The Last Ship's Eric Dane: Navigating a 'Very Special' Minefield Triggers 'The Best Episode We've Produced'

On TV dramas, there often are figurative minefields. But, once in a while, there are the real kind.

The heroes of TNT’s The Last Ship (airing Sundays at 9/8c) are currently facing the latter, having sailed straight into the heart of a very deadly trap where they are surrounded by no less than “very special” mines, says series lead Eric Dane, whose CNO Tom Chandler has had to reclaim command of the titular Nathan James.

Here, Dane previews the “perfectly executed” episode to come, weighs in on original cast member Rhona Mitra’s exit are surveys the action-drama’s future.

TVLINE | Going into the Season 2 finale, did you have any concern that Tom would be a “landlubber” for Season 3? Or did you know what the plan was?
I didn’t know what the plan was, and I don’t ask. I like to be surprised. But I knew Chandler would find his way back to the James. You don’t really have a show if you don’t have a ship, and I knew it was only a matter of time until he was at the helm of that thing again.

TVLINE | And he obviously prefers being out there in the middle of it, versus holding some lofty desk job.
And I never made a decision on why that is. A captain or a commander would never go on missions, would never leave his ship. Yet any time there’s a very dangerous sort of situation happening on shore, Chandler’s the first one to go. I think that’s probably because he feels so responsible for every soul on that ship, he wants to do everything in his power to make sure they’re protected. He essentially thinks that if he heads out with them on a mission,THE LAST SHIP S3 UNIT he’s doing everything he can to make sure things go according to plan.

TVLINE | What are you liking most about Season 3? Me, I’m enjoying the “war on three fronts” — Slattery (played by Adam Baldwin) and the other captives, Chandler working with the James crew to save them, President Michener (Mark Moses) and the growing political intrigue….
That’s what I love about it, that it’s so fractured right now. There are three “A” storylines happening simultaneously. Week by week, we get a little closer to each other, and eventually you have to know that the three storylines will collide.

TVLINE | Speaking of colliding: How the heck will the James extricate itself from this minefield situation? It’s not like landmines, gingerly retracing your steps with a however-many-ton ship….
Noooo. And these are very special mines. These are very special mines. We find out that the best thing is to not sit still. Sitting still could get you killed just as easily as moving forward and hitting one. We send a team out to investigate the mines, so we have a really good idea of what we’re dealing with, and then we govern ourselves appropriately. We get some help from somebody you wouldn’t think would be helpful in that capacity….. Everybody on board chips in. I think it’s honestly the best episode we’ve produced.

TVLINE | That harrowing visual made for a terrific cliffhanger.
Yeah, and [what follows] is a perfectly executed episode of television. It is a perfect 43 minutes.

the-last-ship-minefieldTVLINE | Meanwhile, does Slattery have any new tricks up his sleeve, held hostage with the others?
They’re certainly doing their best to make it known that’s where they are, and at this point they must know we’re coming for them.

TVLINE | At some point, are we going to start worrying about how to cure this mutated virus?
It may not be curable. It may not be curable….

TVLINE | How was it saying goodbye to Rhona Mitra? That was obviously a big change for the show, given how she was a key part of the first two seasons.
It was bittersweet. She did a tremendous job. In two short seasons she left an indelible impression on the audience, and her contributions were colossal as far as the story goes. But it was the next logical step, I think, given the circumstances. That when everything is seemingly perfect and back to normal, “life shows up” again.

TVLINE | Plus, as I was saying to the producers, if it came to having to make a new cure, there’s more drama in not having the brilliant Dr. Scott handy to do that.
Oh, yeah. And there’s nothing more frustrating than watching a show where it’s predictable because you know none of the main players are going to die. You get into a scrape on shore and you know the main guys will make it back onto the ship, because it’s a TV show and the regulars don’t die. On this show, people die. The characters that you invest in, the characters you love, they die on this show, because that’s real life.

TVLINE | Obviously a foundation has been laid for a past between Chandler and Sasha (Bridget Regan). Do you think enough The last Ship Season 3 Previewtime has passed since he lost his wife that we can start taking steps in that direction?
I think that’s the plan. I’ve always sorta seen Chandler by himself in a cabin in the woods with his kids, chopping wood. But I think it’s time. The passing of his wife Darien has run its course. I don’t think [romance is] the first thing on his mind, but if it presents itself, I think he would entertain it.

