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 S3/4 EP 4

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Posts : 1182
Join date : 2011-03-24

PostSubject: S3/4 EP 4   Sat Sep 07, 2013 1:40 pm


Strike Back’ Says Goodbye to New & Old Characters Alike – Where Does It Go from Here?
by Kevin Yeoman

Dougray Scott in Strike Back S3E4 Strike Back Says Goodbye to New & Old Characters Alike Where Does It Go from Here?

In terms of stakes, Strike Back excels in maintaining the sensation that they’re always fairly high; major and minor characters alike come and go with frightening regularity. Normally, that wouldn’t be saying much, considering this series typically racks up a significant body count in every episode, and it moves through Big Bads like most shows cycle through extras. But what’s surprising is the manner in which the show maintains a high level of action, and still manages to craft an interesting story around its characters that generally gives them a new and unexpected dimension. Even if that added layer of character is offered as a parting gift.

After the brief hiatus for the Labor Day weekend, episode 4 returns with great energy. The opening sequence alone, in which Dougray Scott’s scenery chewing Leatherby storms Kamali’s house and takes Ester (Amy-Leigh Hickman) hostage, could have sustained a much larger portion of the episode’s plot. Instead, it simply generated the momentum for the remainder of the two-part arc, which, consequently, wound up being a rather effective swan song for several characters. It successfully demonstrated just how adept Strike Back is at coloring in these individuals’ backgrounds to make them more interesting and have what feels like a greater impact on the overall storyline.

Of course, that’s in reference to Leatherby and his lover Farhan (Daniel Ben Zenou) and the incredibly dark and tumultuous love-hate relationship that existed between the two and somehow became a great source of the underlying tension anytime Leatherby was onscreen. And that’s not simply because the mad Scot put a bullet through Farhan’s hand for thinking he’d made eyes at a hotel employee; it had to do with an unspoken understanding that Leatherby had his suspicions regarding Farhan’s forced collusion with Section 20, and despite this, he still chose to save the young man’s life – if only so that he could wind up taking it (while sacrificing himself) when the perfect moment arose.

Amy Leigh Hickman and Sullivan Stapleton in Strike Back S3E3 Strike Back Says Goodbye to New & Old Characters Alike Where Does It Go from Here?

The tension that sprang from putting a character with dubious intentions in the same environment as one who has clearly gone off the rails was mirrored by the late-in-the-episode pairing of the increasingly interesting Kamali and the exceptionally volatile Maj. Rachel Dalton.

What happened with Dalton was something of a Strike Back staple – i.e., depicting the mental and emotional anguish a character experiences when they feel responsible for another life being unjustly taken. It wasn’t all too dissimilar from what Stonebridge had gone through during much of season 2. But here, Dalton’s obsession with avenging Baxter’s death and capturing al-Zuhari had consumed her beyond any hope of return and translated into the quick and vicious death of a character who had risen and become almost as essential to the series as Scott (are there enough Scotts in this episode?) and Stonebridge. Her death may not have been mourned by the surprisingly contemplative Damien Scott, but that just shows how well the series knows its characters.

Besides, in true Strike Back fashion, the second story arc ends with the introduction of new villains and a massive expansion of the overall al-Zuhari plotline. And now, more than ever, Section 20 has some real incentive to, well, strike back.
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PostSubject: Re: S3/4 EP 4   Sat Sep 07, 2013 1:41 pm


What's the frequency, Rachel?

→ September 6, 2013 Warning: Full spoilers for the episode follow...

We were all thrown a huge curveball at the end of this one; a swerve that really felt like it came out of nowhere. The twist at the end of the second Shadow Warfare episode, when Kamali revealed himself to be a CIA agent, felt right. This IRA chick, McKenna, really dropped down on us from out of the sky. So it was a huge jolt. And couple with that the fact that she actually killed Dalton, the whole ending really took the wind out of me. I just haven't figured out if it's in a good way or a bad way. "TBD," I suppose.

The best parts of this episode definitely had to do with Dalton though. And Kamali. And the two of them, after all their animosity, working together to trick al-Zuhari's wife. Yes, Dalton was right. And what a great way to vindicate her character before removing her from the game board. I'll admit that her death didn't really get to me since she'd become so unhinged as of late. In fact, she was always a bit prickly anyhow. Rebecca's death back in the second episode felt more sorrowful. Anyhow, it was still great that Dalton, despite the chance of being totally wrong, wound up being totally right when it came to her intense suspicion of Sofia. None of it wound up helping her on the end, or leading the team anywhere concrete, but at least she got to die knowing she was in the clear.


