LAST RESORT 1.07 ‘Nuke It Out’

Chapman and Kendal search for a traitor as King and Grace unexpectedly team up under pressure.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Nuke It Out"

Writers: Nick Antosca & Ned Vizzini

Director: Michael Offer

Previously on "Last Resort":

Episode 1.06: "Another Fine Navy Day"

Television fans, there’s a lesson you need to remember: TV will always break your heart.

For every quality show like “Breaking Bad” or “The Shield” that manages to build a following and survive, there will always be series like “Terriers” and “The Chicago Code” to remind you that the broader audience tends to prefer more conventional programming than you do.

Sadly, “Last Resort” falls into the latter category. ABC officially pulled the plug today and announced that “Last Resort” will not continue past its 13th episode. That’s truly unfortunate, as this was by far one of the best new series of the fall. “Last Resort” may have had a difficult time slot on Thursday nights, but if the audience doesn’t show up then a premature ending is inevitable.

Full spoilers lie ahead for “Nuke It Out.” Skip the rest of this review if you’re not up to date with “Last Resort.”

One of the prevailing theories about why “Last Resort” didn’t catch on is that ABC shows tend to target a female audience with multiple soap opera dramas and it doesn’t have many male-skewed shows. This is not the network that brought you “Lost” and it seems like ABC hasn’t been willing to take many chances since “V” and “FlashForward” failed to recapture the buzz or audience that “Lost” generated.

The funny thing is, this was by far the most soap opera-ish episode of “Last Resort,” complete with romantic hook-ups, betrayals and good old fashioned deception. I’m going to assume that was a deliberate attempt to help “Last Resort” expand its appeal. But too little, too late.

On the top of this week’s romantic encounters, James King (Daniel Lissing) and Lt. Grace Shepard (Daisy Betts) threw themselves at each other on the beach after defusing a suicide vest together. This was not entirely unexpected, as King and Grace have had some good chemistry together and the sequence where they dealt with the bomb was genuinely thrilling. Coming that close to death definitely calls for some kind of release.

Part of King’s willingness to sleep with Grace came out of his own realization that he’s falling too hard for Tani Tumrenjack (Dichen Lachman). King tells Tani that she’s good for him, so of course he sabotages his relationship by sleeping with Grace. King doesn’t know how to handle being happy and he’s probably been attracted to Grace for several weeks now. King also has Grace’s ear as he plants the idea in her head that she isn’t trusted by Captain Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher) and Lt. Commander Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman). King taunted Grace with the knowledge that Booth (Gideon Emery)  — the last surviving member of the paramilitary unit that attacked the island last week  —  was secretly still alive. 

Kendal was even trying to form a bromance of sorts with Booth to gain his trust. And Booth had a few surprising revelations to share. First and foremost, that Booth and his men are resisting the U.S. President and his group wants the Colorado and its crew to remain on the island as a symbol of that resistance. Second, Booth and his superiors think that Chapman is crazy, so they want Kendal to take the sub under his control. And in return, Booth offers to smuggle Kendal’s wife, Christine (Jessy Schram) to the island. 

Surprisingly, “Last Resort” didn’t waste any time letting Kendal find out that he was smooching Sophie Girard (Camille De Pazzis) during last week’s drug induced freak-out. The bigger question is why Sophie kept the video of that kiss on her computer and replayed it a few times for herself. That probably means that she is much more attracted to Kendal than she likes to let on.

You see? I told you this was a very soap opera-ish episode!

The other soapy encounter came between Chapman and Pilar Cortez (Jessica Camacho); who basically propositioned her captain before he turned her down. We got to see a lot more of Cortez this week and my suspicions were proven to be correct: Cortez is the traitor who stole Chapman’s firing key. Cortez was also the woman who saved Chapman’s life and saved the Colorado.

“Nuke It Out” tried to throw us off of Cortez’s scent by having her vow loyalty to Chapman and voice her disapproval of traitors. But someone trying that hard is usually hiding something. Chapman, Kendal and Booth think that whoever has the firing key is an undercover CIA agent. But I’m not getting that vibe from Cortez. I suspect that she has other motivations for stealing the firing key and I definitely don’t believe her when she says that she wasn’t raped by the local despot, Julian Serrat (Sahr Ngaujah).

It’s possible that Cortez wasn’t lying to Grace, but it’s hard to take anything she does or says at face value. I do really like the idea that Booth and his men were resistance fighters working against the President as it nicely explains why they didn’t simply slaughter the disabled crew of the Colorado and retake the island and the sub.

Serrat is becoming a real problem on this show and it flies in the face of all credibility that Chapman and his crew allowed Serrat to not only escape relatively unpunished for aiding Booth’s team, but also after he had one of his men strap a female member of the Colorado’s crew to a suicide vest. Chapman beats and humiliates Serrate for that one, but it doesn’t solve the problem.

So, Serrat and his men get revenge on Joseph Prosser (Robert Patrick) aka the COB in a particularly brutal sequence in which they severely burned his feet with a blow torch and forcibly injected him with a painkiller that he was addicted to years ago. That scene made me realize how much I’ve come to care about the COB. He seemed like a stock character earlier in the series, but Patrick’s gruff performance has been so endearing that the COB is now one of the best characters to watch. This latest turn seems to signal a COB-centric story ahead, but it remains an alarming reminder that Serrat and his followers need to be dealt with permanently.

Back on the home front, “Nuke It Out” had the strongest Washington D.C. storyline of the series to date, as Kylie Sinclair (Autumn Reeser) and Christine used the cover up of Amanda Straugh’s (April Grace) death to expose the government's lies on live national TV. Christine even made Paul Wells (Jay Hernandez) believe that she was falling for him as Kylie slipped into his car and essentially bugged his phone.

Separately, Kylie and Christine haven’t been that compelling. But together they’ve been a lot more fun to watch. Paul even had a redemptive moment when the two women learned that, Secretary of Defense William Curry (Jay Karnes) is blackmailing Paul by using his son as leverage.

We know that Curry is one of the key players behind the conspiracy to nuke Pakistan and frame the Colorado crew as traitors. But we need to meet the President sooner rather than later, especially if he is the true puppet master.

The reality of “Last Resort’s” cancellation means that we may never get a satisfying conclusion to this tale. And that’s the true tragedy of “Last Resort.” There’s nothing worse than an unfinished story, especially when the story in question is as good as this show has been.