The Last Ship: “Dead Reckoning”
The Russians are attacking! With a rickety old ship that may or may not have nuclear weapons on board. (Spoiler: it does.) The Russian leader introduces himself: his name is Constantine Nicholai Ruskov, a former vice admiral who clearly thinks very highly of himself. Chandler tells Ruskov to stand down, but the Russian’s all “pffftttt.” He says the Nathan James must hand over the primordial strain of the virus (along with Dr. Scott) or “leave this harbour atop a mushroom cloud.” Instead, Chandler proposes they meet somewhere to negotiate a peaceful solution face-to-face.
Chandler prepares his team for the Ruskov meet-up. He’s made some weird choices: Quincy and Tex, the former Guantanamo Bay guard, are both along for the ride. They arrive at a small cantina on the Cuban mainland wearing full biohazard gear. Ruskov’s sitting inside, smoking a cigar and drinking vodka like he’s on an all-inclusive vacay.
Quincy steps forward and tests Ruskov for the disease—he’s clean.
Meanwhile, on the ship, Slattery spots the Russians planting mines all over the bay. So he starts plotting an escape route—nd says it might be time to retaliate with force.
On land, Ruskov tells his story. During the outbreak, Moscow called all ships back to homeport, but he took matters into his own hands. Now he’s “the last admiral of the last ship of the once great Russian navy.”
As for the vaccine, Chandler says they have no interest in keeping the treatment for themselves—it’s for the world. But Ruskov tells him the world descended into chaos while the Nathan James was in the Arctic. Worse than the virus itself was the fear, which inspired people and governments to commit terrible atrocities. “The world is not worth saving,” Ruskov insists.
Oh, and one other thing: apparently the Russians have a special ingredient necessary to make the vaccine work. Ruskov again demands that the Americans hand over the primordial strain, along with Dr. Scott. As a compromise, Chandler offers a sample of the primordial strain—but Ruskov is not satisfied. And he’s not interested in Quincy, either.
So the two leaders are at loggerheads. Chandler says he’s happy to wait, especially since the Nathan James has all the food on the island. This comment inspires Ruskov to pull out a gun and shoot one of his own men in the head. “One mouth less to feed,” the admiral says.
Back on the Nathan James, Chandler orders his crew to find a way out of the harbour. And he also confronts Dr. Scott about the “missing ingredient” needed for the vaccine. Scott says Ruskov was bluffing—but she looks uncertain. (Quincy, meanwhile, is doing something very suspicious-seeming with a bunch of test tubes in the lab.)
Time to make some plans. There’s a canal they could use as an escape route, but it’s probably too shallow for their ship. Greene says he could take a smaller boat through the canal, sneak up on the Russians, and bomb them. But first, they’re going to need to stock up on supplies at Gitmo.
Two sailors scout the canal, feeding video footage back to the Nathan James. The canal is in better shape than they thought—they could blow the coral and get the ship through. Which is encouraging news! But then something horrible happens: Russian fighters attack the Americans in the canal, killing them on the spot while the Nathan James crew watches via video feed.
Chandler is livid. He races to the deck and calls Ruskov, then hits the retreating Russian dingy with a missile. The three Russian soldiers survive, giving Chandler the opportunity to make a threat: after killing one of his men point blank, is Ruskov really ready to sacrifice three more? He isn’t. Just before the Americans launch their killing shot, Ruskov stops them. He agrees to leave the harbour, but says they have 24 hours to hand over Dr. Scott and the primordial strain.
In the lab, Dr. Scott is shocked when Quincy pulls a gun on her. He forces her onto the deck and tries to get her to jump in the water. But of course, he’s a nerdy scientist, not a thug, and she easily runs away.
Scott races to an area where several American soldiers are working. They all pull their guns on Quincy. So he takes out a vial of the virus and threatens to open it—infecting everybody—if Scott doesn’t go to the Russians. She talks him down, and convinces him to hand over the vial.
