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Last Resort – Cinderella Liberty Review: A Good Showcase of the Show’s Potential

Last week's episode might have stood out for its storylines and the craftsmanship it showcased, but Cinderella Liberty was without a doubt the most gripping episode of Last Resort so far. The best the series has to offer shifted back to Sainte Marina and the open sea with a story that relentlessly plowed ahead, sending viewers and characters through a flurry of emotional reactions to the adrenaline-fueled scenes.

At the heart of the episode was the hostage crisis on the peacekeeping envoy boat headed for Sainte Marina with Colorado crew family members. The delicate situation quickly escalated with the bloody string of killing by one of the hostage takers, Aamir, a resentful Pakistani soldier. Although there are legitimate questions about how the Pakistanis managed to sneak through the U.S. Navy blockade undetected, and although I have my own reservations on the whole largely unsuccessful attempt to paint Admiral Safir as a reasonable fellow, there is no doubt that the hostage crisis took its toll on the viewer and on everyone that cared, from the Colorado crew to Kylie Sinclair back in D.C. It worked because the ruthless killings put the characters under stress, and because the viewers knew they were perpetrated by a man who had some very personal reasons to spill American blood.

Paul and Christine
Throughout the episode, James King's neatly placed flashbacks shed more lights on what happened in Pakistan before his SEAL team was picked up in the series premiere. We already had a quick summary of what went on, but not the details. Now we know the U.S. government (or some part of it) wanted to frame Pakistan to have a reason to go to war. We will ignore the fact that nuclear inspectors don't generally get extracted that way, especially from a country that has nothing to hide, and move on to the second big revelation, which was more relevant to the violence at hand: Aamir brother was killed when the SEALs' order was changed from extraction to termination. Armed with that knowledge, we knew anyone (including Christine Kendal) could be killed by the vengeful Pakistani.

Sam Kendal teaming up with James on the rescue mission dramatically made sense (though I am not sure it did as a military tactic) and was much better than the initial assault by the Pakistanis. Besides the actual progression towards attack positions which was OK, there was the later addition of the threat on Christine's life which ratcheted up the suspense. The episode was well-inspired to get Sam to raise the issue of the missing memory cards (from the SEALs' helmet-cameras) as the group prepared for the rescue. It gave James enough time to deal with his buddy and mull over the part of the events in Karachi that involved the infamous cameras.

Sam was introduced to the cameras and their memory cards by Kylie Sinclair in an extremely well-written and flawlessly executed scene. It lasted about one minute but Sinclair's assertive tone, her succinct but clear explanations, and her body language turned a scene designed to pass information into a personal favorite. From the unexpected arrival of the audio signal (through the sonar arrays) to how she got the trust issue out of the way, and even her pacing and gesturing while talking, the scene stood out. The non-verbal communication around the headphones from Sophie to Sam and then from Sam to Chaplin were as natural as these things can be, and finally, Sophie repeating the obvious (about Sam's wife being only a few hours away) with a faint smile also enhanced a quick but remarkable scene that involved the best actors in the series. Kylie Sinclair's later appearance at the family party (where she felt like an outcast) shed more light on a character that is being brought to life much better than others.

Kylie Sinclair
Another person who has had some difficulties fitting in is LT. Grace Shepard, again caught in the crossfire here. When the Pakistani attack took everyone on Sainte Marina by surprise, Cortez was quick to realize that Chaplin might need his firing key, but she wasn't very quick in handing it back to him. The episode did a good job using the string of killing to force Cortez's hand while allowing the viewers to understand what she was going through. Unfortunately for Grace, she was the ideal delivery person.

Aside from the lame attempt to make us understand Admiral Safir, the only other weak point of the episode was everything that happened between Paul and Christine before he was shot. For two episodes now, the man's gullibility has been appalling and a bit unrealistic. Also, being an attorney of the U.S. government is unlikely to provide the sort of power required to influence events like these. That being said, no weak point in Last Resort can top an appearance by Serrat (the island petit criminal). His absence from the episode was a very good thing.

Even if there are still a few questions on the politics of Last Resort's world where the U.S. has an extremely hawkish foreign policy, Cinderella Liberty seems to have made great leaps ahead. The episode's intensity and the way it pushed the story forward were somewhat uncharacteristic. So much so that it makes one wonder if by the time it went into production the showrunners were not already aware of the fate of the series.



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