Last Resort Review: ABC's Suspenseful Submarine Drama Is A Keeper
There are a couple of new series this season that take us into unfamiliar waters. Among them is Last Resort, a drama that follows a military submarine crew that finds itself under fire from its own government when they question the order to fire their nukes. From the first couple of episodes, Last Resort is exciting, action-packed and offers the start of some very interesting character drama.
Created by Shawn Ryan and Karl Gajdusek, Last Resort follows the crew of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine "Colorado," which is the most powerful nuclear submarine ever build. The pilot episode doesn't take very long to get going, as we're briefly introduced to some of the crew before the situation turns very serious when the call comes in to fire one of their missiles. When Captain Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher) questions his orders to fire a nuclear missile at Pakistan, he is relieved of his duties on the spot and the command is handed to XO Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman), who likewise believes that something is amiss and also demands confirmation of the orders. The reply to this is an attack on the sub, as the Colorado is fired on and hit, leaving the crew to scramble to recover, which leads them to take cover on a nearby island. With a nuclear sub among their resources, they take refuge and prepare to defend themselves against their own country. This means taking a stand and being prepared to back it up.
The series begins with a military feel, and while that carries over into the island portion of the show, we start to get a better idea of where the series is headed once they arrive at the island and we're introduced to some of the other characters, including Dichen Lachman, who plays one of the island locals Tani Tumrenjack. There are also some dangerous people on the island who don't seem to appreciate the arrival and authority of the military people who have arrived, so island conflict seems inevitable. The story is also split between the sub crew and what's going on stateside as the government tries to deal with the situation.
The plot may seem a bit fantastical, but the writing is good and the pilot episode feels more like a movie than a TV show as we're brought into this dramatic situation and left to wonder how these people are going to deal with it. They have families back home and some of them are dealing with their own personal issues, which will likely play a factor in their stories going forward. With both men and women aboard the Colorado, there are enough characters to make things interesting as we see the military people blend with the island locals.
In the forefront is Braugher's Chaplin, who proves to have the kind of experience and instinct to know how to handle this unusual situation. Chaplin may have been relieved of his duties, but Braugher has full command of our attention. He has a couple of excellent dramatic moments in the first two episodes that really raise the bar for the series and show us the potential for greatness. Fortunately, Scott Speedman, who's character is younger and appears to be looking to Chaplin for guidance, manages to play off Braugher's performance really well, which makes their scenes some of the best ones to watch. And, as COB Joseph Prosser, Robert Patrick brings even more talent to the table, and tension among the ranks as one of the soldiers who may not be on board with the calls Chaplin is making.
If I have one issue with the show going into it, it's Autumn Reeser's character Kylie Sinclair. Kylie is a lobbyist for her family's weapons manufacturing company, and the first couple of episodes have her running around trying to stay on top of what's going on, pursuing leads like a determined reporter trying to uncover a conspiracy. She knows everything about the sub and is clearly well educated in the work she does. But she comes off as sort of a superwoman, amped up and always on, which makes her a little inconsistant with the tone of the show, and not nearly as interesting to me as some of the other female characters. Kylie is young, sexy, talks fast, looks perfect and seems to be one step ahead of the game at every turn. In a way, she reminds me a bit of Carla Gugino's character in Political Animals, only less human. Maybe if Kylie were a few years older, I'd buy the full package, but something isn't working for me with her. That said, in the grand scheme of things, when factoring everything that's going on, it's a minor issue and one that may right itself as the series settles in and we get to know the characters better.
Last Resort starts off strong. It's suspenseful, dramatic and shows real promise. I actually liked the second episode even more than the pilot. I want to know how the characters are going to settle in on the island, and see how they managed to fend off the threat brought upon them by their own government. There's so much potential for an exciting story here. If the show continues to get even better with each new episode, we could be looking at one of the best new series of the season. I'm tentative to get my hopes up about the series' success, however, given that things didn't work out so well for Shawn Ryan's last two projects (Terriers and The Chicago Code). Both dramas were underrated and unfortunately, didn't gain the audiences they deserved. Hopefully that won't be the case for Last Resort because ABC's new drama has all the right ingredients to be a hit. Thursday night's are packed for television, but this one is well worth making room for.
Last Resort premieres tonight (Thursday, September 27) at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC.
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