The other part of this episode that I liked was how Kamali started assisting Dalton as if he were a full-fledged member of the team. What a great little arc he's been given; going from the hated target in the first episode to a man who helps Dalton play a few mind games on Sofia. He's been shot now, but I wonder if he'll stick around longer. Or pop up later. After all, Section 20 folk are dropping like flies. They've lost two main players (plus Rebecca) and we haven't even gotten to the halfway point of the season. Still, another interesting part of this installment was still not knowing whether or not we could fully trust him. When he started promising Sofia that he'd set her free, it seemed like he was betraying Dalton.

The stuff with Stonebridge and Scott rescuing Ester was fine. Nowhere near as interesting as the other stuff, but it provided us with the action pieces for the episode. It also made Locke put his boots on and head out into the field. I see my suspicions about Leatherby not lasting much longer proved to be correct. In fact, he got taken out even sooner than I thought. He just wasn't long for the Strike Back world. Too intensely passionate and crazed. He was very unpredictable, to the point where, at the end, he could have killed his boyfriend just as soon as saved him. He could have said "He means nothing to me," and shot him himself. We just never were allowed to get a handle on him. But now he's gone and al-Zuhari's in the wind again. Off with the IRA or something. Which is a strange combo.

Sure, the ending felt irregular, but I look forward to learning more about McKenna. Namely, how she fits into the first four episodes we've seen. She said "This one's for my brother" while shooting up Dalton, so there's obviously some history to explain. Plus, we've still got the Russians to learn about. That one hitman was waiting in Scott's hotel room. He could, you know, still be there. Just sittin'.
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PostSubject: Re: S3/4 EP 4   Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:33 pm


STRIKE BACK 3.04 Review
Leatherby seeks revenge on Kamali as Dalton gets closer to the truth.
September 7th, 2013 Blair Marnell

Strike Back 304

Writer: James Dormer

Director: Julian Holmes

Previously on "Strike Back":

Episode 3.03 Review

The first few episodes of “Strike Back” Season 3 have made it seem as if the stage is being set for both Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) and Sgt. Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) to leave the series. Stapleton appears to be on the verge of blowing up in the 300 sequel and other film projects, so that may be a natural way to transition him out. But both characters are not only disillusioned with Section 20, they’re also making plans to get out of the life. Plus, Stonebridge appears to be dealing with a wound that may threaten his paramilitary career.

And death was literally awaiting Scott and Stonebridge on the other side of a hotel room door, in the form of Skander (Ivan Kamaras); a Russian hitman sent to kill them in order to avenge the death of Victor Ulyanov (Greg Kolpakchi) in the season premiere.

Scott and Stonebridge got a reprieve this week, but not everyone around them was as fortunate. Episode 4 had the kind of death total usually reserved for season finales of this show. And at least one of the departures was legitimately surprising.

There are full spoilers ahead for last night’s episode of “Strike Back,” so you should probably skip this review if you haven’t seen it or else Dalton will use some “enhanced interrogation” techniques.

I saw the end coming for Rachel Dalton as soon as soon as Rhona Mitra signed on to TNT’s “The Last Ship” as a series regular. But at least Mitra returned for the first four episodes of the season to wrap up Dalton’s storyline, even if there are few characters willing to mourn her death.

In a way, Dalton’s storyline was a gift to Mitra as it allowed her to once again demonstrate her action heroine chops that she memorably had on the big screen. But Dalton’s PTSD made her increasingly erratic and self-destructive. Even if Dalton had lived through this episode, a return to Section 20 seemed unlikely.

Convinced that Sophia (Agni Scott) was more than what she seemed, Dalton kidnapped her from Section 20’s custody and set up a safe house so she could effectively torture Sophia into revealing her connection to Al-Zuhari. And while Sophia doesn’t have much info on Al-Zuhari’s terrorist organization, she does reveal herself to be his wife.

Meanwhile, the dangerous James Leatherby (Dougray Scott) attempted to get revenge on Leo Kamali (Zubin Varla) after correctly guessing that Kamali was working with Section 20. Leatherby doesn’t find Kamali, but he does kidnap Kamali’s daughter, Ester (Amy Leigh Hickman). A frantic Kamali appeals to Section 20 for help, but their new leader, Lt. Colonel Philip Locke (Robson Green) asks him to locate Dalton to return their favor.