TVLINE | The logline for the season finale sounds like a mano-a-mano situation between Chandler and the ultimate Big Bad.
Well, we come to find out that not all of the bad guys are bad, and not all of the good guys are good.  Over the course of these next three episodes, you get it all.

TVLINE | Is there story for any possible Season 4…? Is there a place to go after this?
Yes. There is. We know where Chandler is going to be at the beginning of Season 4.

TVLINE | So, this isn’t a tidy three-season story.
Well, it is if the network doesn’t renew the show. I think the season finale will be really satisfying [if it’s a series finale], but there’s always somewhere to go. A network doesn’t ever want just three seasons of a show and then “call it a day” — unless the show is tanking, and then of course they’ll pull the plug. But we have an idea what the first five seasons look like.

TVLINE | Lastly, how has this been for you as your first, big, post-Grey’s Anatomy swing? Was it what you wanted it to be?
It has been, it really has been. It happened a lot quicker than I thought it would. I thought I would take more time off, but I left Grey’s and pretty much started working on The Last Ship within a month. Of course, the series then aired a year later. But the needle is still moving in the right direction for me, yes!

Want more scoop on The Last Ship, or for any other show? Email insideline@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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39 Comments
  1. Kevin K says:

    Wonder if The Last Ship is going to get renewed for a Season 4 now that the series is moving on without Rhona Mitra whose character Dr. Rachel Scott was “killed off” in last season’s finale.

  2. missmacey says:

    I’m still not 100% Rachel is actually dead. I half suspect there will be a big reveal where her death was faked and even Tom may not know. That being said, if she is dead, then this whole cast has no class for joking about how they purposely avoid answering questions about Rachel, and nobody could be bothered to even send a tweet that it was nice working with Rhona? The ratings are down, the show doesn’t appear to be gelling the way it used to (Due to new writers? Due to lack of Rachel? Lack of chemistry with new actors?). Honestly, if she’s gone for real then I hope this show gets cancelled. It would be the perfect comeuppance for the cast.

    • Janice Prince says:

      The cast can’t be blamed for not saying anything about Rhona being gone. They may have been “encouraged” to not say anything by the producers. If the show gets cancelled, it isn’t because of the cast; it’s because of low ratings and money.

    • Chloe says:

      I would love it if you’re right & she’s not really dead.

      • Anne says:

        I sincerely hope she’s not dead either. I’m saving the episodes on my PVR to wait and see by the season finale. I hope there’s a big reveal. *fingers crossed*

    • Normandy says:

      What exactly do you watch if you quit every time someone from the main cast is killed off?

    • Zoe says:

      I see a very big hint that she is not dead in this interview. Also people might want to check out Rhona’s Instagram for more hope. She had a pic up till today of her on the ship with caption what is dr Scott up to today. The pic was posted when they were filming . Someone must of spotted it and now is deleted.

      • I’ll go look. Was it the selfie she posted last fall where she was clearly on a ship? I’d always figured it for an old pic, so it’s odd if that’s the one that was deleted.

      • Carol_R says:

        I’d say that she’s just nice about being fired. She was the main star of the show and even if they bring her back later in the series, she won’t have been in most of the episodes. It’s not just that she’s gone. The entire show is different and it’s no longer character driven.

    • Kevin In CT says:

      I have that feeling as well, hopefully we are right! :)

    • Carol_R says:

      I hope it’s cancelled also. And it’s obvious that she was fired. Otherwise, TPTB would be trying to curry favor with the viewers. Most of the Chinese should be all dead so it’s beyond ridiculous to have storylines about Asia. IMO most Americans would have been more interested in stuff to do with Europe and South America. Or how about stories about rebuilding the U.S.

  3. Janet Hendrickson says:

    From everything I’ve read, Rhona Mitra was killed off I don think there is any charisma with the new female actor and Tom Chandler. The writers of this show may of made a big million dollar mistake. You all know that people get killed off in shows, but the stupid mistake was Dr. Scott. That cliffhanger was crazy. And it was real bad on my outlook to this situation. I still watch it but the zest isn’t there.

