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The Last Resort - First episode reviewed

The Last Resort

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

CRIMSON Tide met The Rock in the first episode of Shawn (The Shield) Ryan’s latest series, The Last Resort.

Boasting the highest of high concepts, this revolves around the crew of a nuclear submarine, the USS Colorado, whose failure to comply with orders to fire its missiles at Pakistan sees them targeted by their own government and forced to go rogue.

One hour in and we’ve already had three nukes fired – two at Pakistan and one at the US by the Colorado – and more tense stand-offs than you might have thought imaginable.

And yet in spite of this, there is yet to be a clear villain. The ‘order’ to fire on Pakistan was relayed via a secondary Antarctic outpost and only authenticated by people two steps removed from the top. Yet Washington, so we hear, is in crisis.

Caught in the middle of this is a wise captain (Andre Braugher’s Captain Marcus Chaplin), a loyal second-in-commmand (Scott Speedman’s XO Sam Kendal), a female lieutenant (Daisy Betts’ Grace Shepard, who is also an admiral’s daughter) and a dissenting veteran (Robert Patrick’s Joseph Prosser).

By the end of the episode, Chaplin had guided his sub to a Nato outpost in the Indian ocean and had staved off a second strike against his crew by firing a warning shot over Washington. And then supposed what it would be like if they stayed at the outpost indefinitely.

It sets up myriad possibilities from issues of loyalty and betrayal to the consequence and responsibility of being a nuclear power.

Ryan is canny enough to ensure that, going forward, there will be plenty to find out about (and test) each character. But for now, there’s more than enough to keep us interested.

Braugher is typically mesmerising in the central role, balancing compassion with steadfast resolve (his decision not to self-destruct the nuke he fired a clear statement of intent), while Speeman makes an interesting second-in-command, someone who while certainly loyal trusts his own instincts too.

Admittedly, the show is at its most gripping when in the claustrophobic confines of the sub. And it was a shame when it eventually found dry land because it introduced a new batch of characters who, thus far, look a lot less interesting.

But so long as it concentrates on the main dynamic and doesn’t become too silly or side-tracked with the islanders or the people back home in Washington, this has a decent shot at offering genuinely gripping television.

If nothing else, though, this pilot episode was an excellent exercise in balancing sustained tension with intriguing scene-setting. We’ll definitely be coming back for more.