Mario Perez/ABC
Lanford Beard
August 23, 2012 AT 01:00 PM EDT

Cut to: The most important decision of your life. Only, your life is not all that’s at stake. The lives of hundreds of others, and perhaps the world, are on the block. This is the dilemma facing submarine Capt. Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher) in ABC’s new high-concept, low-depth drama Last Resort. “We’re trying to be epic…and tell the big stories that used to be told on movie screens,” says Shawn Ryan (The Shield), who created the show with Karl Gajdusek (Dead Like Me). The showrunners spoke to EW of what’s in store for the crew of the U.S.S. Colorado — including Master Chief Joseph Prosser (Robert Patrick) and Executive Officer Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman) — after the sailors are left to deal with the fallout of Marcus’s make-or-break decision, with two exclusive images to help us get the picture.

Mario Perez/ABC

In Last Resort‘s gripping, intense pilot Marcus must make a call to enact a military command that could potentially ignite World War III. When his superiors don’t like his decision, Marcus — and his crew — are deemed personae non gratae, cut off from their country and everything they know. In the scene above, Gajdusek explains that XO Kendal is “talking his own people down” after the crew lands on foreign terrain and faces an attack. The invasion only heightens the emotions they were feeling before being forced aground. “The crew of the Colorado didn’t make these choices. They were just doing what they were supposed to do, and these choices got made [for them]. Marcus…made these choices, and now they all have to live with [the consequences]. They’re scared.”

How the sailors conduct themselves under the influence of fear sets up what Gajdusek considers one of the major themes of the series. The sailors are “still Americans and there are certain values they have to hold true to,” he says. “These people do not consider themselves to be rogue defectors flying a new flag. They consider themselves to be patriotic Americans who have, through a series of circumstances, been forced away from their home country, and they’re trying to stay true to those values and get back to their home country.”

NEXT: A rare look at Braugher and Patrick

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