It wasn’t on HBO.
That is the simple and direct answer to why this television series died a premature death, just thirteen episodes into what should have been a solid, multi-year run. An award-winning run, to say the least.
But unfortunately this will not be the case. Which is a shame, not just for the show, but also for Googliebear’s and mine track record. Every year for the past little while we have picked a show to watch together every year. This worked beautifully with Lost, but turned into a crapfest with the abysmal No Ordinary Family and the awful Terra Nova.
So with much critical acclaim being heaped onto it, we picked Last Resort as our show this year. And now it is gone, all because it resided on the wrong network.
For the uninitiated, Last Resort was a military drama with thriller and action overtones, all mixed with intrigue and characterization. The pilot sets everything up beautifully. An American nuclear submarine is sent to pick up a band of Navy Seals escaping from sort of mission in Pakistan. Shortly after, they receive orders to launch missiles against Pakistan, but something is amiss. When the Captain refuses, the U.S. tries to blow up the sub. Taking this rather personally, they head off to a NATO station on a small island. And they take it over. It becomes their base while they try to figure out what is going on. Cue incredible drama.
And drama they delivered.
The island warlord does not approve, to put it mildly, of these interlopers in his affairs. The NATO leader, a French lady who is an expert in communications technology, tries to navigate all the various factions that spring up. One of the Seals develops a conscious after he starts dating the lady owner of the local bar, who in turn fights quite often with her tribal leader father.
And that is just within the island community. The military side has to deal with people who just want to go home, the definition of justice in this new place, and the problems of getting valuable supplies pass the blockade.
Meanwhile, back on the mainland, a brilliant and sexy scientist is thrown into the murk of what politics are infiltrating and moving this tension along. The wife of one of the officers is harassed by the government, the media, and the public, all of which makes her one pissed off lady.
These disparate elements all combine together, with all sorts of twists and turns and changes and new developments thrown in as well. The potential here was almost limitless for what could have been done with Last Resort. Even with my knowledge of what happens in all thirteen episodes, which I will not spoil here, more storylines and character arcs are introduced, and while not all are winners, most kept the tension going.
The decline of Last Resort seems to occur some episodes before the end. Desperation at lack of ratings made some elements to become a jumble in a rush to complete the finale. The producers had time to redo the end in order to give closure for us fans, which makes me thankful.
Which brings up the regret I mentioned earlier. This little gem should have been on HBO. If it was, instead of reading Last Resort’s obituary right now, you would be reading a glowing review of the mid-season ender. HBO has consistently shown courage in doing television that pushes boundaries and does not hold back. The Wire, Treme, and shelves full of Emmies and Peabody Awards are testament to this fact. Traditional networks have proved to be filled with little stamina in this regard, in my elder mindset they have not since the days of M.A.S.H. and All in the Family. Now I am not saying Last Resort is in the same league, but at least it attempts to push a thought or idea forward. When the networks complain about declining viewership, a certain lack of guts is a factor in that.
Maybe, just maybe, Last Resort would have become a hit of epic proportions if it was on HBO. A unique, interesting drama that the masses would be thrilled and challenged by. But alas, it was not the case. It is gone, but not forgotten.
RIP Last Resort, we hardly knew ye.
…is currently reading Brightest Day by Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi.
P.S. All images for Last Resort are copyright 2013 to Sony Picture Television.