The Last Ship (S04E05) "Allegiance"

As I see it, my reviews for the first four episodes of this season proved almost entirely positive. That praise was with genuine sincerity for I use this platform to share my honest thoughts each week and I was really enjoying the season so far. However, last night I felt let down by the episode on a number of levels and don’t intend to sugar-coat my authentic thoughts for the sake of a positive review. I didn’t ENTIRELY dislike the episode and I have some good things to say about it but I have some major negatives to comment on and hope that next week these reviews will return to their heavily positive, enthusiastic (and thus, more coherent!) manner. I’m certain that not everyone who reads this will be in entire agreement with me, but I’d love you to read on and hear me out, and share back your thoughts if you want to.
In summary, the episode was less action-filled this week with all attention focused on the Nathan James. That is bar one small excursion to rescue passengers aboard a (fake?) sinking ship. I’m usually one of a minority, in the fact that I seek more character focus amongst all the action – so I’d have hoped to be a fan of this character-centric episode, but you can tell by now I wasn’t, and I’ll come back to that after summarising.
Slattery is still weak as the episode begins, unsurprising as the episode picks up exactly where the previous episode ended as usual. He’s also suffering a sort-of comedown from the Nostos, it’s effects having provided him with a glance into a happier past. Meanwhile, within the first few minutes Kandie makes a stand and shows that she isn’t afraid to speak her mind, providing us with a little background on her character after 4 episodes of very little depth since her introduction. Speaking of depth, the episode moved the narrative forward very little – so I’m finding this episode summary more difficult to lay out. In short, Tom decides to step back into his captain role, with the crew experiencing very mixed feelings about his return. Like Kandie, we also saw more character development with Burk, who’s PTSD was portrayed in this episode – a common form of mental illness within the military and something I’m glad the show have brought light to.
Perhaps on par with Tom’s reinstatement, the crucial point in the episode was Fletcher receiving new orders from a British intelligence colleague, hidden amongst the “refugees” now aboard the James. We learn that the British have made a deal with scientist Dr Vellek, and after 16 months serving with the Nathan James, it’s now Fletcher’s mission to go behind their backs and steal the seeds so they can be snuck off of the ship for Vellek and the Brits. Tom seems to believe the crew/America should work with Vellek, regardless of his nature, for the greater good. It is unbeknownst to them at this point that even if they decided to work with Vellek, the British have beaten them to it. Maybe Tom is correct in his view that Vellek is the only one who can make something of these seeds? That will remain to be seen. Meylan on the other hand, the third of three captains on board the NJ – had believed the priority was to return the seeds to America, but shortly after stepping up as first captain while Slattery is injured, he is forced back into a supporting position as Tom takes the lead.
Am I surprised that Fletcher’s loyalties aren’t truly with the Nathan James? Not one bit. If you’ve read any of my past reviews, particularly last week, I saw it coming (who didn’t?). That said, I’ll admit my surprise at the fact that up until receiving these orders, Fletcher was sincere in his role within the team. He was genuinely sent to work WITH the US Navy, and that came as a nice (for want of a better word) surprise. Softening the betrayal blow just a little? Last night during the episode I even saw some people on social media holding the belief that he would refuse to carry out his new orders and would place his loyalty with the NJ crew. I’d like to say I agree, but I don’t – his last scene of the episode with Cooper, being the obvious giveaway. You can see it in his face as she walks away, he’s going to attempt to do as he’s been ordered, despite doubts when Harry first gave him the instruction. Even more of a giveaway for me is the fact that we knew from the moment the season started, when he was revealed as Cooper’s latest beau, that something would happen to him. The reuniting of Tom and Sasha was/is inevitable… and for that to happen something would have to happen to Fletch – betrayal or death, most likely. Besides, as I said last week, the British on US TV shows nearly always end up the bad guys, especially when they’ve only recently been introduced. Overall, do I think he’ll be successful in his new mission? I really can’t decide.
On that note, let me talk about Tom and Sasha, this is probably where my views might differ most from other fans of the show. As a female, I’ve massively enjoyed how Sasha has been portrayed this season. She’s 100% lead the team through all their land-missions and proven that she knows her own mind. She’s independent, strong and not afraid to kick some serious butt. That’s been SO refreshing. Women aren’t always portrayed this way, especially not in military based shows, and the women on this show both in the past and the present know exactly how strong they are. Kara being another example of stepping up and saving lives as a fearless leader. So Sasha’s encounter with Tom last night felt like a let-down, not to mention very similar to occurrences last year. Sasha went to Tom first, and they had a clearly borderline-romantic encounter, foreshadowing what’s to come later in the season. I had hoped that Tom and Sasha’s inevitable reunion might occur with a little more girl power… the Sasha we’ve seen for the past 3/4 weeks would confront Tom about his wrongdoing, and reunite exactly on her own terms. He let her down and she fought through it, she knows her mind, and the way she went to him last night felt like hugely out-of-character writing. I hope I’ll be proven wrong and we’ll see her setting him straight in future episodes, but based on last season, how she switched from a opinionated character to somewhat submissive around Tom after the first kiss, I’m not counting on it. Don’t get me wrong with these thoughts, I ADORE Sasha and I am so grateful for what she portrays, I just feel let down when writers falter their great female characters for the sake of the storyline of the hero-worshipped central male. I’m just tired of women almost always being used as objectified love interests one way or another.
All in all I just want Tom to have to face the consequences for abandoning the crew 16 months ago. Some of it is understandable, he has children whose lives he wants to be a part of, for example, but he didn’t leave as he should’ve done and the way he let Sasha and his colleagues down – he should have to face the consequence. Tom shouldn’t get to just waltz back onto the ship and have his position handed back to him like it’s nothing just because he’s the main character and has lead them through great things in the PAST. He has since wronged them and it’s pretty annoying to see him get away with it so easily. The most Tom had to pay was confrontation from Nolan and some bitterness from other colleagues. That just wasn’t enough for me.
Last nights episode left me disappointed as I’ve established. They attempted to explore characters a little deeper, and in some cases did a nice job, but other nights not so much. Lack of consistency in the writing of characters on TV is something that I often pick up on. I allow it to take away from the episode/show itself, as it eliminates some of that integral belief in the storyline, which is necessary to allow you to get lost in the story and forget that it’s just fiction. I also felt the narrative more difficult to follow. Essentially, it all felt a tad fuzzy this week if I’m entirely honest. Here’s hoping the season I’ve been enjoying so much up until now will feel back on track again in future episodes.