‘Last Resort’ episode ‘Blue on Blue” pushes buttons

Two episodes in, ABC’s serial drama “Last Resort” is still surprising me, not only in its level of intensity but in how it’s advancing its plot.

So far we’ve seen an exchange of nuclear weapons, a country wiped half off the map, a rogue nuclear sub and, with the second episode, maneuvering by other countries and interests.

Anybody else having trouble imagining this series running five years?

If you haven’t seen it yet – and I certainly recommend it – “Last Resort” is about what happens when the principled captain and crew of the world’s most advanced nuclear sub, the Colorado, gets orders through unorthodox channels to launch missiles on Pakistan.

Capt. Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher) questions the order and is relieved of command. His executive officer, Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman) raises the same concerns and another American ship tries to blow them out of the water. The global situation quickly spirals out of control: Another sub launches nukes on Pakistan and Chaplin is branded as a “nuclear madman.” Chaplin, Kendal and loyal but green Lt. Grace Shepard (Daisy Betts) decide to take shelter in the cove of an Indian Ocean island. Chaplin broadcasts to the world an ultimatum: Keep a distance of 200 miles or I’ll launch a nuke. Just to prove his point, he fires a shot over the bow of Washington D.C.

In the second episode, Chaplin and the crew are reacting to forces testing their resolve. Early on, a U.S. sub crosses the line and Chaplin chases it away. Then a jet appears in the sky and the sailors quickly figure out that a Navy SEAL team has jumped out at high altitude and is hours away from the island.

While Kendal and Shepard prepare an away team – sorry, I can’t stop thinking of “Star Trek” while watching “Last Resort” – to meet the SEALS, Chaplin takes to back channels to figure out just who’s about to invade “his” island.

The second episode of “Last Resort” impressed me with how quickly it advanced the plot. We learn what’s happening with Kendal’s wife (Jessy Schram) at the hands of the government back home and we learn that Chaplin is keeping secrets. We see Shepard’s leadership continue to be tested. And we get a better idea of the island doings, including the now imprisoned chief of the boat (Robert Patrick) and King (Daniel Lissing), a SEAL who might shake off his guilt to become a player on this chess board.

Random thoughts:

I keep expecting Hurley to show up in an old VW van. Some of the Hawaii locations look very familiar.

Braugher has a big scene each episode, either a dramatic speech or an emotional moment. The guy is Emmy bait already.

My favorite part of the show, besides the military speak and chain of command, is the strong bond developing between characters.

I love the show’s intensity but it also makes me wonder how they can sustain it.

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