With the explosive power of executive producer Michael Bay (Transformers, Armageddon) and the star power of lead actor Eric Dane (Grey’s Anatomy), The Last Ship has been an exciting, suspenseful hit for TNT. In case you’ve been spending your Sunday nights in Vinci, CA this summer, don’t worry: you can still catch up in time for the September 6 season finale. All of season 2 is available On Demand, but if you don’t have time to cram in all 11 episodes, here’s a quick recap.
After spending all of season 1 developing a vaccine for the virus that wiped out 80% of humanity, season 2 found the crew of the USS Nathan James, which had avoided exposure to the virus by being in the Arctic at the time of the pandemic, racing to recapture the hard-won cure after it was stolen when the crew arrived on land to try and spread it to anyone who might be uninfected.
After reclaiming the vaccine and setting sail again, the Nathan James found a submarine manned by a group of people with natural immunity to the virus calling themselves… wait for it… the Immunes. Instead of joining the cause to find a cure, the Immunes –led by a man named Ramsey – are operating against it with a Darwinist mindset: Those not strong enough to survive the cure, shouldn’t.
During the first half of the season, the President of the United States – who became President by default after the President-elect and all other cabinet members died from the virus – was shacked up with the Immunes. The President and an Immune by the name of Niels were seized by the Nathan James‘ crew, who worked to convince the President that they, not the Immunes, are the good guys. POTUS seems like a good guy, particularly since we learned that he doesn’t know the Immunes are deliberately spreading the virus.
Niels was definitely not a good guy: He made himself into a biological weapon that killed five billion people by carrying the virus while his fancy genetics kept him from dying. (The entire crew of the Nathan James has been injected with the vaccine, so they cannot catch the virus from Niels or anyone else. Phew!) Dr. Rachel Scott – who created the cure – tested Niels’ body to research the virus, then found a way to rip Niels' genetic link (the thing that makes him immune) from the virus and he quickly died. Normally, this would have been time for cheers and applause, but it seems to have put Captain Chandler (Eric Dane) in a bit of a pickle. We’ll come back to that.
Because Dr. Scott is a genius, she took what she learned from breaking Niels' genetic link and created a version of the vaccine that can be spread through swapping germs, just like the virus. This is a major breakthrough – and it would be great if contagious vaccines were a thing in real life – but if Rachel dies before she can spread it to others who are infected, they’re back to the regular, very vulnerable cure.
Which brings us back to the pickle Captain Chandler is in. After Dr. Scott tells him she has created a contagious cure, she confesses to killing Niels on purpose. “Murdered” is another word for that, and Chandler makes it very clear that she will pay for her crimes once the Nathan James reaches land. Niels' death becomes a problem for Capt. Chandler when the Nathan James is engaged in a missile battle with the Immunes off the coast of New Orleans: Basically, the Immunes blew up the New Orleans coast, filmed the whole thing, and edited the footage to look as though the Nathan James fired the shots and leaked it via Bluetooth to smartphones across the nation. Now, everyone thinks the good guys are the bad guys and the good guys don’t have Niels to prove their true intentions. Bummer.
The Immunes continue to blow up civilian phones with more lies through a network called “Valkyrie”. The American people start to turn on the Navy, and in response, the President records a video to dispute the lies and win back what’s left of the country. Capt. Chandler and a small team set out on a mission to broadcast the messages across Valkyrie. By following the signal, they find an isolated oil rig manned by the creator of Valkyrie, a young woman named Val. She says Ramsey (the leader of the Immunes) has told her about the Navy trying to spread the virus to create a new world order. Surprise, surprise.
Meanwhile, civilians flip after hearing Ramsey’s new message and the rig is attacked. Lives are lost and the network is destroyed. A helicopter saves Capt. Chandler, Val, and most of his crew. After realizing Capt. Chandler saved her instead of some of his own team, Val decides to help.
With a target on their backs, Val’s uses her nifty computer to hack into the network, which she can conveniently still access despite it being obliterated. A message is sent to civilian phones as well as the Immunes with false information about the Nathan James' location. While the angry civilians are occupied, barricades that were blocking the ship open up and a chance to creep up on the submarine from which Ramsey is operating is presented. Capt. Chandler decides he can’t risk losing the President and Dr. Scott and orders them off the ship to a remote land location under the protection of his best men.
After the ground team sets up camp, Dr. Scott notices an infected man, woman, and child walking by. She risks her life – and everyone with her – to cure them and essentially start the contagion. For helping them, the civilians tell the soldiers about a land-based missile launcher that could sink the Nathan James. In fear of giving away the ships real location, the ground team decides not to warn them but send a few of their own to find it on foot.
By the time Ramsey realizes Val has switched teams, the Nathan James has stopped directly above the submarine. This is both good and bad: Good because the submarine can’t attack and bad because the Nathan James can’t attack, either. The sub takes off to gain space to launch torpedoes, but the ship fires first. Before they were hit, the Immunes launch their attack, striking the Nathan James, causing the artillery room to flood. Now, the ship is only left with four weapons to win the battle. Due to flooding and damage, the submarine is forced to surface.
Meanwhile, three of the sailors on land search for the secret weapon. They find it and battle it out with a similarly small team of Immunes for control. As the sub surfaces and the Nathan James is about fire off their last four weapons, the sailors launch the secret weapon, hitting the submarine. As the sub slowly drifts to the ocean depths, we are left with Ramsey lying next to his brother, screaming as he realizes he’s dead.
With the season 2 finale in a few days, there are a lot of questions to be answered. Are we absolutely certain the cure worked? If so, will the President give Dr. Scott a formal pardon for murdering the worst human ever? Will Ramsey find a way off his sinking vessel? Can the Navy win back America’s trust? Will they trust them to try the cure? As we’ve mentioned, the series was picked up for a third season, so the only question that matters right now is: What kind of devastating cliffhanger will we be forced into at the end of season two?
Watch the season finale of The Last Ship at 9pm on Sunday, September 6 on TNT or catch it On Demand the following week.