I'm still enjoying the heck out of Last Resort, the show about a submarine docked on a small island after a nuclear holocaust. And it's becoming even clearer that this show at least aims to address the same core question as George R.R. Martin goes into in his Song of Ice and Fire books and TV series. Where does authority come from? What makes you obey the orders of kings and generals?
The chain of command is a sturdy thing — as long as every link remains intact. Break even one link in the chain, though, and the integrity of the whole thing comes into question. So when Marcus Chaplain disobeys a direct order from Washington, and effectively goes AWOL, do his men still have to obey him? Where does Marcus' authority come from, if not the government he serves?
That's not a question that this show can answer in one episode — and I'm guessing we're going to keep seeing variations of it, week after week. This time around, Marcus is still dealing with the fallout from the T-1000 turning against him last week. He's locked the T-1000 in a cell, but the men guarding the T-1000 aren't entirely loyal, and when Sam and Grace go off to fight an incursion of Special Forces (who turn out to be Russians, not Americans), those two men tag along and scheme to shoot Grace in the confusion.
Marcus has to reassert his authority twice in this episode — once when his troops have returned with two Russian prisoners, and want to execute them. He makes it simple, as you can see in the clip above: they're still American sailors, and they still follow the rules. They salute the person above them and get saluted by the person below them, and when the captain says jump, they ask how high. And then the T-1000 makes a bid to undermine Marcus again, revealing that Marcus' son died by friendly fire in Afghanistan just two weeks ago and maybe Marcus is just looking for payback against the United States. To that, Marcus only responds: "You know me." As if knowing what sort of man Marcus is will give him legitimacy as a commander.
Elsewhere, the T-1000 says that the uniforms these men are wearing are just "borrowed glory," and they're basically just doing naval officer cosplay. As if in response, Chaplin and his officers raise an American flag to show that they're still part of the U.S. military, even if they're at odds with their leaders right now.
And meanwhile, Grace is dealing with multiple challenges to her authority as a lieutenant — people already thought she only attained that rank because her father's an admiral, and some of her men already didn't respect her because she's a woman. But now, she's also shot one of her own men as he was attempting to mutiny against the XO. (Although Nutella Girl helpfully points out that everybody would be dead if Grace hadn't done that.)
It gets bad enough that Grace asks Sam to relieve her, and he refuses to do that — saying that they're all basically on the edge of falling apart, and it's up to her to show that she's still in charge. She needs to figure out how to do that immediately, so the men under her will keep following her. Luckily, she gets caught in a huge clusterfuck when Sam decides to try and parlay with some Russian attackers by saying "We're all Americans," and nearly gets everybody killed. Grace winds up winning a bit more respect by fighting the Russians hand to hand, but she's still facing an uphill battle.
Of course you could always receive authority direct from the source (however dubious), as James King does when the barmaid (Dichen Lachman) anoints him with a face swoosh and tells him that in her island traditions, that means it's his responsibility to heal all of the divisions and make peace between brothers, or something. Fortified by his magic Nike symbol, James goes off and kills a bunch of Russians, thus proving, as he puts it, that "I've run out of people to kill."
Meanwhile, back in D.C., the feds try to break Sam's wife Christine (Karen from Falling Skies!) but it doesn't work out that well at first — she tells Sam not to trust the feds, or believe anything she says from here on out. So they show Christine a video of Sam talking about being a POW in North Korea, an incident he never told his wife about. They leave out the part of the video where explains that he won't tell his wife about this because he doesn't want to lose her — and hope that the result will tarnish him a little in her eyes. Then they assign an old "friend" of Sam's to discredit her husband further in her eyes, because destroying her faith and love are the only way to be able to use her as a weapon.
Also, the U.S.S. Colorado uses its next-gen cloaking device when U.S. warships invade the perimeter around the island. And it works great, to the point where the Indiana doesn't even see the Colorado when they're right next to each other. Afterwards, though, the creator of that cloaking device realizes the feds are probably going to steal it from her, unless she proves what's been going on. So she blackmails her nebbishy DoD mole into giving her the info on the secret order that saw the Indiana shooting down the Colorado, an act which was blamed on the Pakistanis. Too bad it costs her source his life.
So far, this show is still feeling pretty fun and interesting — it's definitely at its best whenever Andre Braugher is on screen being badass and making people respect his authority. They could rename this show The Andre Braugher Swagger Hour and I would watch every episode five times. But also — apart from the central question of "What are the ramifications of nuking Pakistan, people?" — the biggest and most interesting question on this show is, "Why do people keep following a commanding officer who's disobeyed orders from his higher ups?" And as long as the show finds new ways to keep asking and answering that question, I'll keep watching.