Scott is totally confused as to why Quincy went rogue, but his reasoning becomes clear during an interrogation: Ruskov has his family hostage. (Which explains how a British lady spoke to Chandler via radio last episode.) During the hysteria of the outbreak, Quincy collaborated with a Russian scientist named Sergey—his aim was to find a cure, not to help the Russians. But Sergey was killed by Ruskov a few weeks before, and the Russians took his family hostage. Later that night, Quincy was supposed to take Rachel and the samples to a beach, where a boat would be waiting to transport them to the Russian ship. Which could very well come in handy.
On the Russian ship, Quincy’s wife Kelly has a drink with Ruskov—who is definitely trying to channel some Christoph-Waltz-in-Inglourious-Basterds vibes. Also, he has a cruuuuuush on Kelly.
Meanwhile, Chandler thinks they can escape through the old canal. His crew thinks the water isn’t deep enough. Chandler insists they’ll have two-three feet clearance at high tide—just with zero margin for error. He tells the crew to get ready.
Then he recruits Lt. Foster to pose as Dr. Scott during the mission. Greene (aka Foster’s secret boyfriend) first objects—then insists on going with her.
To avoid the Russians’ radar, the Nathan James must travel the canal with no sonar and no radar—an extremely difficult task. The Americans prepare a decoy to convince the Russians they’re staying put in the bay. Apparently by spreading out a sheet of aluminum foil, they can create enough reflection to show up on the Russians’ radar.
When the aluminum foil is in place, they turn off all of the ship’s signals. The red blip on Ruskov’s radar stays the same, meaning their fake-out worked.
As the Nathan James slinks across the canal, Foster and Greene speed toward the Russian ship in a lifeboat. When they get close, the Russians shine a huge spotlight in their direction. Greene holds the box of test tubes in front of his face so they can’t actually tell he isn’t Quincy. And the Russians buy the con!
Greene accelerates, and they start racing toward the Russian destroyer. Timing is key here: at the exact moment when Greene and Foster attack the Russian ship, the Nathan James must torpedo the coral so they can get through the canal without damaging their hull.
But Greene gets distracted. As they pull closer to their target, he slows down the boat and tells Foster to bail. She retorts with a defiant no.
So Greene accelerates again. As they approach the ship, Foster takes out a couple of Russians with a rifle, then she and Greene bail into the water. Their boat—which was loaded with explosives—smashes into the Russian ship, causing a huge blast.
This gives the Nathan James the opportunity to torpedo the coral and get the hell out of the canal. It’s a very tense moment, but they make it through without any damage to their hull.
The same can’t be said for the Russian ship, which is taking in water following the blast. Nothing they can’t patch up, though.
Back on the Nathan James, Greene is not pleased. He lost focus and almost blew the whole mission. Foster is cheerful, and reminds him they got out just fine. He says it’s her fault he almost got everyone killed—basically, he cares too much. “I love you,” he tells her, “just stay away from me.”
Chandler confronts Quincy, who’s handcuffed in some sort of supply cabinet. Quincy is dismayed that Chandler just let his family die—although we don’t really know what’s going to happen to them—but Chandler says their deaths are Quincy’s fault alone. “And what would you have done?” Quincy asks, “If it were your family or risk our ship, what would you have done?”
Chandler doesn’t look so sure. In fact, he goes out in the hall and kind of has a solo freakout.
Back on the Russian ship, Ruskov visits their lab—and there’s a scientist there! Presumably this is Sergey, still alive. The scientist says he needs Scott and the primordial strain to make a vaccine work. As Sergey fishes under the bed for a runaway lab mouse, Ruskov assures him they’ll make it happen, and leaves.
But what’s going on with the mouse? As the episode ends, Sergey holds it close to his face by the tail… and seems to make a major discovery.
Stats of the Week
Number of Nathan James crewmembers killed so far: 3
Number of drinks Ruskov pours this episode: 4
Number of pullover sweaters Dr. Scott wears this episode: 1
Number of times the crew questions the ship’s ability to get through the canal: 3
Number of times Quincy has held a gun in his life: probably just 1, judging by his clumsy attempt to kidnap Dr. Scott
Animals & wildlife we’ve met so far: a dog, several lab mice, a group of artic terns, two rats, another (presumably special) lab mouse