'Last Resort' Breakdown: Shawn Ryan Dissects Impact of Treason Charge, Threat of PR Wars
In a weekly chat with THR, the executive producer weighs in on the aftermath of Thursday's "Voluntold," hinting that Sam and Marcus will go through another crucial test and two people who haven't crossed paths, will.
[Warning: Major spoilers ahead from Thursday's episode.]
Not everyone's happy on the USS Colorado.
The latest episode of Last Resort finds Capt. Marcus Chaplin's (Andre Braugher) life in danger, when the Secretary of Defense orders crewmembers to hijack the vessel and bring it back to U.S. waters. It's a development that causes ripples among the crew, as Josh -- who, in the previous episode, sacrificed Red to save his own life -- nearly goes through with grenading the Colorado. The situation in Sainte Marina also is thrust into the limelight as a public breakdown, captured on national television, by one crewmember's significant other throws a wrench into the government's plans.
Here, executive producer Shawn Ryan breaks down the biggest moments from Thursday's episode, "Voluntold" -- including his thoughts on the show's ratings performance -- with The Hollywood Reporter in the second installment of weekly Last Resort postmortems conducted with fellow EP Karl Gajdusek.
The Hollywood Reporter: It seems like people are starting to break down.
Shawn Ryan: [Laughs] It’s a tense situation. It’s hard to keep everyone in line.
THR: Especially Josh, who’s deeply affected by Red’s death in last week’s episode. How he decides to deal with it is by following the Secretary of Defense’s orders to take Marcus out.
Ryan: He’s someone who’s gone through a tremendously traumatic experience and is searching for a way to assuage his guilt. He feels responsible for Red’s death. At least momentarily, he begins to believe there’s a way to make up or it by hijacking the sub and returning it to the U.S. Navy, but this is something he’s ultimately confused and torn about as well.
THR: Is this going to be a continuing problem?
Ryan: There’s definitely going to be friction on the boat in terms of people who think what Marcus and Sam did in the pilot episode was right and those who don’t necessarily agree with it. Even if they do agree with it, they don’t want to be stuck on this island and be pawns in someone else’s global political game. This is something that they all have to make their own decisions about and this is something that will, going forward, continue to strain Marcus and Sam[‘s relationship]; the fact that it’s hard to get an entire sub on board with what they’re trying to do.
THR: There was some dissention among the crewmembers, most notably Chief Engineer Anders (guest star Michael Mosley). Will he be someone that may be causing more trouble down the line?
Ryan: [Laughs] He causes some problems going forward. He’s the engineer who would like to sign up for the “go” list but who’s too valuable to allow to leave. Marcus makes a comment earlier in the episode that if we can’t trust these people to stay, then what can we do? That’s generally true; he’s looking for a volunteer crew that he can believe and trust. Here’s a person who becomes more a conscript than a volunteer, and any time you’re forcing someone to do something against their will, those people are going to look for ways to cause you problems. That is something we’ll deal with moving forward.
THR: As the episodes unfold, there seems to be bigger schisms forming – in regards to the trust between Marcus and Sam – that one would assume will lead to something bigger and maybe more cataclysmic. Is that where it's headed?
Ryan: They are certainly at this point united. They agree on goals, but disagree on strategy. This will be an ongoing thing, seeing Marcus in charge through Sam’s eyes and how he feels about it. The stakes for getting home are different for the two men. Marcus really is alone in the world and Sam’s not. In the next episode, those differing motivations are brought into stark relief opposite each other. It’s not necessarily that these two men will be pitted against each other, but in times of crisis and in times of stress, they’re going to have different opinions and different approaches about what best to do.
THR: Will there be a situation that arises in coming weeks where that may be the case?
Ryan: In the next episode, they get the opportunity to try to negotiate their way out of this. A visiting delegation comes through the island and Sam and Marcus very much begin to have differing opinions on how best to approach that, so that’s definitely something that comes up in the next episode.
THR: Sam and Marcus have also been indicted for treason. That clearly will be a big obstacle they’ll be forced to overcome as the D.C. and island worlds begin to come together.
Ryan: [Laughs] It makes it much more difficult to go home, at least without getting thrown into a dark, dank cell. It really ups the PR war against them in many ways and increases the pressure on Christine, Sam’s wife back home, and also Kylie, who’s trying to find out the truth about what happened and what’s going on in the administration. These indictments are definitely big salvos in the PR war that will make Christine and Kylie’s lives more difficult.
THR: We saw Christine have a nervous breakdown – with a bat, no less – on national TV. What does this mean for her now that she’s become front and center?
Ryan: It makes her much more of a public figure. She was someone who was acting out very organically. We all know the power of TV cameras. That's a double-edged sword. It can open up doors for her but it could also make things complicated. One of the biggest things though is it puts her on Kylie's radar at the end of the episode. It won't be long before those two come into the same orbit.
THR: How will they connect?
Ryan: It happens in the next episode. Kylie, now aware of Christine, seeks her out.
THR: It also appears that Sam could be swayed to stay on the island, after Sophie hints at the end of the episode that there's something more there for him. Fair enough to say she's also referring to herself?
Ryan: She did these soil tests and we see that she lies to Serrat about what they contained. She's talking about the island, but subtextually, she's talking about more than that: herself and life there. I think she's beginning to have feelings -- whether you call them romantic or platonic or emotional -- towards Sam. She's someone who is beginning to have a connection with him. In many ways, it's a forbidden thing because he's married and trying to get home to his wife, but that is a charged scene in the end that implies that life would be worth living here, literally and metaphorically.
THR: Even Serrat picked up on Sophie's attraction to Sam when he was watching his video message to Christine.
Ryan: Yeah, that Sam wasn't talking about her. Serrat's a smart dude and with feelings of his own towards Sophie, he can see Sophie falling for this man.
THR: James and Tani continued to strengthen their connection in this episode, but James' fight is telling as to how he's dealing with his situation. What can you say about his inner turmoil?
Ryan: Grace puts in James' head early on in the episode that maybe all the problems we're in aren't necessarily from my captain, but maybe it has something to do with that mission in Pakistan. That's definitely something that's weighing on him. What was his role in the nuclear war with Pakistan? That's something that we'll definitely get into and will reveal to the audience.
THR: What are your thoughts on Last Resort's ratings performance thus far, and have their been conversations about moving it?
Ryan: I haven't, no. I think they're evaluating everything and nowadays, you have to wait a week to get the Live+3 numbers. We're just now getting the numbers from the premiere in many ways. Everyone would always like to have the No. 1 show on TV. Instead, we're going against the No. 1 show on TV with Big Bang Theory. [Laughs] I think ABC acknowledge that we're doing better than their previous shows in the time slot over the past few years and they love the show creatively and they'll make a decision, whether to keep it in a time slot or move it somewhere, but it's not something I've discussed with them.
Last Resort airs 8 p.m. Thursdays on ABC.