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“Another Fine Navy Day” didn’t have the high stakes of the previous episode and even showed some early signs of a “filler” storyline. To make matters worse, the story featured the only character in the series who tends to swing conveniently with the plot and a nonsensical decision to dive while under influence. Fortunately, before it was too late, “Another Fine Navy Day” was rescued by its elegant structure, by the way it seemed to expand the story, and finally, by the best portrayal of a love triangle I have seen in a long time.
The episode starts 3 hours after a chemical attack and keeps jumping back and forth, following what happened as the attack occurred and what unfolded 3 hours after. The jumps were relatively easy to follow because the XO Sam Kendal was used very early on to ground our notion of timeline. About the chemical attack, it was very convenient to have among the crew someone (the COB) who could recognize the symptoms, and it was even more convenient to get details about the BZ drug from a binder in the NATO outpost, but we are not going to be bothered by such minor details.
What was bothersome was the captain decision to dive even when he realized his crew could not be protected from the effects of the drug, and what was annoying was to see the island crime lord Julian Serrat portrayed as the “traitor” who helped the invaders in, but managed to evade any kind of punishment. The show seems to strengthen or weaken him to accommodate whatever storyline he is involved in, and obviously wants him to stick around to be “useful” that way. Then again, this is ABC, so Last Resort seems to be more of a military soap opera than anything else.
About soap operas, the one thing the episode handled with a master’s touch was the love triangle involving XO Sam Kendal, his wife, and the NATO Frenchwoman Sophie Girard. From the very first time they met, Sam peaked Sophie’s curiosity, and oddly enough, it seemed to be because of his love for his wife. Since then, we have seen a lot of what we have no choice but to label as flirting (with Sophie doing all the work), so we were ready for the next step. Now, if you are a skilled writer who doesn’t want a loving-husband to cheat, how to you navigate the troubled waters? The show used an old trick (mistaken identity), but it used it masterfully by weaving it seamlessly into the fabric of story.
The drugged NATO operator brought up the picture that led Sam to think about his wife even more than usual, and of course one of BZ’s symptoms was vivid hallucination, which proved very useful. It was neat to show the hallucinated goodbye scene (between the Kendals) right at the beginning, effectively setting up the episode to be on a course to catch up with it. The story was also smart enough to give a clue to the viewer: when Sam first fought with the posing crew member in the NATO outpost, he called Sophie by his wife’s name, Christine.
Finally, it was excellent to have Sophie remember everything (because of her epinephrine shot earlier) and have Sam leave the room right after taking his own shot. The scene not only mirrored his goodbye hallucination featuring Christine, but it also made it impossible for him to connect the dots right away, something he would have done if he had snapped out of it with Sophie standing before him, right where a few minutes earlier he kissed his wife. It made sense for Sophie not to fight too much as he kissed her, and the scene with her watching the video of a memory she will be the only one to have was bittersweet. A personal favorite was the rotating shot that started with Christine in the Kendal house and ended in the outpost with Sophie. If a “regular” drama must venture into soap opera plots, this is the way to do it.
Unlike the above excellent love triangle subplot, everything that happened on the sub was of filler-episode level. The story tried to rescued that with the surprising syringe in Captain Chaplin chest and the disappearance of the firing key, but even that was tepid. If you forget the nonsensical decision to dive, there is still the fact that the sub was unmanned for a while (before and after Chaplin got his epinephrine shot). The one storyline (connected to the larger narrative) that was interesting was the one around James King who is trying to piece things together, and is obviously wondering more and more whether Chaplin and Kendal are not the most sensible men among all the power brokers. We now know that the Navy Seals were sent to extract a man and that one of them was given a termination order at the very last minute.
“Another Fine Navy Day” was entertaining, but it wasn’t because of its core storyline which hid too much of itself to be interesting. The episode was worth watching (to some degree) because of its structure, because of the relationship between Kendal and Girard, because of the mystery around the Frenchwoman which is starting to thicken, and because of what role the Seals might have played in Pakistan. However, Washington D.C. seemed too far removed for the episode’s main storyline to have a broader appeal.