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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Last Resort: “The Pointy End of the Spear”

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Is there any chance that next week’s series finale of Last Resort won’t be a crushing disappointment? There’s certainly plenty of reason to be pessimistic, beginning with the inconvenient fact that it was never intended to be the series finale, but rather inherited the position by default when ABC canceled the show many weeks ago. We’ve had indications that Shawn Ryan and company had time to course-correct to some degree and make enough alterations that the episode will wrap up the series in a satisfying way. But even though these last few episodes have gone off like firecrackers, I have my doubts.

But that’s for next week. For now, we have a dozen characters scrambling to figure out where they stand, twisted loyalties built on incomplete information, and rapidly evolving subplots built on shifting sands. The coup attempt crumbles just as quickly as it came together; it may well be the shortest story arc in the history of serialized television. (Whether it was originally intended to go on for many more episodes is one of those things we may never know, unless Ryan provides a substantial postmortem on the series in an interview or blog post.)  It was introduced only last week, and it didn’t take long to realize it wasn’t going to happen, especially once Marcus started counting on it.

Another thing we may never know unless it’s divulged next week is what made the Speaker turn so quickly from mutineer to suicide. An ill-timed text message and a whisper in the ear is all it took for him to pull an R. Budd Dwyer on the Senate floor. (Google it, kids.) The news report on the incident also mentioned a second high-profile death, and it sure sounded like Admiral Shepard was making the ol’ “I have five minutes to live” phone call to Grace. Only Kylie escapes unscathed, thanks to her father, who clearly has some sort of arrangement with the nearly-deposed president, judging from his limo’s pit stop at Air Force One.

On the island, the situation is even more chaotic, and it’s hard to tell where the players stand without a scorecard. Prosser is leading the mutiny against Marcus, even going so far as to form an alliance with Serrat in order to procure weapons, but he’s still shooting up in his spare time. Sam is waffling to the very end, but hoping he has Grace on his side if it comes down to relieving Marcus of command. Marcus knows what the COB is up to because he has a mole on the inside of the mutiny. Zhang is playing as many sides as he possibly can, keeping both Marcus and Serrat in play while hoping the mutineers’ attack on the Chinese supply ship gives him the ammunition to go toe-to-toe with Uncle Sam. We’re not sure which side Grace is going to come down on until she gets her call from dear old Dad and fires two flares, much to Sam’s chagrin.

It all happens so fast, it could have been a confusing mess, but episode writer Ron Fitzgerald and director Paris Barclay (a Sons Of Anarchy vet) keep the plot mechanics well-oiled. There are a few missteps, as in the scene where James convinces Tani to leave the island without him; I think we’ve all seen this “I’m going to be the biggest asshole possible, but it’s because I really care” routine a few times too many by now. And the will-they-or-won’t-they stuff with Sam and Sophie seems rather pointless at this juncture. But for the most part, this was another gripping hour of Last Resort, setting us up for… what?

I’ve never been much good at the prediction game, and this one is especially difficult, given that we’re in store for an at least somewhat compromised finale. But what the hell, might as well offer up some speculative nonsense. I doubt the rapist is going to be in charge of the sub for very long, or at least I hope not, as he’s not really a character I was hoping to spend much more time with. I still see Sam ending up siding with Marcus, because Marcus is the most convincing speaker on earth and he’ll just make it happen. I guess the big question is the one that Gilligan’s Island and Lost fans alike asked themselves over the years: Will they get off the island? I’m going to put my money on “no,” but as long as they don’t all wake up in Purgatory, I can’t wait to see how it plays out… even as I remain skeptical that it actually will.


Stray observations:

  • In the previews for next week, ABC bills it as the “season finale.” A little late to play coy now, isn’t it? I guess if 20 million people miraculously tune in for it, they could un-cancel the show, but that’s kind of a long shot.
  • “You want to wear the big hat? Come take it off my head.”
  • OK, your turn. Cut your life into pieces and post your best predictions in the comments.