    • Anne says:

      Bridget Regan is a mixed bag for me. I first saw her on Beauty and the Beast where she played one of the most universally hated characters and signalled the creative nose-dive of the show….and now she’s replaced Dr Scott, so I have some iffy feelings about her. Though she was great on Agent Carter (RiP)

    • ppat says:

      I agree with you on the “no charisma” with Bridget Regan. They have “zero” chemistry. Her character is not even comparable to Dr Scott. I understand killing off a character, but not one of the main leads and so liked by the fans. I’ve watched for 2 seasons immediately as the show aired, but Sunday night, I even forgot it was airing. As you said the zest is gone. 😭. Bring back Dr Scott!

  4. Jerri says:

    I like where the show is going so far. Not a huge fan of Sasha though. She seems slippery. I would not be surprised if it turns out she’s a baddie. It’ll only hurt Chandler more. Especially if the writers make him fall for her. Having said that, if that’s the angle they’re going with in that storyline, I’ll be quite disappointed. I do like the storyline with Slattery & co though.

  5. Ellajasper says:

    I think the show is great this season. I don’t miss Dr. Scott at all. I was surprised by her death, but I think they seem to be doing fine without her.

    • Rowan says:

      I agree! I don’t miss Dr. Scott either and like that this show takes risks. It’s unpredictable and that makes for a compelling show, IMO. Chandler is the draw for me but I’d still watch if they decided to kill him off because there’s a lot to love even without his presence. (Although he’s got a very commanding presence and would be sorely missed.)

      I wish people would give Sasha (Bridget Regan) a chance. She’s a very talented actress and her character has a lot of potential, much more so than Dr. Scott. And I happen to think she has a lot more chemistry with Chandler. No contest.

      And has anyone considered that Mitra’s exit could have been at her request? Either way, she’s not missed by this viewer at all.

  6. HurricaneTaylor says:

    Have anyone considered the fact that Rachel’s death is not an issue of story but an issue of bad blood on the set? Because looking at Rhona Mitra’s Instagram posts I’m 90% sure something went wrong between the scenes. Honestly, with the way she was shading other actors and producers on her social media, it’s no wonder she’s off the show. Besides not one person from the cast, crew or creators thanked her or said good bye. She clearly pissed some people off.

    Most important fact is: This season is great, I love new characters especially Jesse and Allison. Writing is amazing as always and I like how the characters are tested in new situations and environments. One problem I have is the lack of Tex.

    • Zoe says:

      Can you link to this “shade” I see none on her official account. If anything she is still heavily promoting the show on her Instagram account. Which I say is really nice if she were cut from a show.

      • HurricaneTaylor says:

        For example pic from 18 weeks ago with a guy who was a stand in for Michael on Rachel’s computer. TvLine is not letting me post links.

        “This one walks the walk in a town laced with faux heroes and hypocrites who demand bigger trailers fatter paychecks better whisky… Etc..etc…Role models? Hmmm…
        Your loss @thelastshiptnt, we’ll keep the real men where they belong.”
        You mean this is no “shading”? She sounds like kid who didn’t got it’s way.

        • Rowan says:

          Wow, I just saw that post. I’ve always viewed her as a mediocre actress and she comes across as a holier-than-thou ***** on social media. (Sorry.) If you need more proof, just read some of her other IG posts (for example, the ones in a January 2016 pic of her holding a handgun where she tells a guy who challenged her pompous remarks to “get the **** off her page” after ridiculing his spelling and grammar). Yeah, she’s a real class act. (Not.)

          • HurricaneTaylor says:

            Another one, post from 9 weeks ago, picture of her in captain’s seat
            “I’ve been negligent, apparently.
            So, for fans of #TheLastShip I will start posting more images from the show until we find out the fate of #DrRachelScott in June.
            Apologies to those who prefer to focus on real life heroes with real life solutions”

            Again, you just have to read between the lines.

            Re: Rowan, I don’t blame her, maybe a liitle harsh but the guy was being an a**hole. I’m with her on the gun control thing but I’m not form US so I’m not going to say more about it.
            I do agree with you that she sometimes acts like she’s better than others and her beliefs are the only ones that are right.

