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

12 Oct

Strike-Back-Season-3-Episode-9-Preview

IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR MY SEASON FINALE (EPISODE 10) REVIEW, HERE IT IS: https://polarbearstv.com/2013/10/19/strike-back-shadow-warfare-episode-10-review-3x104x10/

“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.

GRADE: A-

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-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 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: https://polarbearstv.com/2013/10/19/strike-back-shadow-warfare-episode-10-review-3x104x10/

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.

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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.

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