RECAP REVIEW – BREAD & CIRCUSES

WARNING! If you’ve not seen 403 Bread and Circuses, then there be SPOILERS ahead! 

The Nathan James is hot on the trail of the missing African palm seeds, following leads to Mahmoud’s home village in Algeria. The investigation quickly runs into dead ends as the locals remain silent, unwilling to help. Omar’s reputation is well known and feared.

Mahmoud’s grandmother also lives in the village, she has the seeds, and is determined not to give them up when Omar (guest star Anthony Azizi) arrives on her doorstep. He tries to reason with her, but soon swaps persuasive words for more forceful methods, accidentally discovering the seed container in the process. Vulture and Cobra teams are nearby and watching, but unable to attack the heavily guarded Omar as he prepares to leave. A quick thinking Sasha (Bridget Regan) takes a big risk, but manages to slip a tracking device on the mercenaries helicopter before it departs. They use it to track him to the Italian island of Sardinia.

At Giorgio’s mansion, Chandler (Eric Dane) shares Lucia’s (Sibylla Deen) bed, and while she sleeps, manages to steal her scarab necklace. His objective is the secure room, which the necklace opens, but despite the early morning, he’s discovered by Giorgio (Jackson Rathbone). Far from being suspicious, the playboy seems oblivious to anything but his own selfish pleasures. He hints at momentous plans for the day, but, on details, he’s elusive. He wants Chandler along for the ride because he’s a killer, nothing more. Once Giorgio leaves, Tom continues his mission, finding reports on samples sent to an unidentified lab, chemistry notes, and a list of palm species.

It turns out Giorgio’s plans involve a long boat trip to another island, where Chandler will take part in a fight to celebrate closing some sort of deal. Giorgio spends much of the journey arguing over the phone, a frustrating conversation that reveals his boss does not trust his judgement. Their destination is Sardinia, to meet with Omar, and it’s soon revealed that Giorgio hired the mercenary to steal the seeds for him. The deal goes south quickly when Omar wants more than he was promised, beginning to understand the seeds’ true value. He threatens to put them on the open market for the highest bidder if his demands aren’t met, but Lucia takes over from her brother, and manages to placate the mercenary by sweetening the deal.

Outside, Cobra and Vulture teams, with Captain Slattery (Adam Baldwin) leading the mission, arrive on the island. They track Omar’s men to a fight arena in time to see Giorgio’s champion ‘Hercules’, take to the ring. The sudden appearance of the long lost Tom Chandler is a very unexpected reunion for Nathan James’ crew, especially when they find out their old CO is also in pursuit of those ancient palm seeds.

While season 4’s storytelling may be inspired by Homer’s The Odyssey, ‘Bread and Circuses’ is most definitely The Last Ship’s homage to a classic episode of Star Trek’s Original Series. The episodes have many parallels, title included, but with some fun twists to keep us on our toes!

Chandler is, quite literally, sleeping with the enemy. We always knew he could be pragmatic, and single-minded to the point of obsession, but there seemed to be a clear moral line he wouldn’t step over. It’s that line that pushed Tom to breaking point. Sleeping with Lucia is an interesting development, some might view it as once again stepping over the line. This Tom Chandler is more ruthless, more willing to compromise to achieve what he believes to be ‘right’. This is the Tom Chandler who wants both justice and revenge.

We finally get a little more insight into Omar, the mercenary who stole the seeds and gave Mahmoud a rather grisly demise. Ultimately he is the middle man in a power game, but he’s still a menacing presence who may yet prove a dangerous opponent to the Nathan James and her crew. Omar is also fond of large knives, with luck he’ll meet his fate at the pointy end of one himself!

Slattery and Chandler’s reunion in the ring is a great balance between awkward, surprising and bitter sweet. The two take jabs at each other, verbally and physically, and you get a sense of the hurt felt after Chandler’s disappearance. It’s obvious Slattery expected better of his friend, let’s hope that plays out more over the next few episodes. After so long away, and effectively abandoning his crew, Tom’s got some making up to do.

Without spoiling the ending, it’s safe to say that it’s a cliffhanger that’s going to leave viewers anxiously awaiting the next episode!

GALLERY

Why does Vellek help Chandler? His long speech about human nature and it’s propensity for violence seemed to indicate he is against it, yet he’s wrapping Chandler’s hands for the fight. So why does he help Chandler, by placing the herbal concoction on his fists? Could he have ulterior motives?

Why Omar? Of all the people to get help from, why and how did Giorgio choose to use Omar and his man to get the seeds? He doesn’t seem the type to be hanging around with the hardcore, extremist types. Giorgio’s preferred company appears to be the ladies at poolside parties.

And just where is Giorgio or his boss getting their information from? The list of palm species Chandler finds in the secured room, was almost identical to the one Sasha and Fletcher were looking at.

DEFINITION: An Easter egg is an intentional inside joke, a hidden message, or a secret feature of an interactive work.

And it can also be defined as a visual clue, connecting things without explicitly saying them out loud, and that’s exactly what we got in ‘Bread and Circuses’ when we once again meet the keeper of the seeds. She turns out to be Mahmoud’s grandmother, and like a bread crumb trail you can connect the dots to where she’s headed. In 401, Sasha surmises that the twin lions tattoo Mahmoud has, stands for ‘Oran’, his grandmother has that same tattoo. It’s also painted as a mural on the wall of the village when Vulture team arrive to investigate.

Mahmoud’s tattoo

Mahmoud’s Grandmother

Wall mural in Oran, Algeria

Now this one’s interesting. In the premiere episode, we soon discover that the Nathan James is on a mission to track down missing ancient african palm seeds, which have been stolen from the Global Seed Vault. They are reportedly the key to finding a cure for the red rust. We don’t know where Sasha got this intelligence from yet, but it turns out she’s not the only one privy to the information. In episode 401 ‘In Medias Res’ we see Sasha researching a list of palm species:

And in this episode (403), when Chandler sneaks into the secure room, he finds that same list.

Interestingly, Chandler’s list also appears to have the names written in Greek, but it’s only greek lettering, the actual words appear to be in english, with the letters switched from the English alphabet, to the Greek one.

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The absolute highlight of the episode is the grand entrance of Peter Weller’s ‘Dr. Paul Vellek’. It’s a simple but awesome scene which gives little away, but whets the appetite. Weller gets to chew up and spit out dialogue, waxing lyrical about mankind’s self destructive capacity for violence. In a lesser actor’s care, the monologue could have seemed overly indulgent and fallen flat, in Weller’s, it got the chills factor! Expect any scene the actor is in to be utterly stolen!

COMING SOON!