The Last Ship series finale review: Did Tom Chandler sacrifice himself?

Last Ship season 5 posterThe Last Ship series finale has now come and gone, and we still wonder if this was the right way to end the long-running show.

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Here’s the good news coming out of it: Gustavo is gone. The leader of Gran Colombia was thwarted near the end of tonight’s installment, but there was still another threat that remained in the battleship that went after the Nathan James. The crew started to evacuate and at this point, Tom Chandler made the biggest sacrifice of his career: He jammed the ship right into his opposition, causing a massive explosion that could have easily taken his own life. In a lot of ways, it really should have.

Yet, throughout the finale there was one question that kept reverberating both in Chandler’s head and also through the lips of Sasha: Does he have a death wish? Somewhere in his core, does he actually want to die? It’s a terrible thing to think about, but at the same time understandable to wonder. He has lost almost everything in his attempts to make the country better, and it was clear he had thought about and even embraced his mortality. He also felt a tremendous tinge of survivor’s remorse, wondering why he was still there when so many he loved were not.

This was the origination of the other side, the Davy Jones’ locker world that Chandler briefly entered after the explosion where a number of familiar faces from the past were — including Rachel and Burk, who are no longer with us. He briefly got a taste of the other side, or at least what a part of his mind considered to be the afterlife. He knew that there was honor in this death, but that there was something more still to fight for. There was something more to live for, and despite whatever relationship Chandler may have with death, he was too much of a fighter to ever give in.

That is why, at the end of the episode, Tom emerged at the top of the water. He did not drown, and the other members of the crew (including Slattery) were able to ensure his safety. The battle, at least in the grand scheme of things, seems to be over. The United States has won … or have they really? There will always be more to take on and there may never be peace for the members of the Navy. Maybe it is more aggrandized on this show as opposed to real life, but their struggles certainly are relatable.

Final CarterMatt Verdict

The Last Ship wins some points for the intensity of the series finale, and really the final season at large — there was non-stop action, high stakes, and a reasonably compelling villain (though we feel somewhat deprived of a direct Chandler vs. Gustavo showdown). We do think with more time, a better backstory could’ve been carved out here.

Ultimately, the biggest criticism we can levy with the finale was just the sheer lack of time — even if we were only going to get ten episodes, would it have been too much to ask for TNT to extend the finale’s runtime by another ten or twenty minutes? Perhaps the biggest thing that we are bummed out about is the lack of what-happens-next content at the end. We have no real sense of what Chandler’s life looks like after the fact, or if he or any other surviving character finds an opportunity for normalcy. Everything ended with the conclusion of the battle. While there may not be such a thing as a perfectly-happy ending, a little more closure would have been preferred.

This was a good finale; it just also felt like a rushed finale where there was still too much that needed to be done and not enough time to do it. Had there been more advance warning that season 5 was the final one, maybe that could’ve been changed. While this was a somewhat-lukewarm conclusion to the overall series, it by no means takes away from the years worth of excellent action and entertainment that The Last Ship allowed us to have.

Related Check out some more news on The Last Ship, including why we’re not getting a season 6 over at TNT

What did you think about The Last Ship series finale overall? Be sure to share right away in the attached comments. (Photo: TNT.)

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