just how far the mayor would go on his word. He has Red killed (apparently) after an interesting spot of douchebaggery from Brannan. The reaction of the rest of the crew was one I expected, to seek vengeance while laying down a marker. Chaplin’s reaction was interesting, while visibly cut up by the news about Red, he managed to suck it up and let it be. For now. It was a fine piece of acting from Andre Braugher who managed to convey two believable emotions at once.
What it does for Chaplin’s character is compelling, because if there were question marks over his true motivations and even his sanity in the first two episodes, his ability to keep his cool under this kind of intense pressure while all about him lost theirs, well, it suggests that perhaps his motivations are completely in check and that the death of his son has no bearing on his decision to defy unverified orders.
On the other hand, motivations are rarely all one thing or the other, and his restraint may imply a man who, while he clearly cares about his crew and seemingly has honor in his every step, has a bigger, more important picture to keep in place – one he doesn’t want disturbed by “a thousand cuts”. I’m looking forward to peeling back the layers on the mystery that is Captain Chaplin.
Also a quick word on Michael Gaston entering the fray as Kylie’s duplicitous, Perseus intel stealing father. It seems the Jericho and Fringe (et al) alum is to go-to for antagonistic roles like this and I’m interested to see how that storyline advances. “Eight Bells” nabs Eight Seriable Stars.
8/10 Seriable Stars