STEVEN KANE INTERVIEW PART 1 – 2018

After an extremely successful five season run, THE LAST SHIP has finally run aground, the Nathan James making its way to the bottom of the ocean, and Tom Chandler choosing not to go down with the ship that had become his life.

As fans, we followed the show through every twist and turn, grieved at the loss of our favorite characters, cried, laughed, and clung to the edges of our seats at every cliffhanger. However, it’s not just the fans who were on a rollercoaster journey: the cast and crew were right there with us. Here, showrunner STEVEN KANE shares some of his memories of THE LAST SHIP.

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TheLastShip.TV: In all of the five seasons, what are your fondest memories?

Steven Kane: Laughing in the writers room. Watching big scenes come to life on set. Sitting in the final mix as all the hours in the editing room pay off. Working with the composers to find the proper score for each moment. Directing two crews and 500 plus people on the beach at Camp Pendleton, bringing the show to a close.

TLS.TV: Are there any behind the scenes stories you’re now able to share with the fans?

SK: Nothing comes to mind except the moments where the cast and crew came together on set for important announcements. We were filming the premiere to season 3 when the Paris nightclub shooting occurred and we stopped everything for a moment of silence. On the base in San Diego, no matter how busy the crew was, we’d stop for “colors” when sailors raised and lowered the flag (morning and sunset). Everyone put their hands over their hearts and saluted. Didn’t matter if you were Democrat or Republican, you were standing to recognize the service of the 1000s of men and women in uniform. Receiving the Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award and having a flag flown over the Pentagon in my name, spending time with real sailors and marines and hearing their stories. And sometimes telling their stories. These were the honors of this particular show. And I’m grateful for all of it. We had a lot of fun.

TLS.TV: What, if anything, would you change about the show’s direction throughout its run?

SK: Nothing. I look back on certain moments and wish we’d executed better, or I’d written a better line of dialogue. But I’m happy with the direction the show took.

TLS.TV: During season three, there was a purported script being shared on social media, which appeared to show an alternate season three opening, with Chandler, in a dream sequence, walking through the Nathan James and being confronted with dead characters, being ignored by others, while dealing with his reaction to Rachel’s death. Why the change in direction?

SK: If I remember correctly, we felt it was taking too long to get the episode going and there was lots to set up — first episodes for us were like pilot episodes, where we set the table for a whole new season. That scene was beautiful, but we found other ways to show how haunted Chandler was by Rachel’s death.

TLS.TV: Was it a conscious decision to use a very similar montage to close out Chandler’s story at the end of season five?

SK: Yes, I think I said, “Hey, let’s do a version of that dream from season 2.” What’s great is that a good idea always finds its time and place, and I think the way we use it in the finale is much more powerful and meaningful than had we done it at the start of our 11th episode.

TLS.TV: Information from the same source as the script indicated that season four was supposed to take a very different direction, with Chandler being taken at the end of season three, and held as a hostage in season four. Was this something you toyed with?

SK: This does not sound familiar to me. For a very long time, I had decided that Chandler should walk off Nathan James and “not look back” at the end of season 3. So if that idea came up, it must have come up and been dismissed quite early in the process. But we often throw out ideas in the writers room that never see the light of day. I think we had ideas where certain characters get hooked on drugs, for example. One of our writers pitched an idea for a whole episode during which Chandler and Rachel, and then Chandler and Sasha, get trapped in the bottom of a sinking ship. A cool idea, but we never found a place for it, and probably could not have afforded it! And if our cast knew how many times we almost killed them, they’d be horrified. We’d talk up and idea and plan a death and then chicken out or decide it wasn’t appropriate, or we’d just find a better idea. There were times where I thought we really should kill off a certain character (for dramatic reasons, not personal ones!), and someone on the writing staff would put together an Atticus Finch defense of the character and list all the reasons why he/she should not die yet! And so we’d change course. I often wonder if the castmate in question ever felt a cold chill down their spine while we were deciding their fate!

TLS.TV: A strong literary parallel we see throughout the show as a whole is in relation to Moby Dick. Jeter has previously compared Chandler to Ahab in season two, with regards to the sub being his white whale at that time. Aside from the obvious references in season five, did we miss any other references to Moby Dick?

SK: Moby Dick is just a great meditation on obsession. So Chandler’s pervasive obsession with the mystery ship is really just his obsession with his own death. He knows it’s coming for him. And he feels it will come for him at sea. And so when he finally faces his inner beast at the end of the season, it’s a catharsis. This may also help answer your question about why we sunk Nathan James. We needed to bring Chandler to the very edge of his obsession and then see what he’s really made of. Is he going to submit to his own fears and inner beasts? Or is he going to find the strength to swim towards the light?

TLS.TV: Was Chandler always intended to parallel Captain Ahab?

SK: Any story of the sea that doesn’t pull from Moby Dick and The Odyssey is missing out on some great inspiration!

TLS.TV: Where do you see each surviving character after the events of season five, maybe a year down the line?

SK: Hopefully enjoying some peace and quiet.

TLS.TV: If you could have a sixth season, what would its focus be?

SK: Don’t know. It’s a big world, with lots of problems. The crew of Nathan James is always up to the challenge.

TLS.TV: Given that, especially in the age of streaming platforms, a lot of popular shows are given a second chance in terms of perhaps a mini-series or movie, is this something you would consider, given the opportunity?

SK: Won’t rule it out, but I would only do it if we had something we really wanted to say, and if my team was available to do it with me.

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So we say goodbye to the crew of the USS Nathan James once and for all, but the ship sails on in the hearts of all who loved her.