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Last Resort’ looks like the fall’s most thrilling new show

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The heroes of Last Resort plot their next move.

The Details

LAST RESORT
Three and a half stars
Thursdays, 8 p.m., ABC.

The first episode of ABC’s Last Resort plays like the first half of an excellent feature film, which makes it engrossing to watch but also presents some issues for the show going forward: Primarily, how is such a seemingly limited premise going to sustain an open-ended TV series? The second episode answers that question largely by stalling for time, so it’s still hard to see how the show will work over the course of a whole season (or several). But even when it’s spinning its wheels, Last Resort is still entertaining thanks to its top-notch cast and well-crafted suspense sequences.

Andre Braugher leads that excellent cast as the stalwart captain of a U.S. Navy submarine who goes rogue when ordered to launch nuclear missiles at Pakistan. He takes his sub and his crew to a sparsely populated island with a NATO early-warning station, setting up as a de facto independent nation, while back in the U.S. a conspiracy is, of course, brewing. Scott Speedman complements Braugher nicely as the submarine’s second-in-command, and Robert Patrick (as a dissenting officer) and Autumn Reeser (as a political operative back in Washington, D.C.) emerge as standouts in the large supporting cast.

Braugher is brilliant at giving rousing speeches, but he can also project menace and anguish when it’s called for, and the show makes sure to balance its military thriller with plenty of emotional moments. That those moments are every bit as involving as the bigger mysteries bodes well for the show’s long-term future.

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