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Strike Back: Legacy Episode 10 Review

9 Oct

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“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.

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Strike Back: Legacy Episode 1 Review

31 Jul


“Violence is not the answer. Violence can never solve the differences we have.”

It’s telling that this statement by Ambassador Robin Foster is intercut with a violent shootout, with people dying all around as he delivers a bomb-filled package to the North Koreans. It’s part of a sequence that’s frustratingly devoid of logic–he’s really just walking through the embassy with a package that nobody bothers to check, and Locke doesn’t mention that there’s a bomb?–but it also strikes at the main theme of the episode: the inevitable intersection between family and work.

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Cinemax renews “Strike Back” for a final season of sexy explosions

28 Oct

627Cinemax announced today that its critically acclaimed show Strike Back has been renewed for a 10-episode final fourth/fifth season of explosions and sex. It will air in fall 2014, and once again, not enough people will watch it, instead electing to go out and spend time with people on their Friday nights; oh, the nerve.

Anyway, the final season will presumably once again not allow Stonebridge to have a sex scene, instead pushing him to the background to masturbate to Scott and whatever new woman he’s picked up. In addition, the “awesome action scenes with explosions and shooting” will be returning in a recurring role, consisting of the dispatching of a bunch of terrorists and Scott and Stonebridge prancing through a field of bodies in tutus while sipping strawberry lemonade. Scott will then choke on his straw, and Stonebridge will punt him off a bridge; this will segue into some more fantastic action scenes.

As disappointing as this news is, you can’t help but be grateful to Cinemax for allowing the show to go out on its own terms. If this were on Showtime, we would have 8 seasons of crap culminating in a final scene in which Scott and Stonebridge are working as lumberjacks for Kamali’s dead body.

Still, after the show ends, we at least still have Banshee and Cinemax’s other softcore porn series, entitled “Sexy Sex In A House” and “Let’s Go To Hawaii, Then Have Hot Sex”.

I will be covering the final season next fall. I’m looking forward to it; it should be fun.

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

Strike Back “Shadow Warfare, Episode 10” Review (3×10/4×10)

19 Oct

627-10This season of Strike Back has been one hell of a ride, and the season finale ties a bow on “Shadow Warfare” with a resounding bang. There’s something inherently thrilling about seeing this show at the top of its game, delivering week after week of brilliantly choreographed and directed fight scenes, as well as more complex character work and chemistry than a show like this has any right of having. Yet, we saw it unfold this year, and it’ll be a long wait for next season.

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Strike Back “Shadow Warfare, Episode 9” Review (3×09/4×09)

12 Oct



“So they all just kill each other, huh? Makes you wonder why we even need to be there!”

The penultimate episode of this season ramps up the intensity and the action, delivering shocks and thrills at every turn. It’s hard to believe that we’re already nearly finished with the season, but here we are.

Let’s talk about Ester. As Kamali’s daughter, she imbues a sense of reality into the proceedings; she’s just an innocent girl caught in a web of lies, betrayal, and violence. Scott recognizes this, and she serves as his “other side”, a side that wants to escape from this web. Amidst all the action in this episode, he sits down to have a revealing conversation with her after informing her of her dad’s death. It’s a quietly heartbreaking moment, as Scott opens up about his lack of connection to his child. He’s the kind of guy that’s always needed someone to connect with, and that’s why he turns so often to sex. Stonebridge fills his professional and brotherly needs, but Ester inspires his paternal instincts.

As for Kamali, who’s outed as Al-Zuhari at episode’s end, I’m not sure about this decision. On the one hand, it sets up for an explosive season finale in which Scott and Stonebridge come face to face with a supposed ally; on the other hand, it’s much more powerful to have Kamali go out with his motives ambiguous. He was just a regular person in a tight spot before now. Now, however, he’s a criminal mastermind that’s outsmarted everyone, and it winds up being Dalton that was right the whole time. We don’t see much of him here, so I’ll wait till next week to pass judgment on the decision.

Still, even with the uncertainty over that final reveal, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. It’s pretty much nonstop action, the location moving from a carnival to a building to a train and improving each time. One thing that never goes bad is the action, and it’s good to know the show’s still got it.



-The Section 20 folks can’t seem to catch a break in this episode. When you think about it, they’ve actually been outsmarted at every turn; they haven’t been very successful: Dalton went off the rails, Scott and Stonebridge can’t keep anyone alive in this episode, and Kamali’s Al-Zuhari. It’s smart of the show to parallel this with Scott and Stonebridge’s slivers of hope at leaving.

-The train scene is awesome. It reminds me of the opening sequence of “Skyfall”, which is impressive considering this show has very little money compared to that movie.

-What’s up with Richmond and Stonebridge?

-I want to see Scott fight in a vat of cotton candy.