I keep expecting Kamali to pull a swerve and betray the team, but I’m glad that he hasn’t so far. Kamali has become one of the more interesting characters on the show and it seems like Scott and Stonebridge have actually come to like the man who killed their teammate Liam Baxter (Liam Garrigan). As Kamali said in the previous episode, it wasn’t the first time he had to kill the wrong man for the right reasons; a sentiment shared by Scott and Stonebridge.

Kamali finds Dalton with such ease that it was surprising that Section 20 allowed him to search for her alone. That’s a lot of trust to put in a man whom they were hunting so recently. For a few moments, it seemed like Kamali was betraying Dalton by releasing Sophia, but it was actually a plan he shared with Dalton to trick Sophia into leading them to Al-Zuhari.

Instead of Al-Zuhari, Sophia finds Mairead McKenna (Catherine Walker), a Real IRA member who promptly shoots Sophia and retrieves something from her watch. McKenna also gets the drop on Dalton and shoots her twice before her third bullet goes through Dalton’s head. McKenna hinted that she had a vendetta over her murdered brother, but her introduction was so out of left field that I kept wondering if I had somehow missed her first appearance on the series. I think that scene would have been more significant if we had any idea of who Mairead McKenna was before she murdered Dalton.

McKenna also shoots Kamali, but his wound is suspiciously not fatal. Again, I’m not rooting for Kamali to betray the team. Kamali is far more entertaining as Section 20’s reluctant ally who has already morally compromised himself in the name of his mission.

It’s telling that no one is that broken up about Dalton’s death, as Scott and Stonebridge seem to resent her for nearly getting them killed. Only Locke takes a moment to go over Dalton’s belongings as he discovers that she was a mother before solemnly putting the photo of Dalton’s child with her body.

While Dalton’s demise was expected, I was stunned that Leatherby didn’t make it out of the episode alive. Mid-level adversaries Matlock and Hanson were around for almost the entire second season of “Strike Back” and Leatherby was far more memorable than they were. Hell, Cinemax flew Dougray Scott out to Comic-Con this year while Rhona Mitra stayed home! That alone made me think that Leatherby had a bigger role to play this season.

It was almost embarrassingly easy for Scott, Stonebridge, Sergeant Julia Richmond (Michelle Lukes) and Kim Martinez (Milauna Jackson) to break into Leatherby’s compound, save Esther and come within a few seconds of kidnapping Leatherby himself! That was pretty standard “Strike Back,” in terms of action.

But the episode kicked things up a notch when Leatherby called in Hezbollah to ambush Section 20 and pin them inside a nearby apartment complex. What made Leatherby seem so dangerous wasn’t just his willingness to unleash heavy artillery on Section 20 and Esther, it was the glee with which he did it. Leatherby even tells Stonebridge later in the episode that he never feels more alive than when he’s killing someone.

Leatherby’s undoing comes in the form of his lover, Farhan (Daniel Ben Zenou), who betrayed Leatherby in the hopes of escaping their abusive relationship. Leatherby actually gives up some vital intelligence to Section 20 just to save Farhan’s life only moments before he murders Farhan himself. You see, Farhan made it obvious that he had collaborated with Section 20 and Leatherby responded in the only way that he knew how.

I was impressed that “Strike Back” didn’t make Scott or Stonebridge look like fools by missing Leatherby at such close range as a contrived getaway. Instead, Leatherby took numerous bullets to the chest and he died shortly thereafter. He may be gone, but Leatherby was one of the more entertaining villains that this show has ever had.

It was kind of hilarious that both Scott and Stonebridge lifted the uncut diamonds from Leatherby’s body as an exit strategy of sorts. They may feel compelled to avenge Dalton and see their current mission through to the end, but they still want a comfortable life outside of Section 20. Scott even shares a diamond with his current lover, Katya (Rain Elwood). For those of you keeping score at home, Scott has now had a sex scene in every episode this season. Maybe this will be the year he gets lucky in all ten episodes.

Unfortunately for Scott, Katya is working for Skander. And while Katya seemed moved by Scott’s gesture and a little hesitant to sell him out to Skander, she still did it. Skander may prove to be more of a threat to Scott and Stonebridge than Al-Zuhari because they don’t even know that they’ve been marked for death. Chances are good that one of them may catch a bullet before they realize that their past is rapidly catching up with them.

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