Last Resort: “Eight Bells”
B

Last Resort: “Eight Bells”

After last week’s shaky outing, “Eight Bells” finds Last Resort on steadier footing. The sustainability of the premise remains questionable, but this week’s action/suspense sequences were well-executed (unlike last week’s firefight with the Russians), and the writers managed to keep most of the life lessons under the radar (or under the sonar, I guess). Not all of the subplots are clicking yet, but the tension is definitely ramping up, on the island and off.

Conflict with the islanders was basically a nonfactor last week, but that’s quickly remedied when it’s revealed that some of the Colorado crew are making themselves a little too much at home. When one sailor is caught stealing a banana, Sam nearly has another mini-mutiny on his hands. He orders that the banana thief be taken to the brig, but it’s clear that his authority as a Naval officer has been compromised by recent events and his subordinates are questioning whether they’re even still in the service of the U.S. military at all.

Still, this is a minor skirmish compared to the standoff brewing between Marcus and Mayor Julian. Picking up a thread from the pilot that was barely alluded to last week, it turns out that Julian now has three hostages: Brannan and Cortez, whom we knew about, and Redman, the sailor who wanted to kill the Russian prisoners last week. (If you figured out right away that “Redman” equaled “Redshirt,” you beat me to it.) Sophie, who is planning to leave the island, agrees to broker a meeting between Marcus and Julian. Although he’s upset (or at least pretending to be upset) that a 15-year-old islander was killed in the firefight, the mayor is willing to cut a deal: He’ll release the hostages if Marcus will retrieve some boxes of contraband waiting on a boat outside the blockade of U.S. ships surrounding the island.

That sets up the episode’s big set piece, in which the Colorado crew must sneak out past the blockade, pick up the McGuffins, and slip back to the beach undetected. To help accomplish this task, Marcus frees Prosser from the makeshift jail cell and reinstates him as the COB, with the agreement that their mutual goal is to eventually get back to the U.S. so Marcus can be court-martialed and Prosser can appear as the chief witness. This reunion seemed a bit hasty, but I didn’t really mind because the interplay between Andre Braugher and Robert Patrick was one of the more enjoyable aspects of the pilot, and I’m glad to have more of it. Granted, there’s more of an edge to their exchanges now, but I did get a kick out of the little laugh they shared about the Colorado finding its G-spot at 1300 feet.

Back on the home front, Kylie is trying to track down the source of Order 998 and using her boy toy, the senator’s aide, to do it. She’s also meeting with Admiral Shepard in the D.C. parking garage where these sorts of clandestine rendezvous take place. (“Deep Throat Memorial Parking Garage,” I believe it’s called.) Either Autumn Reeser toned it down a notch this week, or Kylie just didn’t have time to do anything really awful. She does discover that someone has stolen her tech specs for the Perseus device from her home safe, however, and we learn that primetime mainstay Michael Gaston (Damages, Unforgettable) is playing her father. (This is the guy who supposedly invented the Star Wars defense system, remember.)

Last week, I expressed my hope that Dichen Lachman would be given more to do, and now it’s “be careful what you wish for” time. Honestly, the whole subplot about Tani taking James to meet her family plays like some cynical ABC exec’s idea of giving the ladies something to watch. Even if it wasn’t a network directive, this thread is depressingly soap opera-esque, and the question of whether Tani’s brother should stay or leave the island couldn’t interest me less. Making the islanders into more than just background extras is certainly a worthy goal, but there must be a better way.

Fortunately, the main action aboard the sub is tense and engaging enough to make up for the missteps. Even though there was never any doubt that the Colorado would get back to the beach in one piece, it’s still fun to watch the crew sweat it out while Sophie (having decided to stay on the island) guides them through the narrow canyons. Marcus and company do miss Julian’s deadline, however, resulting in the effectively brutal scene in which Brannan throws Redshirt under the bus. People are starting to crack under the pressure. Now let’s see if Last Resort can keep tightening the screws.

Stray observations:

  • Jay Karnes (late of The Shield and Sons Of Anarchy) is Secretary of Defense William Curry, although if you’ve blinked, you may have missed his appearances. Free Jay Karnes!
  • Obviously, there’s something brewing between Sam and Sophie, and Scott Speedman and Camille De Pazzis already have quite a bit of chemistry in their scenes.
  • COB: “You didn’t write, you didn’t call.” Grace: “And you didn’t hang yourself with your shoelaces.”
  • Unfortunately, Last Resort lost more than a million viewers last week. If that trend continues, we probably won’t be doing this much longer.

More TV Club