We had a lot of balls in the air coming into the Last-est Resort ever, and damn if we didn’t hit the ground running with multiple mutinies, reversals, and machine gun battles. By the time the opening titles roll, Marcus and Sam have both been locked up and at each others throats, Hopper has collected Christine from captivity, Serrat has helped Zheng seize the island, Sophie has started her own counter-mutiny in response, and the COB has been deposed, shanked with a screwdriver and forced to team up with Grace. Did I miss anything? Oh yes, the Chinese fleet is bearing down to take the Colorado for itself.
The finale, as it should be, is the biggest, fastest and best episode of the year, and a worthy send-off for a good if uneven show. It’s not like you could’ve made the entire series this intense and action-packed at all times without it becoming simply exhausting, but as a finale it’s wonderfully balls-out in how it cranks every storyline (with one predictable, at this point just amusing, exception) up to 11.
Starting with one of the lesser characters, Kylie’s storyline feels like something that would’ve played much better with at least a ninety minute timeslot, if not a full back nine order. The dastardly test of loyalty the president puts her to is about 7x as compelling as anything with her that’s come before, and makes her climactic kamikaze assassination (I have to assume she didn’t walk out of that room) feel a least partly satisfying if still undercooked. It probably would’ve been more affecting if I remembered exactly what the deal with her sorta-boyfriend was; I could’ve sworn that it was revealed recently that one of them was just using the other throughout the relationship.
And of course, over in the worst part of the show, Chad and Barbie have some…I don’t know, thing. It was apparently quite emotional and redemptive or something. Because she didn’t want him to be a killer anymore, see, which is apparently an aspect of his character that both of them have had an issue with? That doesn’t sound right. I’m as lost as the rest of you on this one, really.
To round out the spottier threads, Sophie’s role in thwarting the Chinese feels a bit abrupt, and I’m not really sure why they didn’t just shoot her at any given point in the episode, but I’m putting it down to Serrat’s influence, even if I’m note sure why the Chinese would be deferring to him once the operation is underway. He himself doesn’t get a real comeuppance despite remaining a villain to the end, in one of the weirder gaps in the episode . I’m not sure that extra time tonight would’ve helped both the characters, as it seems clear that Sophie’s affair with Sam would’ve taken up much of the back half of the season, but with Christine being ransomed by a teleporting Hopper, there was no time for any of that to play out. Likewise the whole precious mineral storyline didn’t get a chance to play out, so while having his big plan fall apart could’ve potentially played as a crushing blow to Julian, he’s just sort of left hanging, a character whose role never quite lived up to the actor’s performance.
The best stuff, as always, revolved around the military action, and the ten episodes worth of alliance shifts crammed into 43 minutes. Sure, this stuff sometimes toed the line between “breathlessly paced” and just plain rushed, but it was exciting and appropriately climactic. It actually felt a little more believable by being a bit narratively sloppy, as things unraveled quickly and chaotically rather than in a methodically scripted fashion (talking about feel here, I know it was all constructed by professionals).
The best result of the rush was how quickly Chaplin murders Anders when the chance arises. In a 22 episode season, an episode would’ve climaxed with a dramatic face-to-face confrontation between the two and a righteous verbal smackdown, but in this turbocharged finale, he isn’t even granted the dignity of dying with an Andre Braugher monologue ringing in his ears, and I dug that. The worst result of the rush, incidentally, was that Cortez didn’t get anything to do in the end. I hope I start seeing Jessica Camacho in more stuff now.
What is also great is that amongst all this breakneckin’, they pick the right scenes to let breathe, giving over hotly-contested screentime to exploring and repairing the most important relationship on the show, that between Sam and Marcus. Obviously Braugher is the titan around which the rest of the cast revolves, but he has proven especially great at pulling the best out of Speedman, who tended to flounder in more generic soapy territory when stuck with other characters. The two men’s arguments were the definite highlights of the series as well as the finale, and helped prevent the show’s conceit from becoming reducible to “all this would be resolved if everyone just stopped persecuting St. Marcus,” which would be an easy thing to do when you have such an overpowering lead.
It wasn’t nuclear armageddon (and really there is no substitute for nuclear armageddon), but it was a definitive ending. Marcus going down with the ship was, short of scorching the whole earth, the only way to really end things. I like to see a show that’s being cut down early blow itself up at the end rather than hedging on the hopes of some miraculous pick up from another network or movie sequel or comic book or whatever. Last Resort may not have gone out fully on its own terms, but it went out in style.
Obviously there weren’t a lot of us watching, but I want to thank every individual who followed along and read my blather about dramatic stakes and hacky digs at pretty people tasked with playing desperate folk. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be back at the end of March to rap at ya about Game Of Thrones, a show I have much more affection for and things to say about. Over and out.