It’s a pretty awesome time to be a Strike Back fan. The third season just went out on a suitably action packed bang. A final season has been commissioned, and while this is slightly sad, it at least means the show should end properly and won’t risk going on for longer than it needs to. Plus American Strike Back fans are currently getting to see how it all began with Strike Back: Origins (which ends tonight on Cinemax). With all this Strike Back goodness floating around I thought it was the perfect time to pitch an idea that’s been bubbling in my mind for a while now to my EIC regarding Strike Back.
Unfortunately she didn’t think a ‘200 reasons why Strike Back is amazing and if you’re not watching it, then you are dead to me and the terrorists have already won!’ was a great title or idea – so after much bargaining, we settled on ’10 Great Moments From Strike Back’… kind of. Also, as I was only allowed to find 10 moments from a show that contains more consistently great moments than I can count, I had to work out what exactly made some moments better than others. Obviously this involved me doing my best Will Hunting impression and working it out using equations (Scott + Stonebridge + guns + goons (x15) = Awesome) and statistics (like murders per minute/ how many times Scott swears per gunfight, etc).
After much effort (and many cigarettes), I’ve finally decided on my top 10 favourite moments from the four seasons and here they are. Don’t worry if your favourite moment isn’t mentioned (I had to leave a good few out), that’s what the comment section is for.
John Porter thinks of the children!
In episode four of Strike Back: Origins, John Porter (along with his former target turned reluctant partner, Masuku) decide to help out an orphanage full of kids. Sure, this leads to some mushy ‘Aw, you aren’t such a bad guy are you, Porter?’ moments but thankfully these are quickly forgotten when Porter storms an enemy camp to rescue some kidnapped kids and then gets into a massive fire-fight with Masuku against a rogue general and his seemingly endless supply of men. Not only is this John Porter’s most action packed episode but the chemistry and banter between Porter and Masuka works so brilliantly that I have to assume it was one of the reasons why the show went for the ‘buddy’ angle in the next few seasons.
Michael Stonebridge is a guy who gets the job done no matter what the cost is… and the personal costs for Stonebridge has been pretty damn high. The Stonebridge/Hanson storyline in Vengeance was great. Hansen murdered Michael’s wife, Kerry, in retaliation for Michael being forced to kill Hanson’s brother after he went crazy during a training exercise. The storyline gave Michael a nemesis (something I think every action hero needs), emotional pathos and a need for vengeance that managed to distract the usually focused and unflappable soldier.
There were some great moments during this battle of wits, including a satisfying climatic final fight, but the stand out moment has to be their first meeting after the murder. Stonebridge completely forgets his responsibilities (which involves keeping a nuclear weapons scientist from being kidnapped) as he spots Hanson. Hanson drives a car at Stonebridge. Stonebridge stands in the way of the oncoming car and fires off his gun whilst screaming like a mad man. The ice cold son of a bitch even pauses to reload before finally jumping out of the way. What a guy.
Damien Scott is a tough guy. He’s also a pretty reckless guy. No scene demonstrates these two qualities better than the time Scott went undercover as a hacker to infiltrate PIRA bomb-maker, Daniel Connelly’s gang (who are working for Latif). As a test of loyalty to check if Scott is who he says he is, Connelly straps a bomb to his chest and then lets the timer run out. Knowing that any attempt to escape will reveal his true identity, Scott patiently waits to see what will happen. Thankfully, it’s a test and the explosion is aimed away from his body. Then, to celebrate not only surviving a bomb but also being accepted into the gang, he decides to have sex with Connelly’s girlfriend. Like I said, reckless.
Murder most horrid
Strike Back likes to kill off main cast members at a shocking rate. So much so that it was quite hard to pick just one to list in this section. There was Rhona Mitra’s Dalton and her unexpected downward spiral and ultimate demise. Kate Marshall (Eva Birthistle) getting blown to smithereens within the first few episodes. Hell, even John Porter got offed without fanfare (which annoyed me quite a bit the first time I saw it because honestly, I expected him to put up more of a fight).
However, the one that sticks with me the most was when Major Sinclair (played by Rhashan Stone) was murdered in cold blood. After being captured and held captive by Knox’s men, Sinclair is lead out to a courtyard in the rain. Still believing that the people holding him captive are legit, the realisation that he has been betrayed slowly sinks in and is horrible to watch right up until he is shot in the head. Thankfully, the rest of the team escape (with a little help from Scott and Stonebridge), and Michelle Lukes’ Richmond makes sure that Sinclair’s death is avenged… repeatedly.
Morse code in-joking
The banter and bromance between Stonebridge and Scott adds a necessary level of heart to the show, which in turn helps keep us invested in the characters. It’s also pretty good at raising a chuckle or two in between all the violence. And though there are some cracking one-liners peppered throughout the four seasons, nothing made me laugh more than when Scott and Stonebridge (who incidentally had been captured by their enemies and were probably minutes away from death) used Morse code to make an in-joke about their difference on opinions concerning whether you ‘Go’ on ‘3.2.1’ or ‘3.2.1.go’. Brilliant. The fact that the plan involved taking out a bunch of guys whilst blindfolded and then diving out of a van unto an oncoming car just sweetened the deal.