The Last Ship open thread: The Missing Man table gets serious

This ain’t Star Trek: The Original Series, folks — it’s not just the redshirts that are at risk in war. Last week’s episode, “Valkyrie,” featured an explosive plot twist that sent two significant cast members into the KIA column. Lt. Andy Chung (Andy Tran) and Lt. Ravit Bivas (Inbar Lavi) bid farewell to the USS Nathan James after getting mortally wounded in action at an oil rig off of New Orleans, along with two other crew members. That leaves Lt. Carlton Burk and the rest of the crew grieving over their loss, and dealt with it by giving them tribute through a Missing Man Table ritual.

Initially it seemed as if the Ramsey brothers and their Immunes had decided to sacrifice their network to get a chance at killing Chandler. We found out at the end that the Ramseys were just as surprised as the away team from the ship by the attack. The perpetrators were ordinary residents enraged by the Ramseys’ propaganda blaming the Nathan James for sinking the civilian ships, and Sean Ramsey couldn’t be more delighted that Americans now blame Chandler and the US Navy for the Red Flu.

On the plus side, Chandler captured “Valkyrie,” a survivor named Val who helped set up the Ramseys’ network on the oil rig. She had been a conspiracy theorist before the Ramseys, and they fed her enough to keep her running their system. Now that she’s on board, Val seems to have had a change of heart, not dissimilar to that of President Jeff Michener. After thanking Chandler for coming back to save her, Chandler tells Val it wasn’t out of the kindness of his heart. “Whatever was in that bag,” he asks, “can it help us?” Chandler has to find a way to fight the Ramseys’ propaganda, but with the oil rig blown up the best platform for that — the Ramseys’ own network — seems out of reach. Or is it?

After promising to send Dr. Rachel Scott up the river in the previous episode for killing off “Patient Zero” Niels, Chandler might have to eat some crow. After digging a couple of rounds out of her suitor Tex’s gluteus maximus after a rapid retreat from the shore, Scott realized that Chandler’s wounds were much more serious than first thought. He refused further surgery to get the shrapnel out, but seemed to come to terms with Scott’s “stubbornness” and her ability to do good on the ship. Will the friendship be rekindled?

We may find out in tonight’s “Cry Havoc” episode, starting at 9 ET on TNT. This is the second-to-last episode in Season 2, and we are clearly heading to a confrontation with the Ramseys. The Nathan James and the submarine are within sight of each other, which means that it won’t be long before one or the other goes on permanent deep dive. My bet’s on the Nathan James to win the battle, seeing as how the show’s been picked up for Season 3, but the writers seem willing to kill off some well-regarded characters. Why not a ship? After all … there are other ships, no?

While we all mull that unsettling thought, think about what a penultimate episode has to set up, and the escalating action over the last few weeks. I predict a lot of action and one heck of a cliffhanger for tonight … and maybe the same for next week, too. I’d also bet that XO Slattery leads the expeditionary teams for a while, thanks to the shrapnel lodged in Chandler’s abdomen, and that means our friend Adam Baldwin would get to kick some butt. Stay tuned for that — and next week, both Adam and I intend to have the long-awaited interview about the finale, Season 3, and life aboard the Nathan James.