Dr. Rachel Scott’s (Rhona Mitra) research has hit a significant road block, with most of her trial vaccines failing. With only two test monkeys left, it would take a miracle or convenient plot device to keep this ship afloat (metaphor!). That plot device arrives when an SOS signal is received by the crew of the Nathan James from a fishing vessel. The fishing vessel started with 51 occupants, and is now down to just one. How could this one person survive so long? The answer could lie in her DNA. Commander Tom Chandler (Eric Dane) sets course to the fishing boat to retrieve this survivor, and hopefully unlock the secrets to a cure for the virus. But things go awry when those pesky Russians from earlier in the season track the naval crew down. A confrontation leaves Chandler and American stereotype Tex (John Pyper-Ferguson) stranded at sea with just their life vests.
SOS starts out on a familiar path – Dr. Scott’s research hits a snag, crew sets out for a solution, finds the solution, happy ending – but diverges just enough to be exceptional. For one thing, once Chandler and Tex are left floating in the water, they have no guns or bombs to play with, so they are forced to talk. Nothing they say is particularly groundbreaking or clever, but this quiet moment in which these characters can share a laugh is one of the most rewarding of the series thus far. There’s no gunfire, rapid editing, or steely glares. It’s just two people talking, and that’s nice to see.
SOS also stands out by not wrapping things up neatly by the end of the episode. Dare I say, but the makers of The Last Ship craft a remarkable misdirection in the final moments that leads to an interesting cliffhanger. For the first time since I began this series, I’m actually curious to see what is going to happen next.
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