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 Season 3 ep 3

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PostSubject: Season 3 ep 3   Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:37 pm


The Week
STRIKE BACK: Check Out An Exclusive Clip From This Week’s Episode!

Posted on23 August 2012.

There are a lot of series out there to choose from these days but if you are looking for the perfect blend of action and intrigue, look no further than Cinemax’s STRIKE BACK. Simply put, the series is one of the most exciting television series to come along in years. The second explosive season of the series kicked off last week and it certainly doesn’t disappoint! It is wall to wall action at it’s finest!

To let you in on all of the action, Icon Vs. Icon is offering up an exclusive clip from this week’s episode for our dedicated readers to feast their eyes on! The this week’s episode airs on FRIDAY, AUG. 24 (10:00-11:30 p.m. ET/PT)exclusively on CINEMAX. Check out the exclusive clip below, along with the episode synopsis! Don’t forget to mark your calendar.

Get Ready!

After a personal tragedy, Stonebridge applies for a transfer back to Section 20. While the team remains concerned about his mental state, Scott encourages them to allow Stonebridge back into the unit.

Tracking the missing nuclear triggers to Niger, the team believes that a radical religious leader may have malicious plans to use or sell them. They raid a compound in Niamey and discover another party with interest in the region and ties to Scott’s past. Believing that courier Othmani (Said Taghmaoui) has the triggers, they track him as he tries to leave Niger through the northern desert, where he is captured by a nomadic group led by Markunda (Laetitia Eido). Stonebridge and Scott are airdropped into the desert to negotiate.

Focusing on timely world security issues, the Emmy-nominated series continues to follow the stealth counterterrorism unit Section 20 and two of its core members. Reprising their lead roles from season one, Philip Winchester (“Fringe”) plays Sgt. Michael Stonebridge, a consummate British operative, and Sullivan Stapleton (“Animal Kingdom”) portrays Sgt. Damien Scott, an unconventional former Delta Force soldier.
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PostSubject: Re: Season 3 ep 3   Sun Aug 26, 2012 8:23 pm


Strike Back
Cinemax Rhona Mitra (left), Rhashan Stone
“Season 2, Episode 3” S2 / E3
by Myles McNutt August 24, 2012

I said last week that covering Strike Back week-to-week is going to be slightly different than with other shows, and “Episode Three” bears this out. Given the series’ two-part structure, in which every episode is either starting or finishing an isolated arc, there’s a certain set of expectations for each half of the equation.

“Episode Three” demonstrates these expectations, transitioning from the events of last week’s première into the explosive cliffhanger that leads into next week’s conclusion. On some level, this is the basic strategy of the first half of a Strike Back two-parter: remind the viewer what’s happening, and then build to something blowing up at episode’s end. However, the “in between” of tonight’s episode—which, part one or not, is still an episode of television—also involves a lot of action, a brief investigation into a nomadic culture, the intersection of five competing factions, and the obligatory sex scene(s). The combined impact of these scenes might not dramatically alter the episode’s basic function as a preview for next week’s “part two,” but their collective impact helps turn the explosion at episode’s end into a legitimate cliffhanger as opposed to an obligatory one.

What works particularly well is the emphasis on Section 20 being part of a larger global-intelligence racket. Sure, it’s convenient that the Americans would be bombing the same building where Scott and Stonebridge are trying to collect nuclear triggers (being sold by the religious leader we left off with at the end of last week’s première, providing the requisite continuity), and Scott having sex with his former CIA acquaintance Christy Bryant was as predictable as any other time an attractive woman walks into frame while Scott’s around, but it calls attention to the idea that Section 20 isn’t operating within a bubble. The presence of Conrad Knox’s team, who we met trying to collect the triggers in the première, is another part of this project, and it made this week’s episode feel much more unpredictable even if the triggers remain a fairly simple tool designed to keep Section 20 running around; that so many other groups are involved—which also includes both El Soldat and the Tuareg camp—helps keep it from seeming like a fetch quest. The more forces operating against an object, the less control you can obtain over that object, and that’s the kind of “chaos rules” scenario that Strike Back is well-suited to explore.

Strike Back is less suited for exploring the intricacies of the Tuareg people, although the writers use dialogue to give us the cliff-notes version that positions the Tuareg as a nomadic, matrilineal society (in which women hold positions of power and men wear veils), which research suggests is fairly representative. Whether the depiction of the tribal leader and her sexual tension with Scott is as carefully researched is a different question, but it’s also a question for a different show: Strike Back enjoys exploring the episodic ingénue, and it helps when said ingénue also happens to enjoy pulling knives on prisoners and shooting automatic weapons. The limited interest in characterization means that no one is going to applaud Strike Back for its deep female characters this time around, but Markunda benefits from some effective—if, due to the show’s pace, cursory—cultural context and a central place in the action of the episode.

More time is spent with Knox’s team, whom we’re coming to know independent of Conrad himself. The poolside scene between Knox hit man Karl Matlock and his companion Jessica Kohl is an interesting mash-up of the series’ signatures: some total male gaze as she emerges from the pool, some gun porn in the gift Matlock brings with him, and also some philosophical reflection on the nature of killing for hire (with Karl noting that he’s had enough of “blood and sunshine,” two of the show’s other signatures). It’s not a tremendous amount of depth for either character, but I liked the continuity from the première, and there’s value in following the other side of the conflict through characters with their own sense of agency independent of their employer. While Knox himself is currently being characterized by scenes best described as “Charles Dance chews some beautiful scenery,” his organization is gaining some depth through his employees, laying the groundwork for the ongoing—and for some time, I would imagine, indirect—battle between these two sides.

All of this serves to give the show’s general narrative strategies—the bombs, the boobs, the blood—purpose, which is also helped by the emphasis on Stonebridge’s return to Section 20 after his wife’s death. He returns because it’s the only thing he has left, and because he sees it as an outlet for the revenge he seeks (both in terms of providing a distraction and providing resources he can use to go after Craig Hanson himself). While it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Stonebridge is still struggling with the situation, the episode does an eloquent job emphasizing this through the psych evaluation that opens the episode and the series of mishaps and flashbacks he suffers over the course of the action. At every step in the episode, something happens to Stonebridge that sends him back to that moment, something that tests his readiness to be in the field and proves him to be wanting. While these range in effectiveness—thinking specifically of the random wrestling match at the Tuareg camp that turns homicidal—they give the procedural action purpose, tying into both last week’s première and our understanding of Stonebridge’s mental state heading into next week’s conclusion.

As a result of all of these factors, I had a smile on my face when the show cut to black right after a rocket exploded near the truck carrying our heroes. The abruptness of the cut was artfully done, and demonstrated that it’s nearly impossible to see this as a standalone unit considering it felt like it was cutting out mid-frame. There is still a lot to resolve here, and “Episode Four” of season two might make some of the obligatory parts of “Episode Three” more meaningful, or it might further point out the missed opportunities. As a provocation looking to lay the groundwork for next week’s conclusion, though, “Episode Three” does some strong work introducing new threads, tying into recent ones, and building to a final moment exciting enough to build excitement for next week—taken in light of the specific task in front of it, I’d call that a success.

Stray observations:

Let’s Overanalyze The Sex Scenes!: Like his sex with the photographer last season, Scott’s liaison with Bryant is devoid of the soft-core nudity we’ve come to expect from the show, which is what happens when he has sex with a character who actually registers as a character. To make up for it, of course, we get the sex in the manager’s room at the hotel and Jessica exiting the pool all sultry-like. And the writers even threw in Stonebridge’s shirtless wrestling match for good measure.
I understand it as a function of the tension between Dalton and Sinclair—as the new and old commanding officers—but I still thought the drama around the courier being El Soldat’s brother is somewhat strange: Why is she trying to keep it a secret? And why is he so insistent it be broadcast to everyone? I’ll be interested to see if that pays off next week.
While Shane Taylor’s Craig Hanson exists only in flashback this week, I think that plays to the show’s strength—distraction is a powerful tool, as evidenced with Stonebridge’s story here, and being able to play that thread out over time is likely in the show’s best interest (although there’s a point at which waiting too long will prove damaging).
For those with access to Cinemax’s MaxGo—the network’s equivalent to HBOGo—I’m told you can watch next week’s conclusion early. If you do watch it, please try to avoid spoilers in the comments—we’ll be back to discuss it next week.

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PostSubject: Re: Season 3 ep 3   Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:37 pm


Strike Back Recap: Episode 13
Strike Back Season 2 Banner

Before I get to the recap, I have a clarification that needs to be made. There was some confusion on the title of last week’s recap in that I titled it Season 2 Premiere. Technically this is not accurate because technically this is the third season when you take into account the British show Chris Ryan’s Strike Back, which according to one of my commenters, helps explains part of the story that took place last season. Chris Ryan’s Strike Back was not a show that was aired in the US (to my knowledge) and it wasn’t ever aired on Cinemax. This current season is the show’s second on Cinemax and most of us Yanks, consider it the show’s second season. However…one funky thing about this show is there are no episode titles. They are simply numbered. Episode 1 was last season’s premiere, Episode 10 was the finale and the double-header last week were Episodes 11 and 12. To eliminate any further confusion, I will be titling these recaps to reflect how Cinemax titles each episode. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get on with it…

Episode 13 picks up in the aftermath of Kerry’s murder. Stonebridge has requested a transfer back to Section 20, but he has to go through a psych evaluation first. He says all the right things, but you can see the rage simmering just underneath the surface. Meanwhile, Cpt. Dalton (Rachel) is debriefing the group and tells them about Stonebridge’s transfer request. The only one to air any objections is Sinclair, stating the obvious…that’s he’s a loose cannon. Rachel however tells him that they need the best and if he’s cleared, that’s good enough for her. Rachel ultimately leaves it up to Scott since he’s the one who will be going into the field with Stonebridge. Stonebridge’s instability emerges however, when he smashes his own head into a mirror.

At the crib, they’ve managed to track the nuclear triggers from last week to a compound in Niger. As they prep for departure, Scott tells Stonebridge that even though he can’t imagine what Stonebridge is going through, he’s there for him. Stonebridge assures Scott that he’s ok, but the look on his face when he walks away says otherwise. The team makes their way to Niger to infiltrate the compound and during the mission, Julia sends word that they have two American fighter jets coming in weapons hot. The find the original man who had the triggers, but he’s already handed them off to a courier, who is nowhere to be found. The jets deliver their payload and the compound is reduced to a pile of rubble. Luckily the team is still in one piece, but the man they captured is dead. Julia sends word that she’s got a location on the courier and sends directions, which splits the team up. Scott ends up on his own in the middle of a group of angry villagers as well as Niger soldiers. He’s taken captive once again. Poor guy just can’t catch a break. Dalton orders the team to stand down and Stonebridge has to watch as Scott is taken away.

At the crib, Dalton tries to figure out how the Americans knew about the compound and what they were after, but Sinclair informs her that their actions had nothing to do with Section 20′s mission. The bombing was instead a direct response to a CIA flight that was shot down just hours earlier. Stonebridge comes in angry about Scott being left behind and Dalton orders that the compound be examined for any evidence. Sinclair asks about Scott and Dalton replies that she knows exactly where he’ll be.

Scott finds himself bound to a chair in a room, when Christy Bryant walks in. He doesn’t seem real happy to see her but has sex with her anyway. There’s some history here obviously and I’m wondering if we’ll ever get to find out the whole story. She’s pissed that he bailed years earlier and hadn’t heard a word until Mogadishu. She asks why he was there and he tells her that he’s with Section 20 but she already knew that. They trade quips, have sex, but then in what I think is a first, he seems a bit angry with himself for it. Christy calls Section 20 telling them that she has something of theirs. Meanwhile at the crib, Julia catches Stonebridge looking into Hanson trying to find his location. He tells her that Hanson was one of them and knows how to disappear. Looks like Michael has ulterior motives for coming back to Section 20.

Dalton shows up to collect Scott and he gives her grief for leaving him behind. She tells him that she knew he’d be in good hands, but that Bryant wants her to question his loyalty. He tells her that he’s all hers, whenever she’s ready. She replies by telling him after he washes off the cheap perfume. Ouch…burn!

At the crib, Liam is able to track the courier to a hotel in Niamey. Stonebridge, Scott and Julia head to the hotel where they find the man they’re looking for in a most compromising position. After some convincing, he tells them that Othmani is heading to the Algerian Desert to hand off the triggers to Al-Queda leader El Sodat. Othmani is upstairs in his room and is alerted to their presence by a woman in the bar. After handcuffing the guy they just interrogated to the gal he was banging, they split up to find Othmani, who is busy setting up booby traps and getting ready to bolt. Stonebridge sets off one of Othmani’s booby traps but luckily isn’t hurt. He and Julia split up, while Scott follows Othmani to roof, while dodging grenades.

Scott and Stonebridge reconnect on the roof and have to dodge yet another grenade (how many does this guy have anyway??), but on the way down the stairs Scott manages to get eyes on the guy and is able to shoot him. Othmani makes it out of the building, but Julia pulls a Parkour move but isn’t able to catch him. Back a the crib, Dalton’s pissed and is questioning about pulling the tripwire, but Julia covers for Stonebridge saying she’s the one who tripped it. Liam says he’s got eyes on the borders, but Dalton wants eyes on the smuggling routes.

Over in the western cape of South Africa, Conrad Knox is visited by Matlock who has info on the triggers and tells Knox that he knows a go-between and is setting up a meeting. Knox just tells him that he pays for results. Liam picks up a call from Othmani and tells Dalton that Othmani has been captured by the Tuareg. Dalton orders Scott and Stonebridge to be dropped in.

Scott and Stonebridge discuss the finer points of Dalton’s motives as well as Stonebridge’s mental state. The make their way to the Tuareg camp and start to deal with Markunda, the leader of the group. Stonebridge is challenged to a wrestling match and while he tries to match brute strength, Scott has a battle of wits with Markunda. Stonebridge wins, but Scott has to put an end to the match before Stonebridge kills Markunda’s man. Scott finds out though, that Othmani is not in the camp, but will be auctioned the following day.

The next morning Othmani is brought to the camp and Scott and Stonebridge have to disarm before they enter. El Soldat’s men must do the same. When the auction begins, Stonebridge goes first, telling Markunda that the British Government won’t negotiate, but will pay her for her troubles. El Soldat’s man holds up one coin, which turns out to be a bomb. Stonebridge chases down the trigger man, but the bomb goes off. Othmani gets away, but not for long. Scott escorts him back to the tent where Markunda hold a knife to his throat. She stands down however, but after going through Othmani’s bag, Scott discovers that he no longer has the triggers.

Meanwhile in the Algerian desert, Matlock and Kohl meet with the middleman who tells them that El Soldat says no money, no triggers. Things go south for the middleman and Matlock forces him to rat out El Soldat. At the crib, Dalton realizes that Othmani knew he was being tracked and used himself as a decoy. She contacts Scott and Stonebridge and tells them that they are looking for a bus and to find a set of wheels. She also asks for a picture of Othmani, and once she sees it, recognizes him as El Soldat’s brother.

Scott manages to secure a truck from Markunda but she and two of her guards go with them to track down the bus. They find the bus but as they begin to search it, El Soldat’s men show up and a gun fight ensues. Stonebridge loses his focus for a moment and Othmani is briefly able to get the upper hand. Although Stonebridge gets it back and beats the crap out of him. Scott boards the bus to find both men bloodied and grabs the two men along with a medical student from the bus. The team is able to dispatch El Soldat’s men, but more are incoming….along with El Soldat himself. They load up in the truck and take off, but just as they’re making their getaway, one of El Soldat’s men raises a rocket launcher, takes aim and fires. The episode ends with the truck exploding.

Nice cliffhanger Strike Back! I see that hasn’t changed from last season to now since they pulled that often. It kills me! Stonebridge has some serious rage issues to deal with and certain situations trigger memories of Kerry being shot. Scott can only cover for him so many times and this is going to be a real problem for them both. This was a solid entry in the new season and things are only heating up. Imagine when it hits a boiling point. With that ending, now I really can’t wait until next week!

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PostSubject: Re: Season 3 ep 3   Wed Aug 29, 2012 12:13 am


TRIKE BACK 2.03 Review
STRIKE BACK 2.03 Review
STRIKE BACK 2.03 Review

As they search for the missing nuclear triggers, Stonebridge and Scott contend with a CIA air strike and a band of militant nomads.
By Blair Marnell
August 26, 2012
Writer: James Dormer

Director: Paul Wilmshurst

Previously on "Strike Back"

Episodes 2.01 & 2.02 Review

During the closing moments of last week’s season premiere of “Strike Back,” Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) was helpless to prevent the murder of his wife, Kerry (Alexandra Moen) after an angry Craig Hanson (Shane Taylor) struck at Stonebridge to avenge his younger brother’s death.

Freeing Stonebridge of his obligation to Kerry by killing her off was a little cheap and easy, but at least the writers of this show have made it clear that Stonebridge is not in any way over death or remotely ready for duty in Section 20. But Stonebridge manages to lie his way through a psych evaluation and his old buddy, Sgt. Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) vouches for him.

It’s interesting to see Major Rachel Dalton (Rhona Mitra) assert her control over Section 20, especially as Major Oliver SInclair (Rhashan Stone) seems to question her every move. Sinclair points out that Stonebridge would owe Rachel if she allowed him back into his old unit. But as far as Rachel is concerned, she already owns everyone under her command. Scott and Stonebridge are no different.

After the radical cleric got away with the nuclear triggers in the premiere, it was a little surprising that the same cleric is rapidly killed off within the first ten minutes of this episode after passing the triggers on to a courier named Othmani (Saïd Taghmaoui). It seems a little wasteful to dispose of a villain just as he was starting to gain a little traction, but it reinforces the idea that “Strike Back” is composed of two episode blocks that function almost as stand alone movies. So for now, Othmani and his terrorist leader brother, El Soldat (Farid Elouardi) are the primary adversaries of this adventure; while Conrad Knox (Charles Dance) remains in the background for now.

The season premiere of “Strike Back” seemed to hint that Scott may have worked for the CIA during the years after he was wrongly dismissed from Delta Force. And after being taken into custody of American special forces, Scott is only slightly surprised to see CIA operative Christy Bryant (Stephanie Vogt), shortly before she initiates a sexual encounter with Scott at around the 13 minute mark. (I think that the only time that Scott has gotten his prerequisite sex scene within the first five minutes was in episode four of the previous season).

But Christy’s tryst with Scott is a little different in that she seems to have the power in that relationship. Scott initially turns her down, but she keeps going until she gets what she wants out of him. She even lightly threatens to tell his British colleagues about his past association with the CIA. More tellingly, Scott seems upset after having sex with her because Christy once again has the upper hand with him.

There’s also a sharp reminder that the British special forces and their American counterparts aren’t exactly cooperating, as Scott and Stonebridge are both trapped in a building hit by an American airstrike before Scott is dragged away into American custody. This lack of communication may also indicate that the Americans’ agenda may not line up with Section 20’s; which could cause Scott’s loyalties to be called into question down the line.

After his release, Scott and Stonebridge get their new mission to retrieve Othmani from the nomadic Tuareg tribe, whose female leader, Makunda (Laëtitia Eïdo) invites Stonebridge to wrestle one of her men in a ring of fire “for sport;” while sharing some time with Scott. Hilariously, Scott shamelessly flirts with Makunda and she takes it up to a certain point... before reminding him that her tent is guarded at night. And even Makunda can see that Stonebridge doesn’t belong in the field when she notes that he seems intent upon killing his wrestling opponent even when their fight is simply meant as recreation.

The Tuareg tribe are fairly pragmatic and willing to sell Othmani to the British... if they can beat the price offered by El Soldat’s terrorist forces. But El Soldat’s representative offers only death and betrayal, leading Makunda and her people to side with Section 20... for a price. Makunda’s flirting with Scott is par for the course with “Strike Back.” But the show really starts to push credibility when Makunda actually accompanies Scott and Stonebridge on the next leg of their journey to recover the triggers.

Meanwhile, we get a brief glimpse into the activities of Karl Matlock (Vincent Regan) and Jessica Kohl (Natalie Becker), operatives who are working for Conrad Knox and serve almost as opposite numbers for Scott and Stonebridge. In seemingly another callback to the third episode of last season, Jessica does her own version of swimming in a pool before emerging topless. Jessica also appears to have a more cynical outlook than Matlock, who indicates that he’s looking for a way out of his line of work. Matlock’s line about being tired of “blood and sunshine” was amusing because blood and sunshine are what “Strike Back” does best.

Early in the episode, Sgt. Julia Richmond (Michelle Lukes) once again joins Scott and Stonebridge in the field, as a welcome addition to that duo... before she is once again sidelined about halfway through the episode. However, Julia does cover for Stonebridge when his still tormented state of mind leads him to miss an obvious tripwire. But she’s not there when Stonebridge has a severe moment of PTSD and nearly allows Othmani to escape before almost beating the man to death.

In a way, it’s good that Stonebridge is so broken, because no one should be able to shake off the loss of his wife so quickly. But I suspect that there will be some contrived way to bring Craig Hansen into the Knox storyline before the end of the season, just so Stonebridge will have to choose between vengeance and his duty to Scott and Section 20.

As far as a cliffhanger ending, I’m not impressed with a rocket seemingly hitting the truck that Scott and Stonebridge are on simply because there’s no doubt that both men will survive. That moment seemed more like a clumsy edit than something that will keep the audience on edge for another week between episodes. Understandably, there had to be some kind of hook to bring people back. This ending just wasn’t very effective.

Still, the third episode of Cinemax season two is more than entertaining enough. “Strike Back” knows exactly what kind of show that it is and it almost always delivers what we want to see. This episode was no exception.
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