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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mission First

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Well, "The Last Ship" brought me to one of those moments of deep disatisfaction.

I am sorry, but the correct answer was to leave.

Yes, I know it is morally wrong to leave the girl, and her people, to the less than tender mercies of "El Toro." And, yes, commanders on the spot have to make decisions without guidance from higher.

However, the captain risked everything, at least as far as he knew.

He knows that the Russians wanted his research and researchers, but he does not know if there are other teams out there also working on the project who have not yet been overcome. (Not enough background to know, I mean there could be a Chinese team out there, or an Argentinian team or what not, and maybe the arrived to collect samples in the cold after he and the Russians left.) It is implied by the show's background that his ship and the Russian ship are all there is, but in all honesty the writers could at any time write in another research team somewhere. It is a big planet after all.

Even so, the Captain does not know this.

So he risks himself and his executive officer on a Quixotic operation to bring justice and save the girl. Does he really believe that there is anyone else on his ship holding them all together and on task? His researcher needs the monkeys, and he is risking them not getting to her.

This is a "fate of humanity" moment, and the show would (I admit) probably bomb if they had not saved the girl, but I at least would have profoundly respected the choice to save humanity first.

Now, I might have taken the monkeys to the ship and then returned with landing party, but only "might." I only have so many crewmen, and I have a ship that I have to keep running somehow, which leaves me very few people I can afford to have killed while I am playing Don Quixote. How many men might I lose to those booby traps they had planted (and was it not amazing that in their three man night attack they did not trip over a single one of them)?

Yes, our three stalwart heroes easily won the fight (such as it was), but only one of them was a highly trained ground combatant, and the result of there one-to-four odds attack starting with no weapons was unlikely in the extreme.

It was, however, the wrong answer and the wrong choice no matter how "moral" it was and how much it made all the writers feel good about how "our hearts are pure so our strength is the strength of a hundred men" resolution.

More likely El Toro's boys would have been the best fighters he had in running his gang before the collapse, and on their own ground (since they have been there a while) would have been able to at least inflict casualties on our heroes before they died.