First Impressions

The Last Ship

Aired on: TNT

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            Okay, so who doesn’t think that Eric Dane is extremely hot.  He was one of the reasons I used to tune in to Grey’s Anatomy.  Forget about McDreamy, I was all in for McSteamy.  I thought he would have made a great Green Arrow, but that role has already been taken.  After his character was killed off on Grey’s, we wondered what would come next for Dane.  Well, as if he wasn’t already hot, let’s put him in a naval uniform and make him Captain of a United States Destroyer!  Based on a novel by William Brinkley, The Last Ship, premiered on TNT on Sunday, June 22, 2014 at 9:00pm EST.

            In The Last Ship, Eric Dane is Commander Tom Chandler, commanding officer of the naval destroyer the USS Nathan James.  His crew has been radio silent while on operations in the Arctic.  Along with its usual crew, the USS Nathan James has become host to CDC scientists Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra) and Quincy Tophet (Sam Spruell), virologists allegedly along for the ride so they can examine birds in the area.  We soon learn that there is more to their studies than meets the eye.

            When a Russian strike team attacks the USS Nathan James, the scientists and the crew guarding them, we discover what the virologists are really looking for.  As it turns out, a virus has reached global pandemic proportions and Drs. Scott and Tophet are in the Arctic to take samples from the food supply, etc of local birds believed to be the source of the viral strain. 

            Realizing that they can’t dock at any well-traveled port thanks to the contagion, Commander Chandler spots a cruise vessel drifting at sea and docks with it to gain supplies.  Chandler and his team find only one survivor on board and Dr. Scott is quick to sample his blood.  After gathering all of the supplies they can and siphoning off the ship’s fuel, the crew disembarks, only to lose one of their own before leaving.

            It is after this unfortunate event that Dr. Scott learns the truth about the virus.  It is not a pure strain that has mutated over time, but a genetically altered strain used as a weapon of destruction.  Who would conceive of such a horrific and deadly plot?  Can Drs. Scott and Tophet find a way to synthesize a cure, or at least a vaccine, from their samples?  Unable to reach a laboratory thanks to the spread of the virus, can this cure/vaccine be synthesized on the ship?  Will the crew of the USS Nathan James ever be able to go home?

            All of these questions and more will be answered over the course of the series, however long it lasts.  The Last Ship has a realistic plot - people have been talking about global pandemics for years and the idea of someone being sick enough to introduce a genetically altered vaccine into the world for nefarious purposes is definitely not a new one.  Their approach to the problems at hand is also realistic. 

            The casting here is well done.  Eric Dane is a great dramatic actor and I can actually forget that he played a gorgeous plastic surgeon on Grey’s and concentrate on the gorgeous, caring and daring commander of a naval vessel he now portrays.  Rhona Mitra is equally believable as a virologist determined to solve the puzzle that is this pandemic virus.  Other notable stars include Adam Baldwin, Charles Parnell and Paul James (though his part is not long).

            Where I find fault with the show is the lack of damage sustained by the ship during attacks.  Being a Michael Bay show, one expects spectacular explosions and the first episode of The Last Ship has plenty of that sort of action - firefights both on land and at sea, exploding helicopters, missile strikes, you name it.  But I noted that the ship was hit at least twice, if not three times, and sustained no damage.  How is that possible?  How was no one on the ship wounded after the battle with the helicopters by at least some shrapnel?  How did they sustain no damage after the nuclear strike near miss?

            But, I suppose I can forgive this bit of unrealistic action in preference to the dramatic storyline.  A hint at the end of the episode and some previews of further episodes clue us in to a traitor amongst the crew and some unsettling moments at what is supposed to be an abandoned fueling station at Gitmo.  The previews of episodes to come are enough to keep me interested, but I wonder about the shelf life of this series.  I can see one, maybe two seasons tops.  So, until then, I will continue to sit in front of the television Sunday nights to watch the gorgeous Eric Dane and his crew, hope that Dane doesn’t get involved with the sexy scientist he is stuck with, and wonder how the world is going to get out of this one.


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