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 S3/4 EP 3

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Posts : 1182
Join date : 2011-03-24

PostSubject: S3/4 EP 3   Sat Aug 24, 2013 7:43 pm


‘Strike Back’ Season 3, Episode 3 Review – The Money Man
by Kevin Yeoman

After the first two episodes of Strike Back worked to set up and then rapidly expand upon the basic details of the plot, episode 3 works to slow things down a bit, mellow out (as much as any episode of this series is capable of mellowing out) and help the audience understand the particular points of view of various characters.

It’s as if the show’s writers have committed to applying Rob Gordon’s philosophy on making a great compilation tape to the violent world of international espionage and elite anti-terrorist military groups as a way to prevent the story from getting away from its self. As Gordon would say, “You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch…then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.” (By the way, how great would John Cusack be on this show? He could be some kind of vaguely burned-out CIA agent; sort of like the guy running Kamali, but less cartoonish.)

Obviously, season 3 kicked things off by eliminating Baxter (that’s their “killer,” I guess), something that has clearly led to Maj. Dalton’s abuse of prescription drugs and her very open distaste for Leo Kamali – who, despite having killed Baxter in the season premiere, has grown on me; I find his desperation, anxiety and dodginess to be a nice counterbalance to Scott and Stonebridge’s unparalleled badassery.

Normally, the presence of a character like Kamali working alongside Section 20 would raise all kinds of alarms of pending treachery and deceit, but Zubin Varla’s performance thus far has been an interesting addition to the regular cast that has me hoping otherwise. Furthermore, Kamali demonstrates an interesting dichotomy with Dalton’s present state of mind that suggests there is a limit to every character’s reserve of dedication to their duty and the organization for which they work. Both have come to a crossroads on which they’re ready to go all in on a new path.

For Kamali, it’s leaving the CIA behind for the daughter no one knows about, while Dalton seems prepared to abandon the rules and regulations and chain of command in order to come to some kind of peace with her role in Baxter’s murder.

Another interesting aspect that can arise from cooling it off a notch is there’s plenty of time to introduce new characters and illustrate their importance to the story or, in the case of Dougray Scott’s psychotic Leatherby, their proclivities and penchant for violence that also ties in to an obsessive affection for his lover, Farhan. So far, Leatherby has proven himself a suitable stand-in for the now deceased El Jaguar, in terms of a predilection for violence. And considering the episode here has established Leatherby’s character slightly more than the cursory background check and display of RPG skills that was granted El Jaguar, it looks as though the man who was nearly Wolverine will be sticking around for more than two episodes. Well, we can hope, anyway.

As much time as the episode spent on establishing Leatherby, adding some depth to Kamali’s character and further informing on Dalton’s shaky psyche, there was still plenty of time for, in the words of Keith “Jonesy” Jones, “A good, old-fashioned good time,” meaning, things were blown up, bad guys were removed from the equation and Stonebridge seemed overly concerned about a cut on his arm and less disturbed about having just fallen through the ceiling of a small shack filled with explosives. (If this is telegraphing something, then I have reached the limits of my knowledge about certain weapons and the kinds of negative effects that can result from exposure to them.)

So, in essence, cooling it off a notch in Strike Back means SUVs will explode in spectacular fashion; Scott and Stonebridge will make driving through a minefield at excessive speeds more entertaining than it should be; and Dalton will ignore the chain of command now that she’s no longer a part of it. The first two are certainly part and parcel for this show and it would be remiss to not include them, but Dalton’s removal by Locke, and subsequent kidnapping of a woman with potential ties to al-Zuhari, could wind up being an interesting development for the character.

So far, Dalton’s been given a little more to do than stand behind massive computer screens and deliver orders to Scott and Stonebrigde, and that’s helped make her character more interesting and left me wanting to see how she handles things outside the Section 20 war room.

As much as this show actually has to develop its characters, this is an excellent chance for Strike Back to do so with an individual who could help lead the series down an unexpected path. Here’s hoping the series finds a way to follow through.


Strike Back will continue in two weeks with episode 4 @10pm on Cinemax. Check out a preview below:
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PostSubject: Re: S3/4 EP 3   Sat Aug 24, 2013 7:46 pm


All good soldiers are bound for hell.

→ August 24, 2013 Warning: Full spoilers for the episode follow...

