'Last Resort' Breakdown: Shawn Ryan Answers 10 of the Biggest Questions So Far

Last Resort Nuke It Out Episodic Inset Shawn Ryan - H 2012
ABC; Getty Images

Last Resort Nuke It Out Episodic Inset Shawn Ryan - H 2012

[Warning: Major spoilers from Thursday's episode.]

The USS Colorado has a mole among its crew -- and on the latest episode of Last Resort, the identity of the traitor was revealed.

In the final moments of Thursday's "Nuke It Out," unruly crewmember Pilar Cortez (Jessica Camacho) -- who specifically sought out Marcus during the Colorado's rare moments of hapless fun -- was shown hiding the Captain's nuclear launch key. Why she does so will be investigated further. It's the big reveal that sets up coming episodes: "We'll learn her motives and her own true role later," promised executive producer Shawn Ryan.  

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Ryan breaks down the biggest moments -- including a questionable hook-up, Sam's discovery of his kiss, Paul's secret and the explosive Marcus-Serrat confration -- from Thursday's episode, "Nuke It Out" with The Hollywood Reporter in the fifth installment of weekly Last Resort postmortems conducted with fellow EP Karl Gajdusek.

The Hollywood Reporter: So Cortez is the traitor Marcus (Andre Braugher) and Sam (Scott Speedan) have been searching for.

Shawn Ryan: She would not consider herself a traitor but she is the person responsible for taking Marcus' [nuclear launch] key and she is someone that obviously has an agenda. We'll learn her motives and her own true role later, but yeah, that's the big reveal.

THR: Sam discovers the footage of his kiss with Sophie (Camille de Pazzis) on her laptop. Why have him learn of his hallucinatory act that way and what does it mean for him?

Ryan: We had a really trippy episode last week. In this episode, in the clear harsh light of day, some of these actions came out. He's a man who's struggling, not only with that kiss but also with the physical torture he inflicted on Booth, the black ops guy. The kiss was the cherry on top of the sundae in terms of bringing up the question: Who is he? Did that drug reveal who he was or did it alter who he was? Did he truly mistake Sophie for Christine at the moment of that kiss or does that reveal deeper feelings that normally a married person would suppress and not act out upon? In his case, under the influence, he did. How does he deal with the fact that as a victim of torture in North Korea, which we've touched on, he's now the person responsible for [inducing harm on someone] and what kind of guilt does that place on him?

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THR: We also found out that Sam was spared, while seven others were killed. That obviously adds to the burden.

Ryan: In many ways, what we set up was having been a prisoner of war, having escaped and/or freed -- we haven't established the details of that -- that all these actions have led to this moment where Sam finds himself on this island. He may not be surrounded in close proximity by bars, this island in many ways is a prison, which is re-awakening feelings and concerns from that time in his life for him. He begins to see Marcus as the jailer, whether for good or for bad. These are issues that are very strong in Sam and which will carry through in future episodes.

THR: James (Daniel Lissing) planted seeds of doubt to Grace (Daisy Betts) that she may not be as in the know as she thinks she is, that -- in regards to Marcus and Sam -- she is indeed the last man on the totem pole. How does that affect her moving forward?

Ryan: We've been doing some interesting stuff with Grace in previous episodes, where she's proven herself along the way. In her mind, she's earned a place at the table with Marcus and Sam, and this episode highlights the idea that when James puts the bug in her ear, she hasn't quite achieved equality and the level of trust with these two guys -- certainly with Marcus -- that she might've liked. Paranoia and distrust amongst people who in everyday situations would like each other, now that it's life and death, trust goes out the window. We begin to see Grace feel isolated. She's not a member of the enlisted crew, but she's not one of the decision-makers. The fact that Booth being alive was kept from her, that's going to be of concern for her and it drives a wedge between her and Marcus.

THR: Will she go rogue?

Ryan: I wouldn't say going rogue, Sarah Palin-style. [Laughs] But she begins to look in both directions. She begins to question some of the things going on and very quickly a triangle will emerge with Sam, Marcus and Grace. Sometimes two sides of the triangle will merge together or the three will be separate or they will merge together. She's definitely a power player and she has James' ear, which makes her more formidable. In fact in this episode, [she] has a lot more than his ear.

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THR: That was my next question. Speaking of triangles, why is James galavanting with Grace on the beach while he has a good thing going with Tani (Dichen Lachman)?

Ryan: Have you met men? [Laughs] There's a scene early on in the episode where James comments to Tani that "You're good for me" and she says "Is that a problem?" He says, "I'm just not used to it." I think that's very scary for a guy like James. He's a classic love 'em and leave 'em kind of guy, who's always taking risks with his life and is very unwilling to take a risk with his heart. This dalliance with Grace, which she kind of initiated but obviously he didn't have to go along, is a testament to how strong his feelings were becoming with Tani and that that scared him. Now most of us wouldn't approve of this kind of reaction and it's certainly not noble but it comes from a certain place of fear and insecurity within a guy for whom fear and insecurity isn't an option in his professional life.

THR: Aside from his military allegiances, James is caught now between two opposing ends of the spectrum in Tani and Grace -- and there is no wrong choice.

Ryan: What made the story for me was the scene in which he goes back to Tani's room at the end of the evening and you can see the pain and regret as she sleeps. We all make mistakes and some mistakes are more forgivable than others. I'm not suggesting that his is forgivable to Tani, but it's a very human moment. We see the genuine pain that he feels when he's back with Tani, knowing he really screwed up and did something selfish and hurtful and not liking that about himself.

THR: Marcus and Serrat's (Sahr Ngaujah) confrontation was powerful. Can you speak to how the two handled their continuing turf war?

Ryan: These two men bring out the worse in each other in many ways. They're both stubborn, they're both strong, they both have their supporters, they're both powerful orators in their own ways. Neither of them is willing to bend and when people don't bend and pressure gets exerted, people break. What we saw here is both these characters break a little bit. We see Marcus really lose his temper for one of the first times, if not the first time I can think of in the series. We see Serrat exact his revenge on Prosser (Robert Patrick) at the end of the episode. These two are chemicals that do not blend well together.

THR: The scene with Serrat injecting the drug to an unwilling participant in Prosser was quite difficult to watch on many levels.

Ryan: It's a tough one to watch and I can say that having watched it 15 times now. It goes to show the lengths that Serrat will go. What I really like about that scene, because I'm certainly not a torture porn kind of guy, is what we learn about Serrat in that scene and his back story: learning that his mother was only 12 when he was born, that soldiers came to take him away and forced him to cut his mother's arms off.

THR: It's also discovered that Paul's (Jay Hernandez) strings are being pulled because of his desire to reunite with his son, Daniel. Can you shed more light on where that's headed?

Ryan: We begin to see him as a human being. We begin to understand his motives, that he's not operating out of pure evil. He's operating for much the same reason Christine is operating, to have a loved one return to him. That will make the Christine-Paul relationship more complicated. In order to circumvent this man and in order to get what she wants, she's going to have to work against him or use his feelings for her against him. That will be messy. She'll have to decide how far she wants to push that.

Last Resort airs 8 p.m. Thursdays on ABC.

E-mail: Philiana.Ng@thr.com
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