‘The Last Ship’ Comic-Con Interview: Producer Hank Steinberg Talks About the Broken World and the Immunes

Last year, TNT’s breakout hit The Last Ship introduced us to a world in chaos amid an outbreak of a deadly virus that wiped out millions worldwide. The world’s last hope rested with a single navy ship – The U.S.S. Nathan James – which housed a doctor close to finding a cure and a crew determined to go to the ends of the Earth to help her get there.

After successfully creating a cure, season two is dealing with the challenges that come with dispersing it, as well as encountering individuals who are against it.

“This season is about what do they find when they get home; what is that world going to be?” executive producer Hank Steinberg told us. “They come home to a very broken America and this season is about trying to fix that and trying to combat the villains that are very, very actively and energetically trying to stop them from doing precisely that. Their job is to try and save the world with a cure and put the world back together in a way, and the villains don’t want that.”

Our group’s biggest challenge currently rests with an opposing group known as the Immunes. Steinberg explained to us the situation with the Immunes during a roundtable interview at Comic-Con on July 9, emphasizing that not all of the Immunes are bad guys. They’re simply “decent people who have lost their whole families and have been taken in by this cult.”

“It’s a very interesting combination for the villains and for the people that they’re trying to recruit into their group,” Steinberg said. “There’s a layering within the group. It’s kind of like Gestapo were the most horrible and then there were the people who went along that maybe didn’t know everything that was happening but were part of it. Our heroes haven’t decided who’s in the Gestapo and who’s just being conned, and that makes it very difficult for them.”

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Read the full interview with Steinberg below:

What can you tell us about what’s coming up this season? 

The first season was about finding a cure and getting home. This season is about what do they find when they get home; what is that world going to be? They come home to a very broken America and this season is about trying to fix that and trying to combat the villains that are very, very actively and energetically trying to stop them from doing precisely that. Their job is to try and save the world with a cure and put the world back together in a way, and the villains don’t want that, and there’s a lot a chaos they’re coming into contact with, and they’re coming into contact with a broken world where people don’t trust and even the good people that want their help are going to be very distrustful that they’re really coming back with the cure, that they can really be trusted. It’s going to be a pretty exciting season.

This season is much darker than last season. What can you say about this season’s tone?

I wouldn’t say it was a conscious choice to make the show darker, but I think by the very nature – the fact that they were out to see and in a bit of their own bubble – I think if you look at the first season, “El Torro” was a very, very dark episode; as dark as anything we’ve done here. But it was organic in that we landed in this place; we found this ruthless drug lord who was raping 12-year old girls pretty dark. We didn’t have that many opportunities in the organic storytelling to get to land to find out what was going on there. Now that they have the cure and have solved that part of the mission, they’re coming home, now the world is opening up to – this is where the storytelling is wanting to take us. What’s happening in this world they’re coming home to? It’s going to be dark because that’s what happens when you have a breakdown of civilization. We’re not going to shy away from that by any means. We’re just going to go deeper and deeper into that and what does it mean; what makes the task that they have that much darker.

Were you inspired by any other dystopian series? 

There’s obviously been a number of shows, books, movies that have dealt in this arena. One of the fun things about this show is that it’s sort of sci-fi but it’s real-fi in a way because it’s grounded; it’s more grounded, it’s not zombies, it’s not aliens. It’s grounded in one of the most ruthless killers there is, which is a pandemic, which I think everybody really fears. Then it’s about the breakdown of society that comes on the heels of that. I think we are conscious of what other shows, movies, books have tried to do, and not that we run away from it, we just try to stay really true to what we’re doing and focus on what we’re doing and what our show is about what the culture of the navy is about. What’s fun is that you’ve got a world that’s in complete chaos and disorder, and there’s nothing more orderly than a functioning military vessel. That disparity between the cleanliness, the discipline, the order that exists on the ship and the anarchy outside is so palatable, and I think that’s what makes this show distinctive in an arena where other forms of entertainment tackle similar ideas and themes. I think what we have and what’s appealing to people is that the conflict between how order and disciplined things are on the ship and how crazy things are on the outside world, and that’s why in a number of episodes, in a number of different ways, from last season and coming up in this season, the captain trying to keep that order under control. He sees it’s so vital and he cannot abide any moral relativity because the world is falling apart. He has to keep the order on that ship where he knows it’ll all go to shit. He’ll lose the crew if he gives an inch on what it means to have that order. He cannot have that disorder on the ship or the mission will fail and they will fail. It’s a really fun internal conflict that’s in the DNA of the show that keeps things very – it makes our path – it lays it out for us if we stay true to it.

 

What can you tell us about the Immunes and their involvement coming up?

The Immunes I think are one of the great enemies, villains hopefully that people see on TV period. We’re really proud of what we were able to come up with that group because we think it’s a really original idea of these people who are filling a power vacuum, who believe they are the chosen. Some of them believe they’re the chosen and some are just in it for the power, and some of the people, as you’ll find out as the series goes on, are decent people who have lost their whole families and have been taken in by this cult and have been convinced, ‘Oh I’m so grief stricken that I can be persuaded. I either have to decide the world is the most horrible place, there’s no God, or I’m chosen, and I’m part of something, and that’s how I can put one foot in front of another because, yeah, my whole family got wiped out, and the reason I’m here is because I guess I’m special, I guess I’m chosen, I guess it happened for a reason, and then I don’t have to feel so grief-stricken about what happened.’ And it’s a very interesting combination for the villains and for the people that they’re trying to recruit into their group. There’s a layering within the group. It’s kind of like Gestapo were the most horrible and then there were the people who went along that maybe didn’t know everything that was happening but were part of it. Our heroes haven’t decided who’s in the Gestapo and who’s just being conned, and that makes it very difficult for them.

The Last Ship airs Sundays at 9/8c on TNT.







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