‘Last Resort’ picks up steam with ‘Eight Bells’

Sarah D. Bunting
Fall TV

In the Navy, the term "eight bells and all's well" refers to the completion of a watch with no incidents to report. But all is far from well on "Last Resort," as Captain Marcus negotiates a hostage situation while coping with his grief and a possibly mutinous crew.

That storyline is straightforward — the U.S. government has ordered a blockade of the island. Ste. Marina "mayor" and drug-runner Julian Serrat has a shipment coming in, and he's kidnapped three Colorado crewfolk, whom he won't free until Marcus agrees to retrieve Julian's loot. Marcus has until sunrise. Nobody's happy about, as Prosser grumbles, playing "bagman to a drug lord," but the mission goes forward, with some excitement when the Perseus cloaking system overloads the sub's circuits, making the Colorado visible to destroyers on the surface. (The sequence in which an anonymous seamen comes down a ladder and drops his flashlight on the metal floor, tipping the destroyers to the Colorado on sonar, is well done.)

The Colorado makes it back safely thanks to NATO Sophie's expert navigation of the sub through a maze of underwater valleys — but misses the sunrise deadline, and Julian kills a hostage in a show of force, forcing the seamen to choose which of them is murdered  (it's a guy named Redman, in a possible nod to the red-shirt phenomenon).

The natives are restless (and so's everyone else)

The three crewmembers are just the literal hostages; almost all the characters are held captive in one way or another, to roles and procedure, family, or situations they can't control. Marcus and Sam are hostage to Prosser's influence over the crew, and must free him in order to quell a mutiny amongst the restive (and snacky — one seaman is thrown in the makeshift brig for stealing a banana) crew. Marcus is informed by a White House mediator that they'll be holding not just the island captive via the blockade, but also his son's body; the government won't give the remains a proper burial until Marcus gives in. Sam's loyalty to Marcus, who may not be thinking clearly, leaves him trapped when he'd really rather just surrender and go home.

And Tani's the hostage of a male-dominated island culture and a father she feels betrayed her. She explains to King that, when her late mother got sick, her father insisted on treating her with traditional medicine. "She was in a lot of pain at the end," Tani sighs, stacking the ginger candies she thinks of as her way of "saying hi" to her mother at the gravesite.

The safe in the first act goes off in the third

Kylie's a hostage to family as well — specifically, her family's influential dealings in the arms business. Meeting secretly with Lt. Grace's dad, Admiral Shepard, in a parking garage — traditionally a super-bad idea in movies and TV; see: 24 -- Kylie hands over the order file number she yoinked last week. Shepard calls her a "parasite who traffics in war," thus guilting her into helping him figure out why the nuke order came through the Antarctic network (if you recall, that's what made Marcus suspicious of the order in the first place), so Kylie tries to leverage her boytoy into getting more info from his senator boss. But the second she showed Boytoy the safe with the Perseus plans in it, then idiotically told him it's the only copy, you just knew that safe would turn up empty later on. Sure enough, Kylie's father shows up to strong-arm Boytoy, and Kylie gets out of the shower to find the safe wide open and nothing inside but a stack of cash.

The situation is worsening on the island, for everyone. Sophie misses a boat out, that has her paramour on it; Sam is troubled by his attraction to Sophie, though he doesn't say anything; Lt. Grace continues to struggle commanding respect. But the show itself is on the rise, finding its rhythm despite some continuing fortune-cookie problems with the dialogue, and relying less on cliché to get things done (that sweet, but not saccharine, ginger-candy detail is one example). "Eight Bells" mixed the tight suspense viewers liked in the pilot with some nifty character beats, like the scene where Marcus and Sam visit Prosser in the brig. Prosser doesn't stop doing pushups to ask if they've gotten arrested too, but when Marcus asks for his word in keeping the crew calm and under control, Prosser drops the wiseacre routine. "My word's still good enough for ya?" he rasps, almost touched. The acting is still first-rate as well, and it's nice to see the show picking up steam.

Watch "Eight Bells" in its entirety right here.