The Last Ship (Season 1)

The Last Ship is a post-apocalyptic science fiction television series based on a 1988 novel of the same name written by an American writer and journalist William Brinkley. Brinkley was a commissioned officer in the United States Navy during the World War II, when he served in Europe and the Pacific, primarily in public relations duties. His rich experiences during his service in the Navy served as an inspiration for several books, The Last Ship being the last of them.

The USS Nathan James, a destroyer of the U.S. Navy, with its crew of 217 men and women, is one of the last havens unaffected by the global viral pandemic.

After a global viral pandemic wipes out over 80% of the world's population, The Last Ship tells a story of the crew of a guided missile destroyer of the U.S. Navy, the fictional USS Nathan James, as they struggle to survive in the unforgiving post-apocalyptic world and race to find a cure to stop the virus and pull humanity from the brink of extinction.

The cast of the TV series is led by Eric Dane (X-Men: The Last Stand) as U.S. Navy Commander Tom Chandler, commanding officer of the Nathan James, alongside Adam Baldwin (Firefly, Serenity) as Commander Mike Slattery, executive officer of the ship, and Rhona Mitra (Stargate Universe) as Dr. Rachel Scott, a microbiologist.

Tom Chandler, commanding officer of the USS Nathan James, is a selfless, charismatic leader, who always puts the safety and well-being of his crew before his own.

The Last Ship follows in the well-trodden path by presenting a scenario of a few survivors fighting against the odds in the post-apocalyptic world. While certainly watchable and passably entertaining, the series does not bring anything substantially new that hasn't been explored previously, that would make it stand out, and that you haven't already seen (albeit in a slightly different setting) a dozen times before.

The series is full of old cliches and simplifications (e.g. Good & Clever Americans, Bad & Stupid Russians) which won't be that bad per se, if it wasn't also for a long string of (sometimes almost laughable) scientific blunders, logical inconsistencies and plot deficiencies.

The Captain is at first suspicious of Dr. Scott’s intentions and competence, but she earns his trust when she finds both the vaccine and the cure for the deadly virus.

The lowest point comes in the episode three, when Nathan James gets blocked in Gitmo by a Russian cruiser and the Captain devises a cunning escape plan. In case you had any doubts, no - you cannot fool the enemy’s radar by deploying 5x1 metre tin foil decoy standing in for a 155x20 metres U.S. Navy Destroyer. The smaller an object, the weaker its radar reflection (and vice versa). Furthermore, just because you have set up a new decoy reflector, it doesn't mean that your original target (i.e. USS Nathan James) will suddenly stop reflecting radar waves! And no, going to EMCON 1 will not make too much of a difference either, as it cannot substantially reduce the ship's radar profile. The radar works by transmitting pulses of radio waves that bounce off any object in their path, with electrically conductive materials such as metals particularly well-suited for the detection. By turning off the lights on the bridge, and maintaining radio silence, the five hundred feet long steel hull of the ship won’t magically stop reflecting radar waves. Even the most advanced Zumwalt Class U.S. Navy Destroyer with stealth capabilities (in service from 2015) shows on the radar as a target of the size of a small fishing boat – it won’t disappear from the radar entirely. Therefore, even though the tin foil decoy would have, in principle, worked, the Russians would still have seen two red dots on their radar screen - one smaller stationary (the decoy), and the other one, much bigger, moving away (the ship).

Commander Mike Slattery, executive officer of the ship, is the second-in-command and someone the Captain can always rely upon when facing a sticky situation.

You may be forgiven for thinking that this is already more than enough blunders for a single episode, but there is more. In fact, much more. By interrogating the double-agent microbiologist Quincy Tophet, Captain Chandler finds out that Admiral Ruskov, Captain of the Russian cruiser, instructed Tophet to abduct his colleague Dr. Scott and deliver her, along with the virus samples, to the Russian ship. Chandler uses this knowledge as a basis for a plan to attack the Russian ship via a ruse involving the delivery of fake Dr. Scott. He dispatches a Zodiac packed with explosives, with Lieutenant Green posing as Tophet and Lieutenant Foster as Dr. Scott. As the Zodiac approaches the Russian ship, Green holds up a cooler box to show that he has the virus samples. The Russians fall for the ruse and allow the Zodiac to approach the Russian ship. At the very last moment the Russians realise that they have been deceived, exchange fire with the crew of the boat, but it is too late as Green and Foster jump off the boat just seconds before the Zodiac rams the Russian ship and explodes.

The rogue Admiral Ruskov, Captain of the Russian cruiser and Chandler’s main adversary, is an egotistical sociopath who treats his crew as his personal property.

With the crew of the Russian ship distracted, Nathan James fires torpedoes at the coral reef and the ship exits the bay through the makeshift outlet, without even bothering to check whether there is enough room for the ship’s hull, and with no apparent damage to the ship. And now for the best bit: Minutes later, Green and Foster are fished out from the sea by a crew of the Nathan James safe and sound, completely unscathed and with not a hair out of place! How did they avoid being shot dead or captured by the Russians (they were not more than 20 metres from the Russian cruiser when they jumped off the Zodiac), and just how they managed to speed-swim in the high seas several miles to catch up with the USS Nathan James, is to anybody’s guess.

With the 13 episodes (3 more compared to the season 1) ordered by TNT for the season 2, let's hope that the series’ creators learn from the previous mistakes, iron out the imperfections and the series improves as it goes along.

The Last Ship was renewed for a second season, returning in summer 2015.