          • Rowan says:

            Well, in all fairness. he was only an a**hole after she told him to get the **** off her page because she didn’t like his initial comment. He actually made a good point about her being a hypocrite in said comment. She posts quite a few pics of her holding firearms for her various movie and/or TV roles–how she makes a living–and yet she denounces guns repeatedly in her opinionated lectures (aka: comments). Heck, I just pulled a few of the IG gun pics and she even alludes to poaching humans in one of them. That’s kind of promoting guns & violence; Liam Neeson is guilty of the same thing, denouncing guns while starring in violent movies.
            She even made some comment in a TLS panel about how she was the most qualified cast member to fire a gun but wasn’t allowed to because of her character. (She went on to add something about being “pregnant and chained to the kitchen sink. Is she suggesting a female character can only be “tough” if she has a gun?) It’s on her Twitter page. She can’t have it both ways and if she makes such comments, she shouldn’t be surprised when people call her on it. Just sayin’…

          • Kevin In CT says:

            Whoa, I thought she was a good castmate until all this…sigh.

  7. Nix says:

    I still think Doctor Scott’s death was a stupid move. It could be brilliant, but you can’t kill off one of the main characters and explain it in interviews. I thought she could not survive, but had never guessed that they were not going to film the final scene or something. It was disappointing, other minor characters died and was more impressive.
    About Sacha, the situation is not very fair to her. I mean, introducing a new character like a replacement for another, it a bad idea. I think they must develop the character at first, she had more potential and it’s wasted.

  8. Ange says:

    Not watching without Mitra.

  9. Lisa Pritchett says:

    Really love this show. Hope it gets a S4 & S5!

  10. Carol_R says:

    I dropped this show after they fired Rhona Mitra and changed the direction of the show. All it is now is a bunch of fight scenes strung together. It’s got no heart anymore and is no longer a character driver show.

  11. Chuck Fields says:

    Slogan for season four…#thelastshipsavingmankind

  12. Ana says:

    As a big fun of Mitra’s character I was very disappointed with her death but ok what to do, these things happen. What bothered me most was that they didn’t even give us the chance to say goodbye to the character, they ended the previous season with a gunshot and they opened the next one with just some stamps with her face on them! I mean come on people she deserves something more than that, without Dr Scott the series would have just been about a ship sailing along the oceans! On top, you introduce right away a new female character…of course people will “hate” her. Apart from that, I find the new season quite dull compared to the previous ones. I watched again seasons 1&2 and according to my opinion they were far better than the new one, so far of course ! I really hope I will find my old enthusiasm for the show because it has been a great show.

  13. West Coast Nomad says:

    I just canceled my Season Pass from TiVO. I’ve tried to watch the new season but I agree it feels like empty action now. If fans of the previous seasons are being completely honest, the show just isn’t as good anymore. The first couple of seasons had a great balance of action, plot and characters, and the tension between Capt. Chandler and Dr. Scott was fantastic. I’m bummed, as this was a great show I looked forward to every week, but someone made a poor decision in killing off too many good characters. it feels like the show has lost its way. If Dr. Scott does show up again in some major twist, I’d check the show out again.

  14. Michael Steinmetz says:

    I tried to watch this season, but it just feels empty. The death of DR Scott destroyed this show. There are no interesting relationships. This show has devolved into empty “action”. Not only did the show kill off Dr Scott, it lost that end-of-the world feel to it. Now it’s like politics as usual. This was one of the best shows on television. Now, I have no intentions of watching it again.

  15. Kevin Fowler says:

    I personally think Chandler will be next president of the United States at beginning of season 4. Why, because after the end of season 3 there will be no one else the American people can trust.

  16. susan smith says:

    I stopped watching it after the first show. The only thing that can save this turkey is to bring back Rhona Mitra. It’s floundering no matter how much they hype it! She was the heart and soul of the show and the only one who can really act!

    • HurricaneTaylor says:

      The only one who can act? In episode 12 of season 3, Marissa Neitling (Kara) out-acted all of the old-timers, including Rhona. At this point Neitling is giving all of the actors from this show run for their money.