Returning for its third season, The Last Ship proved to its viewers that finding a cure did not mean the end of trouble for the USS Nathan James. In this special, two-episode season premiere, lingering consequences of the pandemic made way for political strains as Tom Chandler and his crew came face-to-face with a new danger.
"The Scott Effect" began four months following Dr. Rachel Scott’s Murder and the discovery of a cure for the pandemic that wiped out 80 percent of the world’s population. Reporting live from St. Louis, newly elected president Jeffrey Michener addressed the population of the United States via radio. According to Michener, the American Reconstruction Plan was on course, with the cure being spread far and wide to other parts of the world. While things were not perfect, they were slowly going back to normal.
— The Last Ship TNT (@TheLastShipTNT) June 7, 2016
Things would not remain quiet for long, however. Cutting to the other side of the world, the show revealed an area of Southern Japan that still suffered from the Red Flu. In a horrific scene, a woman cried over the body of a young boy, panning to the bodies of several others. The cure had not worked. The pandemic had mutated.
President Michener was soon on the case, calling Chandler into his office for debriefing. According to Michener, the rumors of a possible mutation in Japan led the U.S. to suspect foul play on the part of President Peng Wu of China. The president sent Chandler to Asia to investigate the situation and look for lingering signs of the disease while he was there.
Shortly after, Chandler called Slattery, who now ran the USS Nathan James, to warn him of the possible danger as they headed to Vietnam. The audience was presented with the updated ship, with members old and new, reworked to carry Dr. Scott’s cure around the world.
Arriving in Hong Kong with Valerie, the two were enthusiastically greeted by Wolf Taylor, who Chandler had called ahead of time. Surprisingly, Sasha Cooper also greeted the pair, presenting herself as Peng’s translator. Following a short reunion, the four headed to a political dinner with the Chinese president.
Arriving in Vietnam, the USS Nathan James settled on the coast, with a majority of the crew heading to shore for a celebratory dance. Cameron Burke stayed aboard, with his little brother, Carlton Burke, and Captain Slattery among those who went ahead.
At dinner with Peng and several Asian ambassadors, Chandler “poked the elephant” by asking Peng if he knew what the Scott Effect was. Not waiting for an answer, Chandler informed him that the effect represented the number of people needed for a cure to be spread effectively. If that number was not reached, a disease had the potential to spread, with the cure eventually burning out. In a subtle power play, Chandler accused Peng of neglecting his duty to spread the cure, opting to keep it to himself for the sake of political China. With animosity forming between the two, Peng excused himself from the table.
— The Last Ship TNT (@TheLastShipTNT) May 24, 2016
Back in Vietnam, the crew of the USS Nathan James was in full rager mode, with Captain Slattery clearly uncomfortable. Happy to be the bearer of good news, however, Slattery flagged down Danny Green, telling him that he was being sent home to his wife and son.
— The Last Ship TNT (@TheLastShipTNT) June 8, 2016
The cheerful sentiment did not last, with Cameron Burke picking up the signals of three unidentified ships heading to their location. Failing to warn the crew off shore in time, the lights went out, leading into a brutal ambush of the party and its members. The members of the USS Nathan James were taken into captivity, with Green and Cameron Burke barely making it out in time.
Meanwhile, Chandler stepped outside to see a much softer Peng than the one that had presented himself at dinner. He appealed to Chandler, informing him that he was doing his best. Parts of the conversation felt off, however, with Peng’s words appearing more as a warning than an emotional appeal.
Shortly after, Chandler received a call from President Michener, informing him of events in Vietnam and ordering him home. As Cameron Burke listed off the people MIA, Kara was left with a tough decision, ordering the ship to wait for reinforcements. Just after saying goodbye to Taylor and Cooper, Chandler landed back in Hong Kong, requesting transformation to Vietnam to save his crew instead.
As the plane flew away without Chandler in it, Valerie made the choice to join them, ordering the plane back herself. However, as the plane turned around, it was blown out of the sky. With Valerie still inside.
"Rising Sun" started where "The Scott Effect" left off, with Chandler, Taylor and Cooper face-to-face with Valerie’s murders and some of Peng’s men. Acting fast, the three raced off, initiating a car chase. They lose Peng’s men and Cooper informed Taylor to head for a certain building. She had a lead.
Meanwhile, the crew of the USS Nathan James was in a rough spot. The captives woke up to find themselves in a moving ship, Green and Carlton Burke remained clueless as to what happened, and Cameron Burke debated the consequences of ignoring a direct order. Back home, President Michener and Kara remained unsure of what course of action to take as well, waiting for word on Chandler.
Admitting to smuggling the cure out of the country, Cooper took Chandler and Taylor to her business partner and helicopter pilot, Jesse. Handling the side effects of Peng’s rule poorly, the three found her drunk and unconscious on her living room couch. After convincing Jesse that she was not in cahoots with Peng, she agreed to help them.
Meanwhile, the USS Nathan James picked up another unidentified signal. After some detective work, they discovered that it was one of the ships they had seen earlier. Ignoring orders, they immediately followed it. The mystery unraveled further when the captive members of the crew discovered that their captors were Chinese and Green and Carlton Burke question one of their number.
Arriving at the docks, Jesse suggested to Cooper that Peng had discovered their smuggling attempts. Cooper contradicted this theory, however, claiming that her head would already be on a pike. Jess remained adamant, determined that Peng was playing a long game.
Attempting to understand their captor’s weird behavior and deeply concerned when sick or injured crew members were taken away, the crew began to unravel where they were being taken. Eventually, somebody suggested that is was possible they were being led in circles.
Discovered at a checkpoint, Jessie, Cooper, Tayler, and Chandler are forced to gun down a squadron of Peng’s men, quickly racing towards a radiation zone. Discovered there as well, the four barely make it onto the helicopter on time.
— The Last Ship TNT (@TheLastShipTNT) June 10, 2016
Back home, President Michener, concerned that he had not heard from Chandler yet, contacted Peng. In a well coordinated deceit, Peng sent Michener and Kara a fake transmission, detailing an engine failure on Chandler’s plane. Unable to deny the evidence, the two are forced to believe him.
Events came to a head in Vietnam when Green and Carton Burke steal a ship, heading on course for the USS Nathan James, the ship they were flagging down and Chandler’s helicopter. The four intersect all at once, in a quick motion, the captor’s ship was taken down. In a touching moment, the crew wins the day, reunited.
The episode ends in a haunting manner, cutting to a member of the crew that had not made it from his captors. The screen turns to black as Peng’s men began to perform blood work on him, their intentions unknown.