The Last Ship open thread: The lies of the Valkyries

The good news from last week’s episode of The Last Ship: Dr. Scott has found a way to make the cure “contagious,” using Niels’ lung tissue as a source. The bad news: Dr. Scott had to kill Niels to make that work. Or was that the good news? Let’s face it — a man who was responsible for killing 5 billion people in the first wave of the Red Flu and then went out to find new ways to kill most of those left wasn’t exactly a model for redemption, but offing Niels in such an obvious manner doesn’t exactly fit well within the discipline of a US Navy ship operating in an existential global crisis. To paraphrase from Casablanca, this looks like the end of a beautiful friendship between Dr. Scott and Commander Chandler, who promised Dr. Scott that he would bring her to justice when it comes time to settle accounts. On the other hand, if the crew of the Nathan James is the jury pool, good luck getting a conviction. No one seemed particularly unhappy with Patient Zero’s untimely demise and dissection, even after suspicions arose as to the method of his departure and Dr. Scott’s role in expediting it. Sic transit vaingloria, etc.

That, however, is not the worst of Chandler’s problems. He had hoped to get to New Orleans ahead of the Ramseys’ Immunes sub, with the latter dealing with damage to its sound baffling. Unfortunately, they got it fixed a little faster than predicted and managed to arrive in time to use a flotilla of survivors as human shields — and worse. When the Nathan James approached, the sub began blowing up the flotilla and fired four torpedoes at the Nathan James, with one dealing a glancing blow but causing no significant hull damage.

But even that isn’t the worst news. The Immunes managed to edit together videotape of the attack that made it look as though the Nathan James torpedoed the flotilla, and a group called “Valkyrie” broadcasted the video as anti-Navy propaganda. The Valkyries in Germanic lore were female messengers of the gods who determined who lived and died in battle, and rescued the bravest warriors from the pain of death and brought them directly to Valhalla. (In a more modern usage, Valkyrie was the name of the Nazi war plan to protect Germany from a coup, brilliantly but ultimately unsuccessfully exploited by Count von Stauffenberg for his own audacious attempted coup against Hitler.) The propaganda outfit clearly wants to choose the losers in this battle.

They haven’t killed the Nathan James yet, but they may have successfully poisoned the well with this “friendly fire” lie. The ship’s crypto group managed to crack the Immunes’ communications network, but the range of the bluetooth network still has them stumped. One has to wonder whether they can start infiltrating the Immunes’ operations and disrupt their network permanently, but as long as the Immunes control the broadcast stations on land, they may not need the cellphone system.

Tonight’s episode, “Valkyrie,” may shed some light on this. Here’s one question, though: creating the encrypted bluetooth network had to be a very intensive effort, especially the logistics of the thousands of relays needed to make it work. How likely is it that Michener never heard anything about it? He seems to be on board the Nathan James in all senses of the term, but Chandler shot him a look when Michener demurred on knowledge of the communications efforts of the Immunes. In any case, the ship’s crew will eventually have to get their hands on a land-based broadcasting system to start fighting the propaganda war, but that’s too dangerous while the Ramseys’ submarine continues to stalk them. This season will almost certainly come down to a Superdome Thunderdome fight — two ships enter, one ship sinks — before the Nathan James can win back the Big Easy. We’ll know more, starting at 9 ET on TNT.