Are you watching ABC's new series Last Resort? You should be. It's one of those shows that you need to watch from the beginning (or you'll be mighty confused), but it's worth catching up. It's intelligent, well-acted, and nicely written (if occasionally marred by a cliche or two). Created by Shawn Ryan, it is a tense, taut thriller of a primetime drama. Better than much of what's on network TV these days, Last Resort would be comfortable in a premium cable lineup.
That it's right there on network primetime is a testament to ABC taking a chance on such an intense political drama. Its cast includes the always-magnetic Andre Braugher in the lead role as Captain Marcus Chaplain, commander of the nuclear submarine Colorado.
In Last Resort's near future, the United States has become the world's rogue nation. With its nuclear arsenal, including missile-laden submarines like the Colorado, and a media that is all-too-complicit in exchange for the breaking news of a war to cover, the U.S. had launched a pre-emptive nuclear attack under something called the Bolton Doctrine (wonder if the name suggests a connection to neocon John Bolton?) in the series first episode. The reasons for that are only now beginning to come (slightly) more clear. Although there are calls in congress to remove the president, we are told in this week's episode that he enjoys a 68 percent approval rating.
Apparently, a powerful (very neocon-sounding) faction of politicians, military and arms manufacturers with sufficient power in Washington has conspired to take over U.S. foreign policy. With a desire to reassert U.S. power, this group believes that the country has become militarily weak, no longer the top-of-the-heap superpower it once had been. Triggering a war in the attempt to reshape the geopolitial map of the world, the military had ordered the Colorado to launch its nuclear warheads at Pakistan.
Chaplain, refusing to go along with the illegal, uncofirmed order, has now, along with his senior crew been charged with treason. In this week's episode, a U.S. delegation visits the Colorado's island sanctuary of Sainte Marina to negotiate the surrender of Chaplain and his crew.
New Secretary of Defense William Curry (Jay Karnes), and an old friend of Chaplain's is among the delegation, along with Admiral William Shepard (Bruce Davison), the father of Colorado officer, Lt. Grace Shepard (Daisy Betts). The third member of the delegation is a senior White House advisor, sent as the president's representative.
Not everyone in the goverment supports the goverment and its actions. We know that the original secretary of defense had resigned; but we don't know what has happened to him. Is he in prison? Is he dead? Off on vacation, glad to no longer be involved? Who knows? But we now know that the Joint Chiefs are in chaos with half threatening to resign. Several individuals in and outside the goverment who had been aware of even small fragments of information have been assassinated.