With the cure found, and the death of Rachel Scott at the end of the second year, The Last Ship had to find a new raison d’etre for its third year. The show reinvented itself with style, balancing political drama at the White House in St Louis with high stakes naval combat as Chandler – unsurprisingly back aboard the Nathan James despite being the CNO – faced off against the Chinese and a set of pirates who didn’t regard Chandler and his people as the Great Saviours that they believed they were.
The early episodes focused on the capture of members of the Nathan James crew and their torture by a pirate captain; the middle saw the treacherous Chinese President Peng dealt with; while the final act saw the Nathan James return to US soil to find that everything has gone to hell and they need to reassert what America stands for. Elisabeth Rohm’s Alison Shaw was the desperate Machiavelli at the heart of the plot, a role she played well, and it’s a shame that she and Eric Dane’s Chandler only really got one good scene together – but one that went to the heart of the series…
The final episode saw Tom Chandler walk away from his life as CNO and as navy captain, after being pushed into an act that went against everything that he had been fighting for – the rule of law. I doubt there’s anyone watching who wasn’t expecting him to do what he did – particularly after the deaths for which Shaw was responsible – but it was absolutely the right call from the producers for Chandler to walk away to get his head together. If this had been the end of the series, then maybe it would have been right for Bridget Regan’s Sasha to join him; with two more years confirmed, who’s prepared to put money on a) Chandler not being on board the James within two episodes and b) Sasha being at his side?
The character drama has definitely been stronger this year than previously, but that’s not meant the action sequences have been any less effective, with some very tense moments, particularly in the cat and mouse / predator and prey game between the Nathan James and… well, rather a lot of opponents.
Verdict: A constantly enjoyable blend of action and drama. 8/10