The fourth episode of The Last Ship on TNT begins with Captain Chandler having a flashback to a sentimental moment with his family. He informs his wife and two kids that he will be radio silent for months and unable to get emails or phone calls. They give him gifts to remember them by. Specifically his daughter gives him a bracelet that the captain periodically is seen twisting in the episode, while he listens to the radio in the communications room. Supposedly lost in thought about his family’s whereabouts.
Of all four episodes of TNT’s new naval show, The Last Ship, this one was the slowest and least interesting. It seems to be filler until a larger plot point, presumably involving the Russians again, comes to fruition. For now the crew sets their course for Costa Rica, where there are some primates for Dr. Scott to test her vaccine on for the deadly virus that has consumed the world. No surprises when the engine begins malfunctioning and the crew complains they do not have a lot of spare parts to make repairs.
A few minutes later Dr. Rachel Scott and Dr. Quincy Tophet get in an argument over Quincy refusing to help her find a cure, because his family probably got killed in the incident with the Russians that has landed him in handcuffs. He accuses Rachel of not having any “skin in the game,” because she does not have a personal life. The viewer was earlier given a small snapshot of a picture where Rachel and a man are embracing, but there has been a notable absence of personal details. Scott loses her cool, calls Quincy a coward and then storms out.
A moment later in the fourth episode of TNT’s new primetime drama, the power to The Last Ship shuts down. There is a fire in the engine room. It could be weeks until the engineers can get back full power. One engine can run, but only periodically because the cooling tanks were busted when the Nathan James’ hull brushed against a coral reef, escaping Guantanamo Bay. All power is directed to Dr. Scott’s lab to keep the primordial strain and other necessary equipment cool enough to survive.
Since the crew of the Nathan James can only run the engine every few hours, they set course for another small island on the Central American coast, because it has fresh water from lots of rainfall. The crew only has around 3,000 gallons of fresh water left, and for a crew of a couple hundred that is bad news. It will take six days for The Last Ship to get to the island, but the water will likely run out by the fourth day, giving the crew two days without water. Captain Chandler disconcertingly hints that after the third day, people start dying.
In a moment of good cop, bad cop, XO Mike Slattery goes to convince Quincy to help Dr. Scott. After being nice for a bit, Slattery informs Quincy that on United States Naval ships, “anything that does not serve a purpose is gone.” Dr. Tophet eventually gives in, but demands he gets occasional sunlight, and a good chess player. Slattery leaves the room looking very smug and has proven to be a shrewd negotiator.
Eventually the last circuit of a generator blows and there is no power anywhere in the ship, except for when the propeller is spinning. Dr. Scott needs her work to be below 41 degrees Fahrenheit in order to survive. Another MacGyver moment occurs where the crew, notably Lt. Andy Chung (Andy T. Chan), who has taken over as chief engineer for Andrea Garnett (Fay Masterson), shot in the Gitmo episode, makes a device to drop her work into the bottom of the ocean. Somehow the device, which looks like a regular steel suitcase, can withstand the pressure of being 400 feet below the surface. A dramatic countdown ensues where Chung reads the temperature out loud until it registers 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Since there is no power The Last Ship cannot move. Chandler devises a plan launch parachutes into the air when the wind blows hard enough, which will then begin pulling the ship, turning the propeller, giving power to the generator, and more importantly keeping Dr. Scott’s lab cool. Chandler is skeptical of his own plan until CMC Jeter gives a sermon of sorts, telling him to keep listening to his heart, head, or God speaking to him, because the crew believes in Captain Chandler and has put their full faith behind him.
Unfortunately the speed of the ship is going to slow. The crew runs out of water and they are all slowly becoming dehydrated. In an archetypal lost at sea scene, seagulls are seen off the bow of the ship, which of course indicates that land is near. The Last Ship spots the island and makes its way there. The fourth episode then cuts to a scene of a beach party for the crew. It is filled with campfires, signing songs, and the crew drinking water likes it is the last beer on earth. There is a general mood of relaxation because the crew is able to get off the Nathan James. They have been holed up inside the destroyer for over five months.
For Quincy and another man named Bacon, he works in the galley and smells like pork apparently, there is no beach party. Instead Quincy gets his chess at the cost of Bacon’s displeasure. The fourth episode of The Last Ship ends with Dr. Scott visiting Chandler to thank him for believing in her. She sincerely hopes she has found a vaccine, but will need to test it in order to truly know.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash