Post-apocalyptic shows are usually dark and depressing. Considering it is the end of the world as we know it, bleakness in tone is hardly surprising.
The Last Ship, however, has a hopeful streak running through its core.
No matter the scenario, Tom Chandler (Eric Dane) and the crew of the USS Nathan James get through whatever challenges thrown at them, keeping their humanity intact mostly and the US flag flying proudly.
In Season One, 80% of the world population dies from a deadly virus and the ship’s crew is at the forefront of developing a cure and figuring out a way to spread it quickly. And they eventually do just that, thanks to brilliant scientist Dr Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra) who is on board.
Season Two sees the crew returning home to a country they no longer recognise in the aftermath of the virus and yet, they are instrumental in rebuilding what’s left of the nation’s democracy.
In Season Three, they head back out to international waters – Asia to be exact – to continue their quest to spread the cure, only to learn of a new deadly viral threat.
Season Four takes place mainly in and around Greece and the world is gripped by famine because of the “red rust” plant virus sweeping the globe. Chandler and crew come through once again when they are tasked with acquiring precious seeds immune to the virus from an unstable scientist with his own misguided plans for world peace.
The current fifth and final season kicks off three years after the end of the red rust arc with a well-deserved victory lap. There’s peace and the USS Nathan James is not the only ship in the navy as two new vessels join the fleet.
But the joyous celebration is cut short as a new enemy wages war on the US on two fronts, through cyber and aerial attacks, leaving military command unable to get in touch with their forces and the new ships vulnerable to an ambush.
And the body count just grows from here as well-loved characters are killed off and stakes are raised when the enemy – Gustavo Barros (Maurice Compte) leading South American nations under the banner of the Republic of Gran Colombia – amasses troops through fear and intimidation.
Gustavo and his right-hand man Hector Martinez (Rigo Sanchez) are formidable foes for Chandler who has been out of the game the last three years.
The latest fight also presents a new challenge for Chandler and his team as they have to rely on their experience and ability to think outside the box, and not technology, as they face an enemy who is constantly one step ahead of them.
With the US military communications system compromised, the USS Nathan James is basically on its own trying to get Mexico and other South American countries to be their ally while hiding a military ship in plain sight.
It makes for an intriguing cat and mouse game at sea, giving viewers a good idea of what it must be like being alone in unfamiliar territory with no one else to lean on but your fellow crew members and captain. It’s one of the best parts of the show and fascinating, especially for those who enjoyed playing Battleship as a child.
Interestingly, this season also gives viewers a sense of the home life of some of the crew and the impact their time in the navy has had on the family, offering a bit more insight into the characters.
The Last Ship is halfway through its final season now and it already feels like the show intends to go out with a bang.
It remains to be seen who will be left standing in the series finale. It’s war, I get it, but is it too much to ask that no more key crew members die?
It will make for a more satisfying, albeit perhaps less realistic, end to this epic voyage.
The Last Ship airs Mondays at 9pm on WarnerTV (Astro Ch 719/unifi TV Ch 451).