-Locke has had his ups and downs, but I’m warming up to his character more.

-Stonebridge slicing that guy’s artery…I shudder to think about it. Looks like he’s all right now.

-Season finale next week, followed by the six episode “Chris Ryan’s Strike Back” starting October 18th

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

Strike Back “Shadow Warfare, Episode 8” Review (3×08/4×08)

5 Oct



Let’s talk about Leo Kamali. Is he a traitor? Is he a hero? The answer is no.

What Kamali is is a man that just wants to survive. Yes, he’s working with Section 20, but he sells Scott and Stonebridge out to save himself. Yes, he sells them out, but it’s out of necessity. He isn’t exactly loyal to anyone but his daughter, and while he does have a set of morals, what ultimately trumps all is his need to live. It’s completely understandable, and it’s what makes his character more interesting, more human, amidst all the chaotic action and cartoonish villains. Don’t get me wrong, Scott and Stonebridge are two of the most entertaining characters on television, but Leo Kamali portrays what it is to be human in an inhumane world.

This inhumanity is in full force tonight. Kamali is shot in the head at episode’s close as a necessary, yet tragic, end for his character. Stonebridge finds out that his captors are weaponizing a Smallpox variant for Al-Zuhari. Richmond and Martinez grapple with the inhumanity of allowing a woman get murdered in front of them. All contribute to the theme, one that lends itself to the bigger idea of escape: escape from Section 20, escape from our moral blinders, escape from our lives.

Stonebridge talks about this when he remarks that he wished it would all just end. Yes, there’s no doubt that he’ll make it out alive, but the poison really allows him to reflect on his life, allowing us more insight into his character. Last week, the prison lent itself to the constricting situation, and this week, the mysterious lab does the same. It really brings him to the breaking point.

A breaking point is where we’re at this season. Locke makes an impassioned speech about avenging Kamali’s death, one that is an exciting lead in to the final two episodes of the season. It’s hard to believe we’re already here, but here’s hoping to an exciting finish.



-“I feel better already.” “Really?” “No.”

-That shot of the guard falling off the guard tower is strangely beautiful.

-Stonebridge’s ass makes an appearance.

-Scott gets it on with Nina.

-I’ll miss Zubin Varla as Kamali. That final conversation with the daughter is, although cliched, heartbreaking in retrospect. I fully expect Scott to remedy the situation.

-I wonder what the chances are that the show would kill off one of its leads. It’d be a gutsy move, but I’m not sure it would work.

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

Strike Back “Shadow Warfare, Episode 7” Review (3×07/4×07)

28 Sep



“No taking this personally, but your plan could’ve used a little more finesse.”

The back half of this episode is a non-stop thrill ride, with the confines of the prison being used to deliver heart-pounding action sequences that culminate in an excellent cliffhanger. Stonebridge is captured along with Andersson, and Scott and Nina are captured in the prison.

Let’s back up. The entire premise of the episode involves Scott and Stonebridge infiltrating a Russian prison to break out a British computer hacker, and the aforementioned Nina is a Russian double agent working with Locke. Obviously, the prison break plot has been a staple of countless action shows and movies, but Strike Back is able to inject its own humor and twists that help it stay fresh.

Prison, though, is a place of confinement, and Scott and Stonebridge have never been more confined, both literally and figuratively. We continue to see the desire to leave Section 20 in both the leads, and the prison scenes contain some nice character development. Scott receives results that say that Stonebridge has been exposed to a lethal poison, therefore confirming the fact that it isn’t a mental problem. Scott decides to tell his partner, which is an excellent decision on his part; he can’t keep avoiding the truth. Stonebridge is the kind of guy who’d rather be subject to a poison than a mental problem.

Another interesting development in this episode arises with Kamali, who seems to be going off the rails in a situation that emulates Dalton’s. His suspicion that he’s been exposed as a double agent strike deep into his mind, and he kills a bank guard and Kamali’s bodyguard whilst closing Al-Zuhari’s bank accounts. The parallels between him and Dalton are coming more into focus now, and it’ll be interesting to see where it all heads.

Grade: B+

-The first scene is classic Strike Back.

-I’ll be back with more later. I just wanted to get this up quickly.

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

Strike Back “Shadow Warfare, Episode 6” Review (3×06/4×06)

22 Sep


Just a couple quick bullet points coming up…

-There seems to be a sense of finality with Scott and Stonebridge, and although I’m sure they won’t exit the show, they’re contemplating a life outside of Section 20. Their conversation in the car, Stonebridge’s injury, Scott’s seeking out of an ex…all are telling signs of fatigue. The diamonds represent their way out.

