Captain Marcus."Blue on Blue" had a lot going on: firefights, tongue-lashings, a Cold-War dust-up with Russia, and key backstory on Sam (a North Korean POW) and Marcus (whose son was killed just two weeks ago). The overall premise is interesting; the acting is top-notch. So why does "Last Resort" feel like a sinking ship?
It's not the plotting; the episode moves right along from the premiere, throwing our heroes right into a scenario where the outside world is already testing Captain Marcus's 200-mile perimeter. When another U.S. sub noses over the line, Marcus backs them off with the Navy equivalent of a bar-fight chest bump, then tests out Kylie's Perseus cloaking prototype. It works! The Colorado vanishes from radar.
Next, a passenger 747 "blunders" into Republic of Marcustan airspace, but both Sam and Jerky Drunk SEAL Guy (fine, his name is King) (of the jerks, that is!) know it's probably a Special Forces team, getting dropped out to sea to paddle in to Ste. Marina and "contain the situation" (i.e., kill them). That scene cooks, because it uses Navy lingo without overexplaining, the dialogue isn't speechy, and the situation isn't hackneyed.
Lt. Grace can't cope and asks to be relieved. Sam refuses, putting her on the team that's intercepting the Special Forces invaders. COB (the Robert Patrick character, whose name is "Joseph Prosser," but if you thought his name was "Cobb," you're not alone) is enraged, by everyone: Lt. Grace because she's a daddy's girl, Marcus because he didn't follow orders, and the writers for making COB a one-dimensional character who has to bellow lines like, "Your duty, sir, is to fire when you're told to fire!" COB believes in chain of command, and he's confined to a glorified chicken coop, but we've seen the hidebound officer who won't see shades of grey before, and Robert Patrick was practically twisting invisible mustache points — not least when he hints at his minions that Lt. Grace should run into some "friendly" fire.
King, a type we've also seen before (grumpy, emotionally scarred rogue), declines to back Sam and Lt. Grace up on their mission. He'd rather make speeches about how they have no idea what they're facing out there (while hurling over the side of the bar's lanai — classy!). Tani the unflappable local bartender tells him a few things about island ritual, and marks his face with what looks like baseball eye-black — the Cliché of Native Wisdom. King of course decides to do the right thing — just in time, because the air-drop wasn't American Special Forces, but Russian ones. King snipes a handful of them to save Sam and Lt. Grace.
Stateside, Christine is in an interrogation room straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. She's told to tell Sam that he's got full amnesty if he hands over the submarine — and Marcus. That's untrue, of course, and at the last minute Christine shouts that Sam can't trust "them." She's then shown Sam's debriefing after a 17-day POW stint in North Korea. Did she know about this, they ask her? No. Did she know Marcus went off the rez to rescue Sam? No. Does she know what else she doesn't know about Sam? Christine isn't swayed…much. The feds (presumably; it's unclear what entity her questioners work for, but they're government and they're villains) send in a friend of Sam's to "take care of Christine" and "get her home" (read: pretend he's on her side while planting bugs in her house and ideas in her head).
Kylie is thrilled that Perseus works — but she doesn't want to get blamed for any of this Colorado mess, so she semi-blackmails her contact, Linus, with his bad behavior at his bachelor party so he'll find out who gave the order to fire. Linus promptly comes down with a case of conspiracy-borne poison-itis, but Kylie keeps it frosty enough to snag the intel from Linus's coat pocket.
Marcus, meanwhile, has started an international kerfuffle by threatening to sink his Russian contact's ship, then nuke the contact's sons' post in Sebastopol, if "Viktor" doesn't pull his men. The Secretary of Defense overhears the convo and is enraged with Viktor, but Marcus is on to the next thing: a bombastic speech about American honor that prevents his men from shooting the Russian POWs.
COB has had it with the lectures, and announces to all and sundry exactly why Marcus has nothing left to lose: his son is dead, and Marcus doesn't want peace. He wants revenge on the country that stole his child.
Sam spins another long yarn about friendship and trust — can't these people just talk to each other? -- and Marcus breaks down in tears, then hands Sam a mysterious slip of paper. Braugher and Scott Speedman shine in the scene, finding the real people amid the clichés, and when the show chooses sharp dialogue over momentum-killing monologues, it's compelling.