The Last Ship: “El Toro”
The Russian Admiral Ruskov was creepy and cruel. But this week’s opportunistic megalomaniac is even worse.
The Nathan James’ engines are back at full capacity following last week’s brush with death. And with the Chief Engineer Andrea Garnett back on her feet as well, the ship is headed for Costa Rica with all its resources gunning. The plan is to test Dr. Scott’s vaccine on some monkeys. Not the most pleasant task, but as Garnett puts it, “Better than humans.”
Tex attempts some small talk (i.e. flirts) with Dr. Scott while she’s running full-sprint on a treadmill. He asks why he never sees her in the wardroom for meals, and she reminds him that she’s not particularly well-liked on the ship. She lied to the crew for four months while their families were dying, after all. Tex tells her not to underestimate people’s capacity to forgive—and says he’ll save her a spot for her at dinner.
Chandler is in bed making a video message for his family when Slattery knocks on the door. They’ve been picking up a lot of distress signals from Costa Rica, indicating that the country is filled with sickness and civil unrest. Dr. Scott thinks they should relocate to Nicaragua, where there’s a monkey reserve 30 miles inland. That’s outside radar range, so Chandler will need to put all his best men on this mission, including himself and Slattery. Scott is also insisting on coming along for the ride.
As the two RIBs (that’s rigid-inflatable boat to you land animals) pull up to the Nicaraguan shoreline, it looks like they’re entering a tropical paradise. Back on the Nathan James, Garnett explains that once the tactical crews fall out of radio range, they’ll switch to a flare system. Green means no radio contact available but everything is okay, red means no radio and things are bad.
They pull up to the edge of the reserve, and Scott says the monkeys like to hang out at a stream near a waterfall. Chandler instructs Scott to stay put with Tex and two other men while the rest of the crew scouts the area.
As Chandler leads his group through the jungle, Tex questions Scott about whether or not she has a boyfriend. She explains that her guy is a journalist, and last she heard he was in Beijing. But that was months ago.
The jungle crew reaches the waterfall and immediately hears monkeys screeching. Great! But before they can capture their prey, a sick Nicaraguan woman emerges from the trees pleading for help while carrying a small child. Chandler screams at his men to strap on their masks. Suddenly, they’re surrounded by sick Nicaraguans, all reaching out for help.
The sailors run back to the boats and Chandler shouts to retreat. He orders Dr. Scott back to the Nathan James—they can’t risk her getting sick—while Chandler, Slattery and his team head upriver to find monkeys.
Pretty soon, Chandler’s team is out of radio range, and they send out a green flare. But moments later, they pass a very creepy-looking shipwrecked yacht with the words “El Toro” written across the side. Apparently, that’s what all the sick people were saying.
Back on the Nathan James, Scott explains to Garnett that the most concentrated area for the primate is deep upriver on the northern bank. That’s probably where Chandler is heading. Shouldn’t they, like, send in some backup? Garnett says that’s not protocol—unless they get the red flare.
The captain and his crew are barely into the jungle when one of the men steps on a trap. Chandler kneels down and pulls the device out of the man’s leg—meaning he’s distracted for a moment. Which gives a band of mean-looking Nicaraguan men the chance to make an ambush.
They’re led to a small village where the people are healthy but the vibe is angry. The men introduce the sailors to a man named El Toro, who speaks fluent English. “Welcome to my jungle,” he says, in the fakest friendly voice. When Chandler asks for their weapons back, El Toro says no. So Chandler explains that there are 200 men on the Nathan James who will come looking for them if they’re not back by the next day.
El Toro isn’t fazed. He orders his men to take the wounded sailor to the doctor—where he can receive an antidote to the poison that was in the trap—and announces to Slattery and Chandler that it’s time to dine.
Tex and Scott have dinner together, and she commends him for finding the humour in a terrible situation. Then they bond over their love of Mark Twain, which they can somehow both quote from memory. Are these two about to fall in love?
Things get weird in El Toro’s dining room. He introduces the sailors to a nervous-looking man called Ervin Delgado, the former mayor of a nearby town—it is his constituents who now live in the encampment. At El Toro’s request, Delgado explains that the wealthy man rules the community according to the ancient Inca system of labour exchange known as Mit’a. Slavery, essentially. But El Toro doesn’t see it that way.
