Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades … and thermonuclear weapons.  The climax of last week’s episode of The Last Ship was an attempt by Commander Chandler to shoot down twenty-six sub-launched nuclear missiles aimed at the US, and specifically where the labs working on The Cure were located. The immunes on the British submarine told Patient Zero (“Niels”) that they had already pacified Europe, which in this context looks more grim than it did at first.

The immunes want to wipe out the cure and all of those who recovered from the Red Flu, and they especially want to sink the USS Nathan James. But first, as they said at the end of “Achilles,” they want to take over the US, or what’s left of it after the sub’s nuclear attack. We know Chandler’s family is safe, but we don’t know whether all of the labs are gone. None of them had reported back in after the attack, having been given just a few minutes’ warning to evacuate.

The submarine arc will last at least a couple of more episodes, as will the immunes, as the main antagonists against the Nathan James crew. That means we can expect some tense moments at sea, more of the same dance we saw in last week’s episode. We may also get more insight into Niels and what his game plan is. Why get tied up with the immunes at all? Until now, Patient Zero has seemed more interested in passing along the virus to the people who managed to escape it the first time. I find it interesting, too, that Niels went out of his way to insist that the Russians are dead and gone when he got on the sub, which of course may well be true … but has me wondering.

Left unanswered from last week’s episode: How does one submarine “take America”? And how many more ballistic missiles would they still have? Twenty-six sounds like a lot, and they are way out of position to find replacements. They undoubtedly have plenty of other ordnance, but even so, they’ve almost certainly run through their entire inventory for nuclear weapons.

If you missed last week’s episode, catch up now before the 9 pm ET broadcast of “Long Day’s Journey.” If you still haven’t caught up with Season Two, the show’s YouTube channel has all of the episodes: