Four episodes deep and Last Resort continues to embrace serialization, but it faces the challenge of adding complexity while keeping the story compelling. In that respect I found “Voluntold” to be lacklustre in parts where didn’t feel as though new ground was being broken. In fairness, the last 15 or so minutes served as a kind of watershed moment for several characters.
The Island itself began to take on an extra relevance, with a new mystery introduced in the shape of its ‘magical properties’. I don’t expect a LOSTian mythology here, but I’m intrigued by the history and ‘power’ that the Island supposedly yields and how it will shape ongoing events. Also adding splashes of color to the episode was an enchanting score, while James finally began to feel less one dimensional.
The D.C. storyline didn’t have the spark I was anticipating following last week, though we do get some development on the potential significance of the stolen Perseus disk. Elsewhere, Christine rattled some cages but the romantic deception storyline feels rather predictable.
Ultimately, “Voluntold” was able to pull itself together to make me feel that I had experienced something worthwhile, but it also brought to light the fact that the show has yet to capture a sense of the global fall-out. Pakistan has apparently been nuked and, a few news reports aside, I don’t feel the magnitude of devastation or tension.
The meat of the episode revolved around the continuing fragmentation of morale among the crew of the Colorado. Through this we got to see more of the team, offering some perspective on just how many men and women Chaplin has under his command — or not, as the episode sought to explore. It made Chaplin’s decision to give (most of them) them a choice to stay or go feel all the more personal.
I felt Brennan’s unravelling could have been better layered, but it kick-started the episode which had meandered up to this point. By now Chaplin had received two direct attempts on his life which elevated his own importance and magnified the question of loyalty.
Chaplin’s list, which was actually a declaration, honed in on the loyalty of the crew, making them consider what it is they signed up for and the complexity of his decision to disobey orders. There’s no doubt that Chaplin used all his skills of mastery to cloud Brennan’s conviction and to turn the situation in his favor, but he also touched on some truths.
I do take issue with Chaplin’s claim that he “had no choice” to defy orders, as he’s the main person who DID have a choice and he certainly considered following them.
But it delves into his own rationale and there’s no getting away from the fact that the Government nuked Pakistan and tried to kill him and his crew. Ultimately, handing the decision over to the crew as to whether to stay or go was a smart move as he knew that the situation was becoming untenable.
If he can’t trust those who are not committed to his vision, better to have 70 loyal men and women than 140 who may or may not try to kill him at any given moment. If the previous episode proved that Chaplin has a steely grasp on the bigger picture, this episode drew some lines on the canvass — he knows that making the bigger picture appear smaller at times can have its advantages.
One complaint I have is that in trying to reinforce the fact that the women crew members could sway some of the male crew into staying, the episode didn’t bother giving any of these women a voice. Cortez aside they were just devices. It would have been nice to convey why some of them might want to stay beyond the fact that it would make the men feel less ballsy if they didn’t.
That might be enough of a motivation, perhaps even a decisive factor, but it was a missed opportunity to add context. Still, I’m hoping Cortez can become a relevant character and I understand that the show is still finding its way.
We got less Serrat in this episode, but as mentioned I’m intrigued by the apparent ‘magic’ that the Island’s soil holds. Sophie lied to him about not finding the rare mineral, but he knows the magic is out there and tells her to continue looking. It seems ‘protecting’ the island is another reason why Sophie decided to stay (that and getting to see Kendal wet). I hope this is going somewhere as it could (could) add another layer to the story.
I’m still not totally convinced by Navy SEAL James, though we did at least get to see more of his buddies in this episode (I was beginning to wonder whether they were even still around), while their role in larger conspiracy took half a step forward — what DID they do in Pakistan that caused the government to fire on the Colorado within minutes of picking them up?
James also had his most convincing moment for me when burying his close friend. For some reason that scene worked, perhaps helped by the symbolism of finally taking his body out of the freezer to bury him. Hopefully the island’s ‘magic soil’ wont resurrect him as that would undo all of the good work. Tani planting a kiss on James while he was unconscious was a curious little moment, but at least someone on the Island loves him.
8/10 Seriable Stars