Take a heaping helping of nuclear tension from “Crimson Tide,” throw in a dash of Col. Kurtz’s heart of darkness from “Apocalypse Now,” and shake on some island flavor, a la “Mutiny on the Bounty,” and you’ve got an approximation of “Last Resort,” premiering Thursday, Sept. 27, on ABC.
Created by Shawn Ryan (“The Unit,” “The Shield”) and Karl Gajdusek (“Dead Like Me”), the high-octane drama focuses on the U.S. ballistic missile submarine Colorado, commanded by Capt. Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher).
While submerged, the Colorado receives orders to launch nuclear weapons at Pakistan, over a channel to be used only if the U.S. has been decimated. Suspicious of how the orders were received, Chaplin requests confirmation, only to have the White House unceremoniously relieve him of command.
His second-in-command, Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman), also refuses to launch missiles without confirmation, and suddenly the Colorado finds itself under friendly fire. With the sub declared rogue and its crew designated as enemies of the U.S., Chaplin and Kendal take the vessel to an exotic island.
While both men want to clear their names, Chaplin sees the island as more of a new beginning, while the married Kendal just wants to get back home.
Shot on location in Hawaii, the show also features Daisy Betts, Dichen Lachman, Daniel Lissing, Sahr Ngaujah, Autumn Reeser, Jessy Schram and Robert Patrick.
“There’s a whole Washington, D.C., mystery,” says Braugher, sitting down with Speedman in a hotel bar to discuss the show, “about who’s in control. As far as we’re concerned, we are essentially blameless in this, in that we have been attacked for asking a question — not for refusing an order, but for asking a question.”
For Kendal, there’s also the personal dimension.
“That’s really the thrust of the character,” Speedman says, “that he’s trying to get back home. It raises the stakes.”
As to what the dynamic is between Chaplin and Kendal, Braugher explains that Chaplin thinks Kendal’s skills would serve him better in the command hierarchy of the Navy rather than as a sub commander.
“That’s Marcus’ intention,” Braugher says. “We understand and respect each other, but like any good show, this show begins from the very beginning to test that friendship, because we’re making decisions that could be questioned.”
After Kendal also questions the order, causing the ship to be fired upon, he puts Chaplin back in command.
“He’s not obligated to do it,” Braugher says, “but he understands who I am. There’s a line in the pilot that says he’s never known me to do anything that will threaten the lives of my crew or the nation or our mission, because he absolutely knows me.
“The farther you go into the pilot, you begin to question, ‘What is Marcus Chaplin up to? What is he doing? How can he fire on the United States of America from a submarine?’
“It’s the beginning of a slow separation, splitting, between the two men. I’m thinking about our long-term survival. I’m thinking that maybe this island is the only defensible place, because we might become trapped if we’re just one submarine in the middle of the ocean.
“I’m saying, ‘This is our home,’ to a man who is desperate to get back to his own home. That’s the beginning of a rift, being split apart. That’s what I see.”
All this time, Speedman has been giving Braugher his full attention.
As to what he thinks of what his co-star just said, Speedman says. “I love to listen. It’s fascinating.
“The bells and whistles, the sub genre, that’s all very exciting, but that relationship is integral to me doing this.”