The last season of TNT’s THE LAST SHIP is upon us, and by all accounts, it is set to be the best season yet, sending the show off on its final tour of duty in fitting fashion. It has been clear from social media that the cast and crew were just as excited to film the season as we are to see it, and that excitement hasn’t waned as the premiere approaches.

Set three years after the events of season four, the promos show us that the world is a very different place: Chandler is teaching at the Naval Academy, Garnett is back, and is captain of the USS Michener, Kara is captain of the USS Nathan James, and Slattery and Meylan are both sporting Admiral insignia. Burk and Miller have been promoted, and Danny, Sasha and Wolf are on covert ops while the rest of our favourites reunite for Mayport Fleet Week.

The promos show us that the joy of the reunion quickly turns to horror, heralding the outbreak of a war that will change the lives of our characters forever. What we have seen so far is both exciting and harrowing, and what is clear is that we are in for one hell of a ride this season! The cast agrees, and a few of them took the time to tell us what they’re looking forward to, and what we should be on the lookout for.

The cast are just as eager as we are for the premiere – they’ve not seen the episodes either, and will be watching along with us. “Season five promises to be very exciting,” says EMERSON BROOKS, who plays Admiral Joe Meylan. “I, too, have heard it’s the best so far. Personally, I don’t know! I hope so, but I haven’t seen the final product yet. I do know from reading the scripts that the storyline is creative, the scope of the season is large, the story lines topical, and intense.”

JOCKO SIMS is in agreement. “This season will be more like GAME OF THRONES than any other season where, truly… No one is safe. Don’t expect some of your favorite characters to survive this season.”

“I think there’s a cliche in TV, where you always say you never know what will happen next, every character is at risk,” says KEVIN MICHAEL MARTIN. “But since this is the last season, and since it is confirmed, every single character is legitimately at risk. So from the viewers’ perspective, you’ve grown to love these characters for the past four years, and you can expect to feel, in the pit of your stomach, that every episode is going to be unexpected, and nobody is safe! Some of the stuff that happens, there’s no way to predict it, there’s no way to assess it. There’s a lot of twists and turns, and you’re not going to see any of it coming.”

If that’s not enough to make you watch this season, here’s a reminder of what STEVEN KANE told us, in last week’s exclusive interview.

“Season five brings together everything the crew of the Nathan James has been dealing with, and tests them like never before. It’s a culmination, and shows the growth, and the damage, in each of our characters’ lives. They started out as just a regular navy crew. Then suddenly they were thrust into their most important mission –  saving the world. With no time to enjoy their success, they found themselves at the center of every major disaster that came after the Red Flu. In a way, they were the most qualified to handle it, but it takes its toll on each of them, especially Chandler, who wants to leave war fighting behind.”

With the progression of time also comes the progression of careers within the show, with various characters receiving promotions, with Andrea Garnett, played by FAY MASTERSON, among them. We asked whether the promotion changed the way that Fay plays her. “I think Garnett always takes everything in stride,” she says. “To me, she always felt focused on her part as a member of the team, whatever form that took. No grandstanding or throwing her weight around, if that makes sense.”

Carlton Burk was also promoted from Lieutenant to Commander, which Jocko relished. “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,” he explains. “[I had] to step my game up to another level very quickly!”

Another recipient of a promotion is Joe Meylan. “There is a greater level of responsibility for Meylan in this season,” says Emerson. “As an admiral, he is tasked with more responsibility and more people, more lives under his command. Any decision he makes, or action he takes, has the potential to affect thousands of lives. As an actor, it’s important to recognize that awesome responsibility, and translate it through the character.”

Miller – the original baby of the crew of the Nathan James – has also moved up through the ranks, and is now a Chief Petty Officer. However, his character has really grown up through the viewers’ eyes in the last four years. “So there’s a big gap, and I get a promotion of sorts,” Kevin says. “It was hard for me, because I was under the assumption that I was going to be keeping the beard, and keeping on the muscle weight of season four. Then Steven Kane reached out to me, and said ‘with this promotion comes the need to shave’. I said, ‘my god, Steven, I’m going to look so young, and we’re doing a time jump! So I had my hairstylist come to my place, and we tested having a moustache, because I have a close friend in the Navy, and she said a Chief can have a moustache. Then Steven said ‘get that thing off your face!’ So I shaved, and I lost a little bit of weight, and I’m way thinner than I was [in season four], so from a physical standpoint, I almost look younger. So the gears have been greased, I’ve been promoted, the world is at peace, and Miller’s tossed back into a situation, once again, where he’s tested but in a different way, because… I’ve grown up! But since I’m still the youngest in the cast, you see that throughout the season.”

