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“Damn the Torpedoes” was not so much about the single torpedo that was fired or even the events leading up to the firing as it was about making choices. Whether stemming from a sense of righteousness, love, patriotism or the pursuit of happiness, those choices turned the episode into a much better story than it deserved to be.
When Chaplin realized that China would get some credit and moral high ground no matter the outcome of the situation with the supply ship, he understandably thought the best outcome for him would be to secure the supplies for the island. Sent to prevent the ship from reaching the island, the captain of the destroyer sounded like he admired the captain of the USS Colorado, which turned out to be annoying because it felt as if he was there to remind us ofChaplin’s accomplishments. Fortunately for us, things got better when the rebellious captain dealt with the ladies in his life.
Lt. Grace Shepard has had her share of issues with Chaplin who obviously doesn’t trust her a much as she would like him to. If we forget how lucky we were to find onboard the sub a Navy SEAL who knew how to rig a torpedo and could do that under pressure while chit chatting about human nature, it should be said that the episode and Grace stopped Chaplin’s fury in a way that deserves to be mentioned. When his lieutenant told him that she had delayed the torpedo launch to help him because he is “sailing in some unchartered waters,” Chaplin — who previously looked as if he was about to eat her for lunch — seemed to doubt his sense of righteousness or at least to wonder about Grace.
Later in his cabin, he welcomed Cortez, the CIA spy, and read a passage of the bible about the hard choice facing the righteous against the many, as if he was expecting her. I would have preferred for the story to show more signs of the captain piecing things together about Cortez, but in the end, by the sheer force of Andre Braugher’s work (and maybe the orchestral music and those tears on Cortez’s cheek), the scene worked. To be fair, I should add that Jessica Camacho who plays Cortez delivered her best work in the series to date, but Braugher’s performance in that scene as well as in the one with Lt. Shepard helped push away the inconsistencies around his character for a few minutes and grounded the episode around the theme of choices.
While all the above was happening, the grieving XO managed to be needlessly rude with Sophie and to join a mutiny. The relationship between Sophie and Sam is one that Last Resort always treats with care, even if the actors do not always rise to the occasion. As a loving and grieving husband, Sam lashed out at Sophie because he felt guilty to be attracted to her, especially given the circumstances, and the Frenchwoman’s speech about not being afraid of a messy relationship had all the charms of melancholy. The statement also had the added benefit of being echoed by another event during the hour. Serrat, the island crime lord and self-professed “mayor” generally ruins every scene he appears in because he is typically used to accommodate the plot in a tasteless way, but here, his partnership with Sophie seemed to fit very well in the young woman’s messy relationships, one that might require someone like Sam to come to the rescue. The XO being drawn to the mutiny also made sense because even before his wife’s “death”, for several episodes now, we’ve seen him questioning some of the choices made by Chaplin and seemingly considering jumping ship.
Meanwhile, Kylie Sinclair joined a bunch of her high-profile friends in Washington D.C., including the Speaker of the House of Representative in a plot against the President, a coup d’état. As much as I liked miss Sinclair’s assertive and sassy presentation as well as the almost palpable tension in the room, the punishment (the coup) seemed a bit disproportionate for the crime (the hawkish foreign policy), especially when in the real world we know that the war in Iraq was waged under false pretenses.
Aside from a few things already mentioned above and others like Mr. Zheng peering through a vial as if he was a human microscope, Serrat trying to negotiate with a whole country, or even the world of Last Resort failing to make us believe that a coup can happen in the U.S. just because the President plays the game of power, “Damn the Torpedoes” was a much better episode than the previous one. That is mainly because the choices made by the characters glued the action together much better than in the last episode. Marcus Chaplin’s larger than life sense of righteousness was shaken to some degree, Cortez chose to stand by the man she loves, Lt. Shepard chose to try and prove herself to the captain who doesn’t trust her, the XO chose the murky depth of mutiny, and Sophie remained ambiguous in her choice, like a true troubled seductress.