Episode Title: "Controlled Flight Into Terrain"
Writers: Karl Gajdusek & David Wiener
Director: Michael Offer
With about 12 minutes left to go in the series, “Last Resort” headed to a commercial break and I thought to myself “There’s no way that they can satisfactorily wrap up everything in this story by the end of this episode.”
And they couldn’t.
There is some closure, but there’s so much bending and twisting in the final moments of “Last Resort” that it may cause seizures. That said, I’m well aware that the script was hastily changed after ABC canceled the series. So if this is the only closure that we’re going to get from “Last Resort” then I’ll take it.
Full spoilers are ahead for "Controlled Flight Into Terrain," the very last episode of “Last Resort.” If you haven’t seen the premature series finale, stop reading now or else the COB will have a “Bad Conduct Discharge” waiting for you when you get home.
"Controlled Flight Into Terrain" once again provided to be a showcase for Andre Braugher, Scott Speedman and Robert Patrick to demonstrate just how well the leads were cast for this series. Daisy Betts also came into her own while playing off Patrick as Shepard teamed up with the COB.
Picking up where we left off last week, betrayals happened all over the island. Mr. Zheng (Chin Han) turned against Captain Marcus Chaplin (Braugher) when it became clear that Chaplin had lost control over his sub and his crew. The XO, Lt. Commander Sam Kendal (Speedman) was in the brig for siding with Joseph Prosser (Patrick) aka the COB and Lt. Grace Shepard (Betts) had already lost control of the Colorado to the disgraced rapist, Hal Anders (Michael Mosley) and a few treacherous crew members who planned to sell the Colorado to the Chinese.
Not everything worked in this episode, but the scenes on the sub were riveting. Chaplin and Kendal’s reconciliation doesn’t happen easily and their verbal sparring was impressive. But while fighting off the mutiny they recommit their allegiance to each other, so much so that Kendal nearly joins Chaplin in going down with the ship.
Chaplin’s ending may have been rushed, but it felt right for him to stay with the disabled Colorado as a squad of F-18s prepared to bomb it. As he said, the Colorado was his home. It was everything that he wanted and there was nothing left in the U.S. that held any meaning for him. Slightly glossed over was the fact that Chaplin did have a surviving adult son with whom he was estranged, but there was so little time here that the episode didn’t even address Chaplin’s son who was killed during his military service.
Speedman had the thankless of job making the exposition heavy final act work as Kendal attempts to explain who Chaplin was to the press as we see jump cuts in time while the Colorado is destroyed and the Washington D.C. conspiracy comes to a bloody end. That it works at all is a testament to the writers, the editors and Speedman’s performance.
The other highlight of the Colorado mutiny was that it closed off the character arc between Shepard and the COB after finally getting them to a point where they respected each other. Patrick was pretty hilarious as the badly injured COB teased Shepard about the dress code and sexually harassing him while she treated his wound. The COB’s wink was another moment that shouldn’t have worked, but Patrick is just so much fun in the role that it did. I also loved the COB’s reaction to his homecoming near the end.
On the island, the stories weren’t quite as satisfactory. Sophie Girard (Camille De Pazzis) gets her biggest hero moment of the series by standing up to Julian Serrat (Sahr Ngaujah) and his Chinese conspirators, but I was really hoping to see Serrat face some kind of justice for what he did over the course of the series. Compared to everyone else, Serrat gets away relatively consequence free.
The other island storyline revisited James King (Daniel Lissing) as he attempted to settle his debt to Tani Tumrenjack (Dichen Lachman) by killing Mr. Zheng… before Tani changed her mind and asked King not to kill anymore. While it’s good to see King get some closure, I would have enjoyed it more if he had played a larger role in the climax of the series. His only surviving SEAL squad member, Barry Hopper (David Rees Snell) actually got a more important part to play than King did!
At the start of the hour, Hopper paid off Wes "Bullfrog" Porter (Jason Beghe) and retrieved Kendal’s wife, Christine (Jessy Schram) before spiriting her home where she eventually revealed the details of the conspiracy to the press and she also reunited with Kendal. Somewhere over the last few episodes, Hopper kind of became the Han Solo figure of this series. In other words, Hopper was the mercenary who said that he didn’t care about the outcome when the opposite was true. None of that absolves Hopper for his role in starting this crisis, but I would have enjoyed seeing more of that character.
Unfortunately, the person upon whom the Washington D.C. story hinged upon was Kylie Sinclair (Autumn Reeser); the least entertaining character on “Last Resort.” Kylie never seemed to come together during this series and she was badly upstaged here by Robert Mitchell (Darri Ingolfsson), her doomed boyfriend who pleads with her to shoot him if only to give her a chance to expose the President and his conspiracy once she has proven her loyalty to them.
Prior to his death, Mitchell describes being framed for a brutal assassination in an elevator that I would have loved to have seen filmed for this episode. We do see an assassination later, as Kylie sneaks a gun past security and shoots the President… likely moments before the Secret Service gunned her down. If Kylie was a character whom I cared about, that moment could have resonated more. Instead, it felt empty and tacked on. The President had to be dealt with to make this episode function as a conclusion. But this was a sloppy way to do it.
Regardless, I’m sorry to see “Last Resort” go ahead of its time. It’s always disheartening when broadcast audiences don’t bother to watch shows that try to bring a unique experience to TV. But we did get 13 hours of “Last Resort,” and most of it was amazing.