for the pilot below, so beware.
I enjoyed it a lot, but it's extremely implausible, and they tried to pack way too much stuff into a 42-minute episode. This is another pilot that should have been two hours, or at least 90-minutes. That being said, since it's so tight on time, once the ball gets rolling after ten minutes or so of set-up and character introductions, it's pretty tense and exciting action and drama from then on (I'm counting Autumn Reeser in her underwear, obviously). I'll give it an "A-" and call it tied with Elementary
for my favorite new pilot of the season so far.
They set up several factions in each setting, with a group we're supposed to root for and one we're not, and some neutral or ambiguous parties in between. On the sub there are the Captain Chaplin (Andred Brougher, awesome as always), the XO (Scott Speedman) and his officers vs. Chief of the Boat Cobb (whose name is taken right from Crimson Tide
- though played by Robert Patrick this time) and his followers who may think they're just following orders or may be part of the conspiracy in Washington. In Washington we have an admiral whose daughter is aboard the USS Colorado and a corporate weapon's exec (Reeser) who installed a new stealth system aboard the sub, and then we have a shadowy cabal of under-secretaries and junior administration officials who may or may not be working with the President, or who may be manipulating him behind the scenes in a bloodless coup. On the island we have the NATO monitoring station personnel and islanders essentially taken hostage by the sub crew (though I'm sure they'll work together) vs. the local thug/drug lord who runs things on the island and thinks he's he's badass enough to threaten a SEAL until the SEAL "politely" talks him out of it by calmly telling him exactly how he's going to kill them all. The SEALS are the ambiguous factor, since they were involved in an incident in Pakistan that precipitated the events of the show, but the attack was the result of "bad intel" (or the conspirators misleading them) and has left the new team leader (the original team leader being killed in the attack on the sub) feeling guilty about his role in the subsequent war.
So there's a lot to work with storywise and to flesh out a full season of episodes with, whereas the sub crew vs the shadow government thing by itself wouldn't lend itself to that alone, especially considering the whole island being taken hostage thing could really be solved in about five minutes with stealth bombers instead of the B-1s they sent after them in the episode that showed up on radar and gave them time to respond.
It's interesting that while there are factions you're clearly supposed to support, and they're originally good people put into an impossible situation they were never prepared for, they aren't really "good guys." I mean, the protagonist (Captain Chapel - Brougher) (and his officers for that matter) is pretty much a mega-maniacal monster for what he's done: fired a nuclear weapon at Washington DC, detonated it 200 miles off the coast, took an island full of civilians hostage and put them in harm's way from a government cabal that's already nuked Pakistan twice and fired on its own sub. He could have surfaced in a friendly nation and requested asylum and told the press his story. I get that in order to make them believe that yuou'll follow through on your threats, they have to believe you're crazy enough to do it, but the dude actually nuked the ocean outside of Washington (which was pretty ballsy for the show to do).
No big deal, though, right? It's not like 200-miles off of Washington DC is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world or anything. It's not like it's going to be pouring radioactive rain on the East Coast or irradiate the fish supply. It's not like whales travel through there. The guy should have gotten an honorary "Fuck the Whales" t-shirt to wear at his murder trial for the hundreds or thousands of recreational boaters, fishermen, and cargo ship sailors he probably killed and all the people on the East Coast he's giving cancer to for the next couple of decades.
As far as the technical details go, the CGI is great, though they haven't really mastered getting the sub to move entirely realistically (though that's not really their fault, probably). The nuclear launch sequence was fantastic. It's really movie grade effects. The Hawaiian scenery on the fictional island of St. Marina is beautiful and I can see why the captain would want to build a new life there, even if his wishes are highly unrealistic and play into his megalomania and messianic complex a bit.
In case anyone is interested, the haunting and very appropriate song in the trailer and the episode is Nothing But the water by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
I hope this show can be a hit for Shawn Ryan after the excellent The Chicago Code
were both canceled. He certainly does moral ambiguity and complex interweaving plots and divided loyalties quite well.