-Of course, Stonebridge seems to be fine at episode’s end. I feel like they hit the thematic elements a bit too on the nose in this episode, as he’s the one to take out the bad guy in a scene reminiscent of last week’s cliffhanger. His affliction was probably a mental problem, but I wish the storyline gained some more traction.

-Locke’s character seems to be getting explored more, as this episode reveals a deeper connection between him and McKenna’s brother. The episode does a nice job of reflecting Locke’s dangerous position, and we always have that feeling that the show might just kill him off. That won’t happen, at least for a couple of episodes.

-The conversation at the end between Stonebridge and Locke continues the season’s theme of past tragedy, as Locke asks whether killing Hanson satisfied Stonebridge in any way.

-McKenna dies, leaving the show without a formidable Big Bad. Al-Zuhari is waiting in the wings, but it seems like the show is reverting back to its pre-Conrad Knox times by waiting until the end to reveal him.

-The mortar attack on the embassy is really creative, and one of the better action sequences they’ve done.

-I’m extremely intrigued by Kamali’s character, and he’s inherently interesting no matter what side he’s on. However, I love the fact that the show is playing with standard conventions and having him work with Section 20. It’s obvious he has something hidden, and it’s always possible he’s playing the long con. His short-lived dynamic with Dalton was well done, though, and his interactions with the team right now are great.

-Stonebridge turns down Martinez!

-I apologize for the delay in posting.

Grade: B

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

Strike Back “Shadow Warfare, Episode 5” Review (3×05/4×05)

14 Sep

1185816_669725489706595_1893072589_nIF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR MY SEASON FINALE (EPISODE 10) REVIEW, HERE IT IS:

After the major events of last week, Strike Back was bound to take a step down. However, that’s not to say this episode is bad; it just moves slower, resulting in more of a table-setting episode than usual.

Before we get to the episode…I know I said that I would only be posting reviews every other week, but I decided to bring back my weekly reviews. Last week’s recap was extremely popular, and I wouldn’t want to take episodes off, especially considering the short length of the season and lack of many recaps around the internet. I just thought it wouldn’t be fair to all those that want to read commentary on each episode after it airs.

Anyway, this episode shifts focus to Mairead MacKenna, the IRA agent responsible for the murder of Agent Dalton. Section 20 pursues and captures her after receiving word that al-Zuhari’s forces and the IRA will deliver a joint attack on an unnamed target in the West. This is a segue into a sequence of interrogation scenes, delivered by Philip Locke, a person onto which the show has been shifting focus over the past few episodes. While Dalton was spiraling downward, Locke was doing the opposite, and now that Dalton’s gone, he becomes more of a presence in the show.

It’s chilling to watch him slowly turn the tables on MacKenna, using her dead brother as leverage. She starts sweating, tensing up, and clutching her fists angrily, while he maintains a steely demeanor throughout. Yet, it seems as if he’s a stereotypical intelligence agent; he has baggage, but he’s able to hide it well. For the most part. Notice his reaction after she remarks, “The Philip Locke?” He seems almost anxious, and it’s evident that she’s struck a chord. It is very likely that he has a more complicated relationship with MacKenna and her brother than is revealed here.

Over with Scott and Stonebridge, we also start to see difficulty maintaining the facade of a badass Section 20 agent. Stonebridge is afflicted with physical problems, while Scott is afflicted with the emotional toll Dalton’s death has taken. He’s not so much surprised as disappointed at the other members of his team for not feeling some joy at the Major’s death. Scott and Stonebridge have always relied on their physical prowess and ability to move on, so it’s interesting to see if these effects will be long term.


We know that it’ll at least continue into the next episode. After a fun, yet ridiculous (more on this in “Other thoughts”) shootout in an airport, Stonebridge is unwilling to take a shot as MacKenna holds a gun to Locke’s head. Obviously, he’s afraid for his boss’s life, but we can also tell that whatever’s troubling him is really burrowing deep into his mind. He’s going to be tested, much like Locke, the seemingly unbreakable agent that is now in the clutches of the IRA. It seems as if Dalton’s death has set us up for the character arcs to come.

Grade: B

Other thoughts:

-The airport scene is ridiculous. I know that Strike Back isn’t all that realistic, but these guys (and gals) are smart enough to not let MacKenna get away so easily. Every action star on TV should follow this statement: BATHROOM=BAD. BATHROOM=BAD. BATHROOM=BAD.

-The action scenes aren’t quite as fun this week, but I do like the opening scene. It’s very well shot and intense.

-So, we have the most gratuitous sex we’ve had all season. I’m not complaining, especially since it involves two women. It’s an essential part of the fabric of the show.

-Martinez asking Stonebridge out as they’re heading toward a firefight is so great.

-Classic Strike Back moment: Stonebridge’s elbow to MacKenna’s ribs in the car, and Scott’s small smile afterwards

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

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.

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