Slattery asks how El Toro made his money. Ladies’ handbags? Drugs? Instead of answering, El Toro grabs hold of the pretty young girl who had been serving their lunch—one of Delgado’s daughters—and explains that she is “in her prime.” Disgusted, the girl pulls free and calls El Toro a pig. After a tense standoff, she is escorted from the tent.
With that drama done (for now), El Toro demands to know what, exactly, the sailors are up to. Chandler says they’re investigating the monkeys—they believe they may have caused the virus. El Toro gives a surprising response: if they needed monkeys, all they had to do was ask. He’ll have his men capture as many monkeys as they need.
But the tense convos still aren’t over. As monkeys are being loaded onto the RIB, El Toro asks Chandler about the flare system. Chandler says they use red during the day and green at night. But El Toro is on to them: he says he thinks green means good and red means bad.
So it doesn’t bode well when the Nathan James spots a green flare on the horizon.
Just as they’re about to leave, chaos erupts at the camp. El Toro has ordered that the mayor’s daughter be taken across the river, where she’ll be left with the sick people. The mayor and his daughter are screaming. And when Slattery and Greene try to intervene, they both get dragged into a fight.
Back on the ship, Scott falls asleep while watching a movie with Tex. As he covers her with a blanket, she wakes up with a start. She says she senses something bad has happened, but Tex insists it was just a dream.
Of course, it wasn’t. At the encampment, Green and Slattery are tied up. Chandler demands that they be released, but El Toro basically laughs in his face. Still, he says if they leave their weapons and their suits, he’ll let them go with their lives and their monkeys.
It’s not a bad offer, and the whole drama could have just ended there. But before walking away, El Toro grabs the mayor’s youngest daughter, Valeria—who is barely even a teenager—and takes her with him to his tent. The Americans are disgusted, but powerless to intervene.
As they drive the RIB away, Slattery demands that they stop. He says they can’t just leave those people there to suffer under El Toro. Jeter thinks they should keep their cool, but Chandler agrees it’s not right. “We came to hunt,” he says, and they turn back towards the camp. Things are about to get macho.
The mayor’s daughter looks terrified as she enters El Toro’s tent. Meanwhile, Slattery and Chandler sneak up on two of El Toro’s guards and swiftly kill them in hand-to-hand combat. Now they have weapons.
El Toro continues his seduction, making Valeria drink from a goblet of wine. He slowly pulls off her dress as she cries. But as he’s bringing her to the bed, he hears gunshots outside.
The sailors split up and silently make their way across the camp. Greene and Slattery narrowly avoid attacks from El Toro’s men. Chandler makes his way to El Toro’s tent—which is really more like a boudoir—where he kills one attacker. But El Toro is nowhere to be found.
That’s because he’s outside looking for his boat. A standoff ensues between El Toro and the mayor, during which El Toro grabs Valeria and holds a knife to her neck. But the sailors shoot down all of his remaining guards, and approach with guns loaded. “You’re finished, boss,” says Chandler, “It’s over.”
El Toro drops the knife and set Valeria free. As he’s making his surrender, Delgado attacks him from behind, stabbing El Toro to death with his own knife. Chandler names Delgado the community’s new leader—but the mayor insists the encampment belongs to everybody.
Back on the Nathan James, Tex tells Scott he just got word that Chandler and his guys are on their way back. Then gives her a swig of whiskey.
As for team on the RIB, it’s one job well done. But as they pass the sick people on the river’s south bank, it’s obvious they still have a long way to go.
Stats of the Week
Number of flirtatious scenes between Dr. Scott and Tex: 5
Number of El Toro’s men we see Chandler & co. kill: 11
Number of times Quincy gets whiny this episode: none, cause he’s not in it!
Animals & wildlife we’ve met so far: a dog, several lab mice, a group of artic terns, two rats, another (presumably special) lab mouse, some monkeys
Regions/countries the ship has visited (or attempted to visit) so far: the United States, the Arctic, France, Guantanamo Bay, Costa Rica, some island in the middle of the Atlantic, Nicaragua