“Without this life, I am nothing.”
Strike Back is primarily an action show, but it’s by no means a mind-numbing drive through a series of shootouts and explosions. It features its action beats in a propulsive and energetic manner, the entertaining characters and wonderful set design both contributing to a sense of freshness in what can be a stale genre. This is a show that knows exactly what it wants to be, and it does so with aplomb. Whether we’re talking about the steamy sex scenes or the thrilling action set pieces or the badass characters, watching Strike Back has been one of the most enjoyable television experiences I’ve had.
As I wrote in my premiere review, a big theme throughout the final season is the intersection of two worlds: the personal and the professional, the fantasy and the reality, the violent and the safe. Scott experiences it with his son during this season, finding out that it’s just extremely difficult to keep his two worlds from colliding, to keep Finn out of harm’s way. Li-Na and Locke both have to grapple with questions of purpose and identity: who are they really? What are they trying to accomplish? What costs did–and do–their actions have on their own psyches and on the people they care about? And finally, the series finale sees Stonebridge delivering an affecting monologue about him in another world, one that isn’t real because this is all he has. “I’m almost grateful because I don’t have to love or care for anyone,” he tells Oscar. It’s an understandable point because it’s more simple that way for him; after all, he’s a “soldier” (a word that’s repeated quite often throughout these ten episodes).
What we realize, however, is that being a soldier still can mean being a human. Sure, these guys might be more hardened, more cynical, more numb to the constant pain they both dish out and endure. They might believe that a life outside of the job can’t be had, and they would be right to an extent. Yet, that final sequence is a prime example of the connections they can share: as a significantly-more-nervous Whitehall sits in his office, Damien Scott and Michael Stonebridge are smiling and laughing as they speed off into the distance. Their friendship has lasted through thick and thin, and they’re better off for it. As Oscar says, “life is not so bad wherever you are. Maybe you have to get old before you can see that.”
Stonebridge may be right when he says that without this life, he is nothing. That may not necessarily be a bad thing, though. With this life, he is something.
SEASON GRADE: B+
SERIES GRADE: B+
– “Faber, we were never that good.” Great scene. Also, speaking of Faber, I must remind you all yet again to watch Spartacus. Dustin Clare, aka Faber, is in it.
-That dam shootout is just brilliantly crafted all around. One last example of the show’s impeccable action sequences.
-I really love the scene in which Scott and Stonebridge both get shot. “Great fucking plan.” Nice to have some more great moments like these between the two of them, especially in the middle of a shootout.
-It wouldn’t be Strike Back without one final sex scene.
-I know I promised to cover the entire final season, but alas, that was not meant to be. Regardless, I still thoroughly enjoyed writing about this series, one that wasn’t particularly deep, but was extremely entertaining. The first half of this final season was probably one of the weaker stretches of the show, but the ship righted itself by the time we reached the conclusion. Thank you, Strike Back, for five years of pure fun. This and Banshee ending within several months of each other makes me very sad.
Photo credit: Cinemax, Strike Back