As always, a new season brings new challenges. Bringing a war to the screen was no mean feat in itself, as Steven Kane explains. “The audience has gotten used to big splashy action sequences,” he says. “In the pilot episode, we set the bar high by having Michael Bay direct the action sequence in the Arctic. And we never stop trying to top ourselves. Season five is about a world war, so the stakes and the scale are larger than ever. We really pushed ourselves to show the realities of war, but we also went small in some episodes, showing the ‘war at home’ and the ‘war inside ourselves’. So it’s a nice balance between giant war epic and small chamber pieces. Ultimately, you can blow everything up and make it look cool, but if it’s not about the characters, then it’s just fireworks. We never forgot that.”

Emerson found challenges in playing Meylan in a position of higher authority, too. “As an actor, the biggest challenge was keeping up with all of the moving parts and converging storylines within the season,” he says. “Season five is truly jam packed, and Meylan’s storyline is sort of a lynchpin, or a hub for almost all of them. Usually, unless information is pertinent to your role, you can focus on your independent storyline and how it affects you, while casually following the story points that don’t affect your character. In season five, all the storylines affect Meylan.”

With season five being THE LAST SHIP’s swan song, each character’s arc will be concluded by the end of the ten episodes, and it’s interesting to see the journeys that some of them have come on. Some have changed for the better, some for the worse, but the one thing that all characters have in common is that the events of the five seasons will have affected them irrevocably.

“I think there was more of a sense of gravitas – through what they had all experienced and went through, not least because Garnett lost her family,” says Fay. “There’s a grim determination in her that probably, if given a moment to reflect, would give way to deep sorrow. She channels it into caring for her crew.”

It’s clear, too, that Jocko will always have a place in his heart for Carlton Burk. “Lieutenant Burk for me has always been the heart of the ship,” he says. “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.”

Quite possibly the biggest about-face in character – at least from a viewer’s point of view – would be in Meylan. Initially seen as a sort of bad guy in season three, he has since become an invaluable and well respected member of the team. “It’s important to remember that Meylan never saw himself as a bad guy,” explains Emerson. “Just a guy in a bad situation trying to the right thing. If he had to do what happened in Season three all over again, I don’t think he would have any regrets and wouldn’t change a thing. And yes, that means taking command of Nathan James from Capt. Chandler again! In Season four he was given XO of Nathan James, which gave everyone an opportunity to get used to him, and for him to become part of the team. However, in Season five, Meylan has a new job, but his principles are the same. Do the right thing; honor his family, country, and the Navy with his actions, in that order. With that compass, what could go wrong?”

With the cast and crew seeming inordinately proud of season five, each person has something different that sticks out for them, something they want the fans to look out for, some special moment that means something.

Jocko has fond memories of episode five, “Warriors”. “I am most proud, probably, episode five,” he admits. “A lot of those are. It’s a great episode, and stands out as a very unique one among all of THE LAST SHIP episodes.” Given that the theme of the season is war, the episode title gives nothing away, so Jocko’s comments are all the more intriguing.

It’s not something we see on screen that makes Steven Kane most proud, however. “I’m most proud of the writers and the crew,” he states. “The writers and I had a big task: write season four and season five back to back, with no more than a week to recalibrate and create a brand new storyline after season four ends. Normally, we have a nine to eleven week period of development and writing before we film our first episode. For season five we didn’t have that luxury. But we were able to multitask and come up with a cool season five story and keep those scripts coming in early to help production do its job. Some of the staff have been with me since day one. Others came aboard season three, but by season five we were in the zone.

“Same holds true for the crew. By the time we got to season five, nothing fazed them. ‘You wanna blow up an entire navy base with 500 extras? No problem.’ ‘You need to film hundreds of South American soldiers and rebels near a gorge-crossing bridge in Panama? You got it.’ We had a guest visit one of our production meetings, who had come from working on smaller shows set in law offices or police squad rooms, and he nearly had a panic attack listening to us planning to shoot 115 scenes in dozens of locations (desert, water, crowded city street) in nine days. But for the crew, it was just another day on Nathan James. Very proud of this crew.”

Whatever happens this season, it sounds as though we are going to be biting our nails for its entire run.

And we can’t wait.


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