You either love Michael Bay productions or you hate them.
Lucky for you (and me) I happen to love his over-the-top sense of adventure -- and The Last Ship Season 1 Episode 1 brings to life the end of the world and the hope for survival aboard a Naval destroyer.
Eric Dane is Commander Chandler -- the man who will keep everyone safe -- and Rhona Mitra is Rachel, the paleomicrobiologist who can create a vaccine to save what remains after 80% of the world's population succumbs to a virulent strain of a mutated virus.
The Last Ship aims big and, in the first hour, it delivers.
Chandler starts out thinking he's conducting training maneuvers and is out of radio contact for reasons related to their mission. Rachel is on board because there wasn't another vessel big enough to accommodate her lab facility and is merely along for the ride. Or not.
When helicopters arrive in the arctic shooting at Rachel and the sailors who were transporting her and her fellow "virologist," the Russians who are brought back to the USS Nathan James are looking for the cure. Something is amiss!
When Chandler gets the full story, he reaches out to the government who sent him and is told their mission has been extended and when the POTUS finally gets on the SAT screen, it's the former Speaker of the House. The President is dead. It's going down very fast, but since Rachel can create a vaccine, they're asked to return home immediately to start production.
The closer they get to their destination, the less likely it is that they will be staying. Watching a news broadcast, they see chaos. Governments have crumbled; there is nobody in charge of many countries, including Russia. When a nuclear warhead comes straight at them -- only to overshoot and explode over France -- they lose power. They need fuel and food to go home, but no way to get it.
An Italian cruise liner in the distance offers hope. They board to get fuel and food. The dead are everywhere. There's no meat in the freezer unless you're counting dead bodies. One sailor trips over a body, loses his hazmat helmet and is immediately contaminated with the virus. He takes his life right there.
It's not going to be an easy ride. The closer they get to home, some learn of the fate of their families. Others reach no one. Chandler's wife and children are safe according to a message five days old, so that could kill any hopes for McSteamy to be born from the captain as he floats at sea with the beautiful scientist.
XO Slattery's (Adam Baldwin) family is also safe. Any romantic notions will have to come from the crew. We didn't learn much about the crew other than their dedication to their mission and their commander. They are in good hands and good spirits, considering, even after they learn they will stay at sea because it's the safest place they know to create the vaccine.
I don't know where the series will go from here, but if there's one ship floating about, there are sure to be others. In a dog-eat-dog end-of-world scenario everyone will want the cure. If they find out it's on the USS Nathan James, all sorts will be gunning for them, even if their own mission is to create a vaccine to save all, not just the US.
The Russians will know about the cure fairly soon, as the fellow assisting Rachel made a call in his native tongue to alert someone they wouldn't be hitting the shores of the US as anticipated and he was unsure of what move to make next. Since Rachel said the virus had mutated and was possibly weaponized, the total destruction of the planet may have been planned.
There was thrilling action and filming on actual Naval destroyers thanks to the participation of the US Navy and that lent some realism to events. During the first hour, the ship didn't feel limiting, but rather exciting. They can be on the move to stay safe. They can visit exotic locations and and take short trips to land or aboard other vessels.
My attention was never unfocused on the story and it felt as if I was watching a feature film rather than a TV show. That all bodes well for holding interest going forward. What did you think? Give it a grade and hit the comments with your thoughts.
Grade The Last Ship premiere:
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.