From Shawn Ryan, creator of shows The Shield and The Chicago Code, comes new thriller series Last Resort, the pilot episode of which was released online via Yahoo ahead of it’s premier in the U.S. on the 27th of September.
A group of Navy Seals returning from a mission across the ocean with a man injured, call over radio for pickup and gets no answer. Moments later, their boat is lifted out of the water by the U.S.S. Colorado, a U.S. Navy submarine surfacing beneath them. Once aboard, the sub dives and Captain Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher) and his XO (executive officer) Sam Kendall (Scott Speedman) speak to the Seal team’s leader, who is tight lipped about what mission they were just on and whether it could have any bearing on the sub’s safety.
Later, the crew are called to action stations when an emergency action message is received and confirmed to be an authentic nuclear launch order against the country of Pakistan. The Captain and XO query how the order was received – via a secondary network instead of the main network, which should only happen if the main one has been destroyed in a first strike situation, but when reaching launch depth the ship is able to pick up TV signals indicating that no such thing has occurred. Breaking protocol, the Captain and XO contact command to query this, against the protests of COBB (chief of the boat), Joseph Prosser (Robert Patrick). Command orders the Captain to follow the order, but he refuses and requests it be sent through the proper channels. Moments later the sub is fired upon with a missile strike and dives to prevent destruction, suffering damage and sinking to the ocean floor, and suffering flooding and casualties as a result.
Meanwhile, at a NATO radar listening station on the small island of Sainte Marina, staff monitor the missile launch, unaware that it was on a U.S. submarine. They then monitor two nuclear missiles being launched from sea and detonating in Pakistan. When the Colorado has contained flooding and is once again mobile, the Captain sets course for Sainte Marina, taking control of the island, it’s listening station and declaring a 200 mile exclusion zone around the island, under threat of the Colorado’s nuclear weapons being launched in retaliation.
Last resort is one of the better pilot episodes that there have been, the first half of it, though featuring nothing that we haven’t seen in some form or another before (see Crimson Tide), but it’s well directed and keeps pace as the crew face the real terror of a nuclear launch, and have to deal with either blindly following orders or breaking protocol and questioning what they’ve been trained to do.
Unfortunately, once the episode gets past that point, it then begins to falter. The second half, once the Colorado arrives at Sainte Marina, is far too rushed, and really suffers from this being a single pilot episode as opposed to the feature length pilot that some shows get. Characters that seem to be important for the future of the series in particular – characters on the island – are short-changed as they’re given very little in the way of character scenes, aside from one scene in a bar between one of the Seals and the man who up until that point has been running the island.
There’s also an ongoing plot back in the U.S. where people are unaware of the Colorado’s situation aside from them being marked as traitors. As well as a couple of character who, again have hardly any screen time, yet we’re told that they’re important (though a female character who has designed a piece of technology aboard the Colorado that makes it hard to track, has a blabber-mouth and in reality would have been arrested for leaking secured information). There’s also a couple of casting issues, with Robert Patrick and Bruce Davidson being cast in roles that I suspect because of their casting, won’t stick around past the first few episodes.
Though it does interest me as a series, it also worries me as by episode’s end, this has a similar vibe to last year’s dinosaur series Terra Nova which didn’t make it past it’s original 13 episode order. At the time, Terra Nova (which incidentally had a feature length pilot episode) also seemed like a good idea, the pilot episode established the series well as does this, but was let down by poor writing in subsequent episodes that didn’t keep people watching. Shawn Ryan’s last series, The Chicago Code also didn’t last past 13 episodes, but that at least had decent writing but lacked something. Here’s hoping Last Resort can do better.
Last Resort has not yet been picked up by a broadcaster in the UK yet, watch this space for updates.