I try to live by the adage that if I don’t have anything nice to say about someone, I shouldn’t say anything. Unfortunately, television reviews aren’t always kind and with good reason: sometimes an episode just doesn’t work. As someone who likes watching tv and has no formal training in directing, editing, producing or writing, I hope you’ll take the following opinion with a grain of salt: “Dog Day” is a migraine inducing collision between great writing and mediocre execution.
Truthfully, the first time I watched this episode it gave me such a headache I had to go find my Excedrin. I ended up watching “Dog Day” five times just to pinpoint what irked me the most. I even went back to “Minefield” for comparison. For me, it boils down to jumpy video and bad timing. My biggest complaint is that the camera is rarely steady and there’s never enough time for the eyes to adjust to what is going on in a scene. While this is an intense, action filled show, I missed having some low moments to catch my breath and focus on the dialogue instead of the actors movements.
On the flip side, there is much that is done well. The action sequences push the audience’s adrenaline over and above previous episodes. The scene with Wolf and Green fighting MSS? Whoa! The intensity of their struggle is thrilling. I also love that many of the previously under utilized characters finally get to save the day. Doc Rios and Master Chief Jeter absolutely shine in “Dog Day.” I feel that the dialogue is artfully crafted, and vacillates between revealing new mysteries and making us laugh.
The best mystery of this episode is how the pirates keep killing the crew without anyone catching them. A great show finds new ways to keep the audience guessing and this was one element that had me perplexed. Even when we saw Miller and Rios hiding underground, I didn’t consider the idea of a tunnel system. When Sasha finally uncovers the secret hidey holes, I was thoroughly impressed. Writers Jill Blankenship and Onalee Hunter Hughes gave us a very realistic situation and made Takehaya a masterful adversary.
Wolf & Green
Wolf fights one of the pirates with a machete in a scene that makes me think of swashbucklers from classic musicals. Viewers have had the pleasure of watching Bren Foster use his extraordinary martial arts skills as Wolf, and I think the introduction of a machete to his armory is a cool idea. The problem I have with this fight scene is that there isn’t enough of it. The director cuts too quickly between Wolf, Green and Chandler. I need more time to appreciate the choreography between Bren and his stunt man/pirate. It is hard to see what is happening during the fight and, what was probably really well executed, ended up looking sloppy.
Green has his own issues here too. Drowning a man in a puddle of mud is one of the more violent deaths we’ve seen on the show. I’d put it up there with Neils succumbing to his own infection. I admit that I was shocked by the physicality of this event and wonder if it needed to be so graphic. Regardless, Travis van Winkle makes it look real. The fierce expression he assumes is frightening and made me look at his character in a whole new light.
Told you I was coming for a visit. -Chandler
The reunion between Chandler and Slattery is filled with genuine emotion. It took six episodes for these two valiant friends to find their way back to one another and I, for one, am finally able to breathe a little easier. I had a really hard time with the set up for this third season where Chandler and Slattery were on opposite ends of the planet. I want these two men kicking ass and taking names . . . then sharing a cigar and a joke at the end of the day.
You picked a hell of a vacation spot! -Chandler
Rooms ain’t much. Food’s top notch! -Slattery
Tell Manny and Christopher their uncle was a badass. -Cruz
Okay, dear writers room. I’m climbing on top of my soap box here. What the heck?! You killed Cruz after barely saving him last week? Did he sneak in and steal a bagel or your favorite red pen? *sigh* Just as Cruz was starting to develop into a heroic character, he takes a bullet to the neck and bleeds out. This death hurt me and, to top it off, I don’t love how it plays out.
Ness Bautista, who plays Cruz, dies with dignity and strength, but the scene feels off. It is as if there’s not enough outrage by the other team members. There are a lot of close ups of people’s faces, but not enough anger, frustration and mourning. Remember last season when Ravit dies and we all had to reach for our kleenex? That was a death scene done well. Cruz has been with the show since the beginning and he deserved an epic final farewell. I should have had mascara running down my face over this scene but instead my eyes were dry.
Hey Toshiro. Let me ask you something. Man to man, pre-plague who were you? I mean before you became an asshole. -Slattery
Always asshole. -Toshiro
A man distracting another man while a woman runs off to play her role in their escape plan? If this were a network show, I think it would be Garnett trying to distract Toshiro with her feminine whiles and Slattery running through the forest. “The Last Ship” is tops when it comes to portraying male and female characters in equal light. They also excel at casting characters with diverse ethnicities but we never have to watch gimmicky stereotypes. Everyone gets equal opportunities here and I just wanted to take a moment to say a ‘thank you’ to the writers and producers who make those decisions.