It almost seemed like this episode was going to end without a cliffhanger, which would have been down right strange for the first half of a Strike Back two-parter. But then, in the final 30 seconds, Locke figured out the true depth of Dalton's trauma right as she nabbed an innocent woman and threw her into her trunk. Now Dalton's totally gone off the reservation and I'm not sure if it's something she can ever come back from. After Locke placed her on "extended leave," I figured she'd bow out quietly and then return somewhere down the line. You know, get brought back into the fold once her nerves had settled and her hatred subsided. But now she's gone fully rogue and is endangering the entire mission. So this might be it for her.

Aside from briefly introducing a shadowy Russian player (The Peacemaker's Marcel Iures) and a hot spy girl who's bedding and watching Scott, Episode 3 was about two things: Introducing Dougray Scott's bombastic James Leatherby, and ramping up the tension between Dalton and Kamali. Now, it makes total sense that Dalton wouldn't trust Kamali after what she's seen him do, but her mental state has now pushed her over into taking huge risks that endanger her own team. Kamali, she doesn't care about naturally, but she should still be wary of his overall importance.

Dougray Scott as James Leatherby.

Again though, from the opening scene where Scott and Stonebridge are ordered to do a field interrogation on a target named Amir while being shot at by Hezbollah minions, it's clear that Dalton's not just compromising Kamali's safety. "For the record, it's you, not me, that's going to get your people killed," Kamali spits at her. It gets so bad that, after Kamali is almost killed by psycho Leatherby, he quits and Scott and Stonebridge have to go convince him to return. With Scott even siding with Kamali against Dalton.

Leatherby, as villains go, is both fun and exhausting. He's got one secret (his al-Zuhari plot), but everything else is pretty much out there in the open. He's got a lot of speeches about British Imperialism and killing a man in the freezing cold with a knife. He's openly, and violently, gay despite the fact that his temperamental behavior gives him a ton of vulnerabilities. A lot of the performance is sort of done tongue in cheek, but there are elements to it that add a little spice to the series. Because he's not a typical Strike Back baddie. He's both the "cool guy who walks away from the explosion without looking back or flinching" and the guy who playfully says "Ka-boom" when he presses the bomb trigger.

The action bookended the episode this week, with the Beirut shootout at the top and the airfield/minefield set piece at the end. We also learned that Kamali has a wise-ass teen daughter named Ester. With her being his main soft spot, I'm pretty sure her protection will become a big deal fairly soon. But more than that, the very fact that she exists and Kamali keeps her a secret from the CIA helps round him out more as a character. In fact, Kamali managed to stump Stonebridge this week when he asked him if losing his wife, in the name of global conflict, was worth it. Yeah, he didn't have an answer.

A good episode this week, complete with a very unexpected turn for Dalton. I liked it, but I also couldn't help but feel that it was a big leap, character-wise, from the last episode to this one. Almost as if we skipped a few beats. Leatherby's a bit of an extreme wild card, and seeing how nuts he is makes me wonder how long he'll last this year. He seemed to be positioned as a bad guy who'd go the distance, all the way to the finale, but I don't know if this season can handle that much panache.

Matt Fowler is a writer for IGN.
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PostSubject: Re: S3/4 EP 3   Sat Aug 24, 2013 7:47 pm


STRIKE BACK 3.03 Review
Dalton pushes Kamali to his breaking point as Scott and Stonebridge encounter their new nemesis, James Leatherby.
August 24th, 2013 Blair Marnell

Strike Back 303

Writer: James Dormer

Director: Julian Holmes

Previously on "Strike Back":

Episode 3.02 Review

Coming into this season, I knew that Rhona Mitra had landed a role on TNT’s “The Last Ship.” So I keep expecting her character, Rachel Dalton to be written out of ‘Strike Back.” The groundwork for Dalton’s exit was laid out in the two previous episodes. But just when you might think that Dalton was heading out the door, she refuses to go quietly.

It’s hard to see how Dalton can redeem herself if she’s wrong. That’s why I think that she will be vindicated… eventually.

There are full spoilers ahead for the third episode of “Strike Back” Cinemax Season 3, so if you aren’t up to date with the show then you might want to skip this review or else Leatherby will provide another culinary lesson.

I was certain that Sgt. Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) would be feeling the emotional pain of Rebecca’s (Lyne Renée) death in last week’s episode. But instead, Scott seems relatively well adjusted and he’s already got a new bed buddy named Katya (Rain Elwood). Meanwhile, the lingering trauma belongs to Dalton, who keeps replaying the death of Sergeant Liam Baxter (Liam Garrigan) in her mind while self-medicating and putting her team and her assets in danger.

