Sunday, November 11, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Last Ship' - Chandler Makes His Peace as the War Comes to a Close in 'Commitment'

TNT's The Last Ship - Episode 5.10 "Commitment"

It is all out war as Chandler must face his fears and confront the greatest threat he has ever encountered.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of TNT's The Last Ship.

"Commitment" was written by Steven Kane and directed by Steven Kane

Is this the end of Admiral Tom Chandler's story? That has been a predominant focus throughout this entire season. Is he still needed at the center of the Navy to handle whatever threats the United States must face in this post-apocalypse world? It's a story that only really works if the audience is aware that this is the final season. If not, then it loses all of its weight because the viewer knows that Eric Dane will continue to be the star of the show. However, this series finale is building to that moment where Chandler has to decide how he wants to find peace. It's not about the final battle with Colombia and taking out Tavo as a threat. Sure, that is a serious component of this hour as well. There are plenty of action sequences that show that there continues to be a significant cost to this war. The helicopter is shot out of the sky. Wolf suffers several major injuries when he storms Tavo's house. Even the Nathan James sinks because the Colombians have managed to rebuild their impressive battleship. But the end of Tavo's story was always going to be inevitable. The only outstanding concern was whether or not he would die at the end of all of this. As such, that continues the parallel between him and Chandler. However, the show doesn't choose to present them face-to-face when they are reaching the conclusion of their similar stories. That's what Tavo wanted. He only wanted to be defeated by the man who saved the world twice. Instead, he got Danny and Sasha. They were just as vital to saving the world. They don't always get the same credit. But here, they are the ones facing off with the season-long antagonist and eliminating that threat. Chandler is actually onboard the Nathan James when it is attacked. He's not the man who orders the crew to abandon ship. That is still Kara's order to give. It's such a tragic moment because that ship has gone through so much. It seemed absolutely indestructible. This season proved that luck was bound to run out in many of these characters' lives. Many of them were marked for death. Many of them did actually die. The show doesn't feature an epilogue to see what actually comes of everyone who survives this latest war. It's unclear just how much peace is established because of the Navy's interference. It's all played as pure heroism. And yet, it has to be more complicated than that because there were many people who believed in Tavo and didn't see that he lost his mind the longer this war was dragged out. Chandler suffered from his own traumatic injuries as well. He doesn't want to hear Sasha when she says he is hearing things that aren't there. He has a reckless regard for his own life. As such, he is willing to drive the Nathan James right into the enemy battleship because he has nothing left to lose. It's an explosion that should easily kill him. There is no reason for him to survive. And yet, it's presented as if it is his choice. Is this the peace he has been looking for? He wanders around the ship as he envisions it as his version of the afterlife. He is greeted by the faces of those he has lost along the way. Of course, it's more meaningful to see Tex and President Michener because they actually had meaningful dynamics with Chandler. Sure, it's great to see many familiar faces like Burk, Meylan, Garnett, Alisha and Doc in this sequence as well. But those mostly feel like fan service to reward the viewers who have been on this journey every step of the way. It's also telling because the show clearly wasn't able to get Rhona Mitra back as Rachel despite that still being an unresolved relationship for Chandler. And in the end, he does choose to live. He is rescued by his friends and they likely return home as heroes once more. It's the rousing way to close out the series. It highlights the kinds of profound sacrifices these men and women make every day and the costs to their actions. But their bravery can still be rewarding as well - even though the argument is still very obvious that Chandler was reckless for what he did to his ship without telling anyone.