‘Last Resort’ 1.02 Recap: “The Strong and Unwavering Fist of Our Nation”

It appears that ABC’s much-hyped military/political thriller ‘Last Resort’ is a ratings dud and likely to be canceled. I suppose this means that I shouldn’t get too attached to it. Given that the second episode is a pretty noticeable drop-off in quality from the first (which was already kind of dicey), that probably won’t be an issue.

The gist of episode ‘Blue on Blue’ is that, despite Capt. Chaplin’s declaration of a 200-mile no man’s land around the island, other military forces press their luck and try to invade anyway. First, another American submarine intrudes into the island’s waters. To prove that he’s serious, Chaplin (Andre Braugher) engages his ship’s prototype stealth device (the “Perseus”) and fires a dud torpedo directly into the vessel as a warning. The other sub gets the message and turns around.

Later, a commercial jetliner fails to heed warnings and flies over the island. Chaplin feigns preparing to launch a nuke until it changes course. However, he suspects that a Delta Force team could have HALO jumped from the plane and landed on the far side of the island. He sends XO Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman) and Lt. Shepard (Daisy Betts from ‘Persons Unknown’) with a squad to set up an ambush. This leads to much consternation about Americans fighting Americans, and how the team must be prepared to shoot and kill their brothers-in-arms. Some of them aren’t willing to do this. A couple of them have sided with the mutinous Master Chief Prosser (Robert Patrick) and try to sabotage the mission.

All of this really comes to nothing when it turns out that the invading troops aren’t Americans at all, but rather Russian forces hoping to hijack the sub. That clears up any moral objection, since nobody has a problem killin’ dirty Russkies. The resulting histrionic action sequence is ridiculous on a number of levels. First, it seems that Kendal is a terrible strategist. The Russians break through and overwhelm his ambush with very little effort. In a really absurd moment, Shepard tries to play hero and storm a hill (that her team should have already held anyway, if they hadn’t been so incompetent), only to get shot in the arm and nearly killed until her S.E.A.L. boyfriend snipes the baddie standing over her. And we’re supposed to think that Shepard was really brave and heroic for this.

As if that weren’t lame enough, the episode spends a considerable amount of time in Washington, following super-scientist Kylie (Autumn Reeser) as she tries to ferret out the conspiracy. As annoying as Reeser was in the pilot episode, she’s a thousand times more so here. Every moment of screen time with her is a moment wasted.

Even actors that I’ve liked elsewhere, such as Dichen Lachman from ‘Dollhouse’, are given nothing to do and needlessly take up screen time.

Frankly, if this show were to be canceled tomorrow, I wouldn’t feel overly disappointed by it. However, I still think that the premise is pretty great and has a lot of potential, so I’ll probably continue to watch anyway.

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