The early minutes of the episode demonstrate Dalton’s increasing recklessness as Leo Kamali (Zubin Varla) is outed as a traitor to his contact, Amir (Joseph Long). And when Amir is fatally wounded while Hezbollah forces surround them, Dalton forces Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) and Scott to interrogate the man on his deathbed.

Stonebridge’s blackmail was clever and effective. He threatened to plant documents on Amir’s body that would make him look like a traitor and endanger his family. Thus the dying man whispers that Al-Zuhari is coming.

From the opening teaser, the episode belonged to Section 20’s newest nemesis, James Leatherby (Dougray Scott); a rogue operative with ties to Al-Zuhari. Leatherby is the rare openly gay Bond-villain type. But Leatherby’s defining traits are his psychotic and paranoid tendencies as well as his ruthlessness. Leatherby seems to be legitimately dangerous to everyone around him; which only made it funnier when Leatherby hit on Stonebridge during their initial meeting.

In the background, there’s a subplot building with Arkady Ulyanov (Marcel Iures), a Russian drug lord with a grudge against Section 20. It turns out that Scott and Stonebridge created a major problem for themselves when they killed Victor Ulyanov (Greg Kolpakchi) back in the first episode of the season. Arkady already knows who they are and Katya appears to be working for him.

Meanwhile, Kamali also had a major role in this episode as he became a lot more sympathetic. Kamali is the first to warn Dalton that she’s going to get him and her team killed. And his prophecy nearly comes true when Leatherby threatens him with a gun for asking too many questions before injuring his lover and shooting a young waiter over a possibly imagined slight. Kamali is so shaken by the ordeal that he immediately quits the operation.

When Scott and Stonebridge catch up to Kamali, we learn that he has a secret daughter named Ester (Amy Leigh Hickman). The scenes at Kamali’s house did a lot to flesh out his character and even added more dimension to the lead characters; as Scott bonded with Kamali and his daughter while Stonebridge acknowledged the loss of his wife. Scott was moved enough by Kamali’s plight that he actually stood up for him against Dalton!

In a nice piece of writing, Dalton throws Scott’s support for Kamali back in his face by telling him that Kamali survives by selling whatever version of himself he needs to win someone over. And Dalton is not necessarily wrong. It sounds all too plausible.

Dalton also shows good instincts when she orders Leatherby’s boyfriend to be detained and she manages to turn him against Leatherby. Through the young man, they discover that Leatherby is bringing Al-Zuhari in at a remote air strip.

The action on this show is always top notch and there was no exception here. The opening shootout in Beirut and the closing chase sequence with Scott and Stonebridge in pursuit of “Al-Zuhari” were standout sequences. There was also a nice touch about the way that Stonebridge inadvertently gave away his presence at the air strip.

Despite Section 20’s expectations, the person from the plane is not Al-Zuhari. Instead, Stonebridge finds that a woman named Sophia (Agni Scott) was there instead. Dalton is so convinced that Sophia has deeper ties to Al-Zuhari that she goes too far with her interrogation and Lt. Colonel Philip Locke (Robson Green) relieves her of command before taking over as the new leader of Section 20.

Dalton takes the dismissal as a chance to reassess her life and get the counseling that she needs. Or she could have done that, had she not kidnapped Sophia and stuffed her into the trunk of a car before taking off for parts unknown. I doubt that Dalton’s superiors will be pleased by her actions. Earlier this season, the late Sebastian Gray (Martin Clunes) suggested that going rogue might be in Dalton’s future. I doubt that anyone expected that future to come true so quickly.

The thing is, I don’t believe that Dalton is wrong. If Al-Zuhari arranged for Sophia to be picked up by Leatherby, then Sophia has to have a major role in his organization. Here’s a theory: what if Sophia is really Al-Zuhari? We’ve already been told that no one meets Al-Zuhari, so that might be the perfect way for a woman to lead a radical Islamic terrorist organization. Most of her followers would think that they’re being led by the near mythical Al-Zuhari. It could be a brilliant way of hiding in plain sight.

Episode 3 also put forth the question of what turned Leatherby into the man that he is today. Stonebridge seemed particularly curious as to how Leatherby came to be and he doesn’t seem convinced that Leatherby’s origins are solely due to the fact that he was captured and tortured by Iraqi forces during the first Gulf War.

For his part, Leatherby not only recognizes Stonebridge from the bar, he also seems to instantly suspect that Kamali leaked the intelligence about Sophia’s arrival. Leatherby is only half right, but we’ve already seen him kill for minor offenses. Both Kamali and Leatherby’s lover could be murdered at any time by this madman. But I’ll say this for Leatherby, he’s got style and he is entertaining.

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