Episode Title: "Cinderella Liberty"
Writer: Morenike Balogun
Director: Lesli Linka Glatter
Previously on "Last Resort":
There was a moment in the pilot episode of “Last Resort” where Captain Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher) actually looked like he could be crazy. This was right after he filmed a message denouncing the U.S. Government’s nuclear bombing of Pakistan and explaining why he and the crew of the Colorado refused to carry out what they believed to be an illegal and immoral order.
That was a principled and courageous stand. But then Chaplin just had to suggest that perhaps the island of Sainte Marina really was the new home of the Colorado’s crew, drawing immediate stares of disbelief from XO Lt. Commander Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman) and Lt. Grace Shepard (Daisy Betts).
But "Cinderella Liberty" gave the Colorado an enemy who took the craziness to the next level. And it was in part due to the example set by Chaplin when he defied his leaders on such a grand stage.
Full spoilers lie ahead for “Cinderella Liberty.” If you aren’t caught up with “Last Resort,” stop reading now or else nobody’s going to go look for the COB.
Let’s just get this out of the way now: the whole idea of the government sending a ship full of civilians into this situation seemed even more unbelievable than the core concept of the show itself. It takes a lot of willing disbelief to buy into that; which is why I was convinced that it was some kind of trap or a way to strike at the Colorado through their family members on that ship.
It turns out that it was a way to get at Chaplin and his crew, but not by the U.S. government. Instead, a rogue Pakistani general and his forces seized control of the family ship and demanded that Chaplin nuke India to prevent the severely weakened Pakistan from a Indian general and his armed forces who were preparing to invade.
Setting aside the fact that the civilian ship shouldn’t even be there, this was a great premise for an episode and much better suited for the show than last week’s contrived rape trial storyline. Not that weren’t a few forced moments in this episode.
Kylie Sinclair (Autumn Reeser) finally makes contact with the crew directly and gets Kendal’s attention by telling him that his wife, Christine (Jessy Schram) is on the ship and that he needs to get the recordings from the Navy Seals to bring down the President’s administration and the end the crisis.
Problem 1: the Seals aren’t talking. Problem 2: Chaplin is still missing his nuclear firing key; which means that he really can’t fire any missiles and the Colorado is basically defenseless if the U.S. government figures that out.
Perhaps feeling guilty about stealing the key in the first place, Petty Officer First Class Pilar Cortez (Jessica Camacho) retrieves it from her hiding space and plants it back in Chaplin’s quarters to be found. Despite relatively little screentime on this series, it will be very interesting to see what Cortez’s motivation is at this point. It’s been implied that she’s a CIA plant and we’ve seen her communicating with someone connected to the team that attacked the island a few episodes back.
But we’ve also seen Cortez exhibit some inappropriate romantic feelings for Chaplin and she did save his life while stealing the key from him. Even in this episode, Cortez goes out of her way to get the key back in Chaplin’s hands without exposing herself.
Where "Cinderella Liberty" falls flat is within the premise of the episode itself. The attackers execute at least two female family members on the ship, but they apparently weren’t related to any of the main characters or the supporting characters with frequent speaking roles. The crew is appropriately horrified and angered over the deaths, but to really hit home with the audience those deaths needed to have a more personal effect on the people that we care about. These victims were created just to die, without any real meaning to their demise.
But the episode kicks the story back into gear when Christine is exposed as Kendal’s wife and Paul Wells (Jay Hernandez) tries to save her life by exposing his ties to the government. Paul gets killed for his trouble, but it’s a redemptive turn for his character as Christine forgives him and kisses him as he dies. Despite that, it was still a pretty soap opera moment for Kendal to see his wife kiss another man.
Back on the ship, Grace has the misfortune of being the one to discover the firing key in Chaplin’s quarters; which immediately throws suspicion on to her when she presents it to him. Andre Braugher’s facial expressions in that scene were terrific as he conveyed the sense of betrayal from Chaplin. But really, when isn’t Braugher great? This series would have fallen apart a long time ago if it didn’t have a leading man who can bring the gravitas the way that he can. Another strong moment came when the general made Chaplin realize that he basically gave him the idea to seize the ship with the crew’s families. Chaplin had a palpable sense of horror over the unintended consequences of his actions.
Short on time, Chaplin turns the threat around on the Pakistani general by threatening to nuke his home town while privately pressuring Secretary of Defense William Curry (Jay Karnes) to send help and get the Indian general to call off his plans to invade Pakistan.
Surprisingly, Curry comes through on both fronts. Although Curry’s forces arrive shortly after Kendal and the Seals took out most of the Pakistani forces and proceeded to kidnap Christine right off of the boat. That was a “Come on!” moment if ever I saw one. The other WTF moment came when the media spin was that Chaplin was willing to let the families of his crew die. Clearly a lie to us, but that definitely something I could buy from Curry and his allies. Of course they’re going to paint Chaplin in a bad light every chance that they get. That part makes sense.
This episode had a very effective use of flashbacks that actually gave us answers to questions that have been hanging over the series since the beginning: Why did the U.S. bomb Pakistan and why were the Seals in such a hurry to leave in the pilot?
It turns out that James King (Daniel Lissing), Barry Hopper (David Rees Snell) and the rest of their Seal team were escorting a scientist/nuclear inspector out of Pakistan who had proof that the country had no weapons of mass destruction. Under orders from Curry, Hopper planted evidence of suitcase nukes and murdered the scientist to give the U.S. the justification to attack Pakistan.
During the present day sequences, the Seals had their most compelling hero moments to date as they helped Kendal take out the Pakistani forces and it solidified the bond between King and Kendal... at least until we see how Kendal and Chaplin take the truth about what happened in Pakistan.
Back in Washington D.C.; things dragged to a halt when the story focused on Kylie and her family. Kylie is just not as interesting as the writers seem to believe that she is. And even though her sympathies are clearly with the Colorado and its crew, there’s something about Autumn Reeser’s performance and the way Kylie is written that makes her off-putting. She feels like the most artificial character on this show.
Presumably the COB’s continued absence was a way to keep Robert Patrick offscreen for a few episodes. Even so, it seemed ludicrous that Chaplin and the crew only seem to notice that the COB is missing when they need to spring into action. The last time we saw the COB, local crime lord Julian Serrat (Sahr Ngaujah) had severely burned the COB’s feet and reawakened the COB’s long dormant addiction issues. That only gave me more reason to hate Serrat, but mostly because he’s almost as annoying as Kylie. With the forced conclusion of “Last Resort” only four episodes away, at least Serrat will probably meet his end. I certainly didn’t miss him in this episode.
The ending of "Cinderella Liberty" suggests that Kendal and King are going to leave the island to rescue Christine; which looks like it could be fun. For the most part, this was a really good episode. “Last Resort” has its weaknesses, but they are easily overlooked when the majority of the show is this entertaining.