TNT’s explosive nautical drama The Last Ship sailed back into Comic-Con for its sophomore season in a July 9 panel moderated by EW’s own James Hibberd.
Cast members Eric Dane, Rhona Mitra, Adam Baldwin, Travis Van Winkle, Jocko Sims, Marissa Neitling, and executive producer Hank Steinberg returned to San Diego to offer scoop on the post-apocalyptic drama’s action-packed season 2, which premiered on June 21.
With the crew of the USS Nathan James now back in control of their ship (after foisting politico baddie Amy Granderson’s rogue operation), the troops are back at sea and looking to expand the fleet and distribute Dr. Scott’s cure for the disease that wiped out most of humanity.
Here’s what we learned is on the horizon as The Last Ship steams toward the middle act of its 13-episode second season:
The Immunes: After an extended 15-minute sneak peek of the next episode, it’s clear that this season is all about man vs. sub—or Chandler vs. sub, perhaps. Though season 1 had its share of fun villains (El Toro, anyone?), the Nathan James is facing its most dangerous yet in the submarine-owning Immunes. “What if somebody didn’t want the cure? Who would that be?” posed showrunner Steinberg, explaining how the creators landed on this year’s big bads. “Wouldn’t there be people who were naturally immune to this disease and if they were, they would become almost like superheroes in this world. Everyone else is scrambling around with gas masks and scarves…but they can walk the earth untouched. They can break in anywhere, take anything they want, and if they band together, they can become incredibly powerful.” If last season’s Ruskov frequently played chicken with the question of whether he’d fire, says Steinberg, “these guys don’t care.”
Slattery’s axe has a name: There’s good news and bad news for XO Slattery: When asked whether we’ll learn what happened to his family this season, Baldwin simply replied, “Could be sad,” prompting a huge aww from the crowd. “But we’re not sure! We have to presume the best and prepare for the worst, and it’s an open question at this point.” The good news is that Slattery has a new lady in his life: the fire axe he buried in the “mall cop” in the premiere. “I’ve named my axe,” says Baldwin. “It’s Mary. Bloody, bloody Mary.” (And, of course, the audience roared.)
Danny and Kara’s marriage isn’t far off: Steinberg wouldn’t reveal the gender or the name of Danny and Kara’s incoming baby, but both Travis Van Winkle and Marissa Neitling expressed their absolute hope that the pair will go legit and get married. (“That would be the sappiest episode,” joked Dane.) As Steinberg tells it, the writers have toyed with a scene where Danny and Kara got married on the deck with everyone in full Navy whites. “It did not survive on the [writers’ room] board, but that doesn’t’ mean they’re not gonna get married,” says Steinberg. “It’s just not going to be that way.”
There’s more love, too: Any chance of romance between Rachel and Tex? “Not if I have anything to do with it,” says Rhona MItra. “Did I just say that out loud?” (Yes, doc, you did!) But Jocko Sims’ Lieutenant Burk is getting a forbidden love in a forthcoming episode, says Steinberg: “The issues of whether or not they can or cannot on the ship will become quite relevant.”
Subs, not choppers: A submarine is apparently the biggest request the show gets from real Navy officers—ask, and ye shall receive—but there was an audience question that wondered why pilots don’t get any love on The Last Ship. Steinberg revealed that there once was a pilot character, but “we just knew, week to week, we would not have access to a helicopter to be able to do that…It’s something we are contemplating for the future…But we never felt that we could pull that off consistently, and so that’s the reason that didn’t happen.”
The rebuilding of civilization is somewhat familiar: That shot of Chandler contemplating Lincoln in the White House? It’ll come back into play at the end of the season. “That’ll be a recurring idea, the idea that the Immunes are pulling the country apart, and how is the crew going to bring the nation back together?” asks Steinberg, hearkening to the Civil War. “The Lincoln thing…you’ll find out what I’m talking about in nine weeks.” This season, we’ll also see glimpses into the state of affairs in the rest of world, provided that the crew can “begin to wrestle the beast of what America’s going through,” first.
Chandler goes above and beyond: When asked why the captain always finds himself in the center of the action—against real-world protocol, it seems—Dane breezily replied, “If it were up to me, I’d sit in the chair every episode and sip some coffee.” (One brave audience member also dared to ask whether Dane enjoyed shooting Grey’s Anatomy more than The Last ship. “I actually enjoy shooting The Last Ship more than I enjoyed shooting Grey’s Anatomy,” he joked. “And in the Grey’s room right after this, I’m gonna go tell them [the opposite].”
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