That old nightmare of being the last person (or people) on earth still seems to be in vogue lately as post-apocalyptic visions continue in sci-fi. While movies continue to explore this territory, TV is finally getting into the mix the last few years. Syfy’s “Defiance” is an example of post-apocalypse tale mixed with alien warfare and analogy for race (and political) relations. We also saw NBC’s “Revolution” and a post-apocalyptic view of everyone trying to get the lights back on, plus reverting into near political factions. Now we have a different spin arriving soon from Michael Bay that may become a new recurring TV or movie genre.
“The Last Ship” may be confused in title with a musical on Broadway starring Sting, but there’s hardly any resemblance between the two other than having to do with ships. In the case of the sci-fi TV show, it’s one U.S. Navy ship that happens to be the only surviving U.S. ship after a pandemic wipes out most of earth’s populace. With a small Navy crew aboard the USS Nathan James, they’re constantly on the move and fighting against time to find a cure so the human race doesn’t become extinct.
If this idea of being itinerant in a moving vessel after an apocalypse sounds familiar, it’s because an indie movie came out recently called “Snowpiercer” that deals with the only train left on earth after an ice age. Inside the train contains the last people left on earth breaking up into factions between the rich and the poor. The usual human politics that seem irrelevant on earth play out on a constantly moving train traveling through snow and ice on a journey to nowhere.
It’s easy to see “The Last Ship” turning into a similar scenario, particularly with a group of people with different backgrounds learning how to survive together in cramped quarters. You can see this as an emerging post-apocalyptic genre, especially in the old trope of people being trapped together in one place and needing to work together while subsequently wanting to strangle one another.
Having Survivors on the Move Rather than Stationary
“Night of the Living Dead” seems to have been the first to use the idea of a major event happening outdoors, hence bringing a group of survivors to butt heads inside a barricaded place. There’s no better way to create character conflict than when they’re all stuck in close quarters for time indefinite. And in “The Last Ship”, being stuck on a ship might be the worst nightmare other than a submarine. Considering there’s only going to be 10 episodes initially when it airs on TNT this month, it’s just enough time to see the crew likely turn on each other while fighting to find a cure for the disease that almost wiped out humanity.
Having the last survivors on earth on the move ultimately gives a more heart-racing quality to the post-apocalyptic genre. It also gives more credibility considering “I Am Legend” (and “The Last Man on Earth” before it) seems less plausible one person could survive the aftermath of whatever cataclysm happened prior. We’d also have to assume more than one person would be alive in said scenario, hence giving a chance to have just enough brilliant minds still around to possibly save humanity. Regardless, with the penchant for death of main characters lately, don’t be surprised to see the most useful characters trapped on the ship get killed off before reaching the first season’s last episode.
The plausibility of having the oceans around them helps provide the vastness of the problem they face. And it appears they’ll be stopping in ports along the way to see what’s happening on land once in a while. They’ll also be able to escape in pirate form back to the oceans if they discover militia groups as seen so much in “Revolution.”
Some might cite “The Walking Dead” as another itinerant apocalyptic show, even if the parameters where they move aren’t very wide outside of Georgia. Some people are anxious to see the survivors on “The Walking Dead” reach the ruins of Washington, D.C. to see what’s there. “The Last Ship” will likely do the same and explore the world to see how other continents are faring after the worldwide pandemic. After all, most fans of post-apocalyptic fare don’t just want to imagine what’s happening to the populace in other parts of America, Europe, or Asia.
Characters in mobile vessels after such cataclysmic events will probably become a hot commodity now and finally show that there may be no real sanctuary left on earth after the worst nightmare occurs.