I was on the edge of my seat the whole time Garnett was away from camp. I loved the juxtaposition between the casual conversation Slattery and Toshiro have, and the frightening run in the dark Garnett takes through the woods. I was petrified the patrol would see her at the tower and I loved that she held her breath until they passed. I held my breath too, hoping it would help. Finally, I love the expression on Fay Masterson’s face as Takehaya orders his wife back to bed and Garnett narrowly misses punishment. If you missed it, that’s because we only see it for a moment, but her relief is palpable.
Charles Parnell spreads his wings in this episode and has one of his best moments of the season. During the long march through the bamboo forest to the docks, Diaz frees his hands and the team attacks their captors, allowing for Diaz to run for help. Jeter, weak from ‘donating’ blood, snaps the neck of a pirate with his legs despite having both hands tied behind his back. Ignoring the violence of the action, it was beautifully executed and made me pump my fist in the air. We might expect to see such a move from Wolf or Green, but the Master Chief? Hooyah!
Rios and Miller are stuck underground with Kyoko (Takehaya’s wife) and Toshiro. Plus a few other pirates. When Toshiro and company go to see if the coast is clear, one of the men turns their back to Rios. Miller silently signals to Rios that the pirate has left his weapon unprotected and the doctor shakily reaches out toward it before pulling his hand back.
I call BS! I don’t buy for two milliseconds that the doctor is scared. He’s a navy man first and a doctor second. If anything, his character would seek out opportunities to support their escape efforts, especially knowing that Chandler is so near. Now I would believe that Rios reaches for the gun, looks at Miller hooked up to Kyoko, and decides that the moment is not advantageous for their escape. But fear? Nope, try again. Thankfully the director lets the good doctor redeem himself by killing Toshiro with a pair of scissors.
The camera deliberately focuses in on the scars on Michener’s wrist. If you recall from season two in “Safe Zone,” Michener tried to commit suicide by slitting his wrists. Here, as he discusses his current stressors with Allison Shaw, Michener seems to absentmindedly rub those scars. Allison grabs his hand to stop him, kisses the back of his wrist and we get another view of the angry flesh. What’s the deal? Why are these scars so important that we see them three times? Obviously the writers are trying to clue us into the private relationship between Jeff and Allison, but what else is going on?
Came from one of the regional leaders. You know I can’t say which one. -Barnes
You realize you’re being used, Jacob? Used and manipulated. -Michener
So they’re gunning for you? -Barnes
I thought you said it only came from one. -Michener
Jacob gets his sit down with President Michener, but he doesn’t get the answers he thinks he deserves. He tries to strong arm the president into giving up more information but Michener has learned to navigate media politics adroitly. Instead of giving in, he sets forth an ultimatum: toe the line or get booted from the White House. This is one of my favorite scenes because it allows the actors to covey the intensity of their convictions through their body language. The pace is slower and we can watch the carefully calculated dance these two characters are locked in.
Tell me how you have a raging gun fight and nothing gets shot? The MSS shoot at the crew and there’s no flying debris but the bad guys all die. I’m not complaining that our crew escaped unscathed, but I wanted to shake my television because the fight scene looked fake. If you’re going to have an epic ending with lots of guns then you need collateral damage. I expect shrapnel, and stuff flying through the air.
Speaking of flying through the air, Lt. Carlton Burk looks like an avenging angel when he arrives on the helicopter. From the tactical gear to his fierce expression, Burk saves the day and does so with aplomb. I was a little nervous about the whole “Aim the five inch gun at us and we’ll duck” plan, but I guess it’s not his time to leave the show. Yet.
The final five minutes of “Dog Day” redeem this episode for me. Kyoko’s convincing plea to her husband, Chandler praising Lt. Cameron Burk, Green clutching Cruz’s dog tags, Miler’s splint, Rios putting on his glasses, and Sasha’s introduction to Jeter are simple and beautiful. The weight of each action, and each character’s role in the wrap up is keenly felt by the audience. We get to breath a sigh of relief that the horrors of the past episodes are over and for a moment, there is peace on the Nathan James.
Get some rest. When you’re ready, ship’s yours. -Chandler
Slattery’s grief at the end packs a punch. Our big, bad Captain finally relaxes, and as he does the tragedy of past events weigh heavily upon him. His face is lined with fatigue and his shoulders slump. Adam Baldwin gives a dynamic performance as a broken man, drawing us in with his struggle between confusion and pain. He implores Chandler to tell him who is responsible for the losses they’ve suffered. As the last few seconds play out, Slattery quietly drinks in his surroundings. Will he overcome the guilt he feels about his role in the kidnapping? Or will he be the next character to leave the ship? I guess we’ll find out next week.
Watch on Sunday nights at 9 pm Eastern / 8 pm Central on TNT
Like us on Facebook or Subscribe for instant notice of new posts!
Share this article with our Social Share buttons above
Find more videos at the TNT Youtube channel: TNT
Follow the show on Facebook: TheLastShipTNT
Follow the show on Twitter: @TheLastShipTNT
See official updates and episodes at TNT: The Last Ship