Strike Back “Shadow Warfare, Episodes 3 and 4” Review (3×03, 3×04)

7 Sep


Strike Back might just be the most entertaining show on television. It’s expertly paced, the characters are well fleshed out for what is predominantly an action-softcore hour, and the action sequences are better than those in many movies.

I’ve found that it’s much easier to review 2 episodes at once, as the seasons follow a 2-episode arc alongside an overarching storyline. Also, I can’t really judge an unfinished arc, as the first hour is usually a set up for the second. As a result, if you check back in next week for the episode 5 review, it won’t be there. I’ll be reviewing episodes 5 and 6 after the end of 6, 7 and 8 after the end of 8, and so on.

Anyway, back to the episodes. Introduced in episode 3 is Dougray Scott’s Leatherby, a charismatic, entertaining, and violent villain that is an absolute blast to watch. In addition, Kamali’s daughter, Ester, becomes a factor, giving us more of an insight into his motivations and his mental state. In fact, these two episodes build up the parallels between Kamali and Rachel Dalton (Rhona Mitra), both inherently tragic characters that we come to sympathize for. Both have to make decisions that transcend their adherence to the rules of their respective organizations (Kamali and his daughter, and Dalton and al-Zuhari’s wife). Both, in a way, succeed, as Dalton’s suspicions are validated and Ester is removed from harm’s way. Both, in a way, fail, as they both wind up getting shot. Dalton already failed, though.

What do I mean by this? Well, her arc this season has been one of self-destruction, causing her to become unhinged and desperate, determined to find and kill those responsible for Baxter’s murder. The waterboard sequence is tough to watch, and it’s a prime example of watching someone unravel before your eyes. Her death has been telegraphed since the start of the season, and when it finally comes, it’s handled extremely well. The show does a great job of maintaining that level of suspense, inducing a sense of both uneasiness and hope. We have a sense that she’s going to meet her demise, but we also have a feeling that Stonebridge and Scott will once again save the day.

Alas, that does not happen. It’s a smart way to end her arc and introduce a strange new one. She’s killed off by an IRA assassin, a new, mysterious threat to Section 20 that I’m interested to find out more about. Speaking of smart ways to end arcs, Leatherby is also killed off. I have to commend the writers for sticking to their original format and preventing him from overstaying his welcome, but also can’t help but wish his storyline had been expanded upon over a greater number of episodes. We’d be able to get a more nuanced look into his personal life, especially in regards to his boyfriend Fahran. Instead, he’s over the top in general Strike Back fashion, which is still fine. The relationship is still handled with the right amount of complexity, and it ends tragically.


The pacing in these two episodes is extremely well done, and I’m impressed at the number of storylines they weave together throughout the two. For example, they throw in Scott’s relationship with Ester, reflecting his nagging feeling of need and the fact that he has not family. Everything these two do is, to quote Leatherby, “Fun”, but it prevents them from really settling down. Still, it’s all fun. These two episodes move at breakneck speed, jumping from action scene to action scene, whether it be a chase through a minefield or a shootout in the street. They are showcases for the brilliance of this show.

Grade: A- (Episode 3: A-     Episode 4: A)

Other thoughts:

-I’m sad to see Rhona Mitra go. That picture above explains why.

-The minefield sequence is a perfect example of why this show is so endearing. It expertly blends humor and action into one thrilling sequence.

-“You should really teach English as a second language.” -Stonebridge, after Scott stabs a guy.

-The music and the close-up of Leatherby’s face before he shoots his boyfriend is kind of unnecessary.

-See you in 2 weeks.

Credit to Cinemax and Strike Back for all pictures. I own nothing.

2 Responses to “Strike Back “Shadow Warfare, Episodes 3 and 4” Review (3×03, 3×04)”

  1. Fazer September 9, 2013 at 5:45 am #

    Dude. Love the blog. You watch everything I watch. I’ll be posting my countdown for episode 4 soon. Thanks for your kind comments.

    • polarbears16 September 9, 2013 at 5:52 am #

      Thanks so much. I’ll be looking forward to your countdown.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: