THE LAST SHIP really is going out all guns blazing, the horrors and consequences of war becoming ever more real with each episode. Even with having lost several of our favourite characters this season, and Miller losing his legs, there is possibly nothing more shocking and senseless than the death of fan favorite, Commander Carlton Burk, played by Jocko Sims.

Killed by a child with a speargun, he breathed his last in Danny Green’s arms, the beautifully written and acted scene moving us all to tears when he was brought back on board the Nathan James one last time. Quite possibly the most viscerally emotional moment of the season so far, Burk’s death serves as a stark reminder that death can lurk in the quiet moments, as well as in the heat of battle. Jocko recently took time to answer a few questions for us about Burk’s journey through season five, and his shocking demise.

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The Last Ship.TV: Season five gives us Burk with shiny silver oak leaves on his collar – congratulations on the promotion! Did the new rank change the way you portrayed him?

Jocko Sims: Yes! It was great to step into that commander Burk character. Burk definitely gets an opportunity to use his new rank, and it’s really exciting.

TLS.TV: What was the biggest challenge for you this season?

JS: As I touched on earlier… Probably the biggest challenge was moving from Lieutenant Burk to Commander Burk, and having to step my game up to another level very quickly!

TLS.TV: You’ve been with the show right from the start. Can you tell us about how you feel Burk has developed through the five seasons?

JS: Lieutenant Burk for me has always been the heart of the ship. He has been passionate about his career, passionate about the Navy, about the mission and his country. In those areas, he hasn’t changed much. But he has grown to distrust people over the course of the five seasons as he has lost many people close to him, and almost lost his brother, and he begins to tread lightly a bit more as we progress.

TLS.TV: When and how did you find out that Burk was going to be killed off?

JS: I found out from our boss Steven Kane, in passing on a ship in San Diego. He said, “oh… By the way… Burk gets to get killed. And it’s going to be very sad!” I felt it was an honor!

TLS.TV: Did you have any input into his storyline this season?

JS: I didn’t find over the years that this was the type of show in which the talent had much input. But the good thing is I got to take a ride as a fan as a result of that. Each new script that came out was like getting to see a new episode for me.

TLS.TV: A speargun? Really?? Burk’s death left us devastated, and it seemed so senseless! How did you feel when you read the script?

JS: Yes. Burk Dies is at the hands of a seven-year-old who appears out of nowhere. I feel that the death comes suddenly, quickly, and by the hands of one of the most random characters to ever appear, who was alive for all of six seconds. Such is war… Such is life.

TLS.TV: Is this the first time you’ve had the opportunity to portray a character’s moment of death on screen? How do you prepare for that?

JS: Not much preparation goes into playing a character that dies on screen. It’s more physical than anything. You have to really get good at holding your breath for a long period of time, and not moving, not twitching, not blinking. It’s much more difficult than it seems, especially if you are dying in an awkward position.

TLS.TV: The little scene between Burk and Green, floating in the sea, was really poignant, and beautifully executed. Can you tell us a little about what went into that scene?

JS: That was interesting… I had made it nearly 5 seasons without actually having to get completely in water, or submerge underwater. Up until my last week of filming! I thought that was hilarious, but that scene was shot in a pool at 1 AM. We were cold and exhausted, but it was still a fun scene to do.

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While Burk may be gone from our screens, he is most definitely not forgotten. We’ll bring you more from Jocko after the season finale, and don’t forget that he is currently starring as brilliant cardiac surgeon Floyd Pearson in the fledgling medical drama NEW AMSTERDAM, Tuesdays 10/9c on NBC.