‘Strike Back’ finale review: Did Stonebridge & Scott go out in a blaze of glory?

Senior Television Writer
10.09.15 18 Comments

Cinemax

A few thoughts on the end of “Strike Back” coming up just as soon as I'm just a guy carrying something that happens to be white…

“Ain't my fault you're the good guys, huh?” -Faber
“Hey, Faber? We were never that good.” -Stonebridge

“Strike Back” wrapped up its UK run earlier this year, which meant that recent news about a possible sequel film with Stonebridge and Scott was not a spoiler to anyone living in England or watching through extra-legal means. But given the design of the series in its Cinemax-affiliated incarnation, I'm not sure anyone was expecting either Michael or Damien to go out in a blaze of slo-mo glory like Faber talked about.

I mean, it could have happened, and the finale went for a fake-out earlier with Scott appearing to die after winning the fight in the river. But that seemed more a case of “Strike Back” – a show that's always been at heart a cheesy action movie, albeit an exceptionally well-made cheesy action movie – wanting to have its cake and eat it too. Throughout the Cinemax run, pretty much everyone who worked with or mattered to these guys could fall in the line of duty, but our heroes kept surviving against overwhelming, at times absurd odds(*). Had the show gone with the Butch and Sundance ending, or even one where one survived and one fell, it wouldn't have seemed a betrayal of all that came before, but nor does it feel like a cop-out to end with them once again triumphant, laughing and tooling around on their motorcycles.

(*) It helped that earlier seasons made a point of noting that they were often going against superior firepower with vastly inferior training, whereas Faber and his crew were meant to be more or less equivalent in that area.

There were some bumps in this final season, some caused by Sullivan Stapleton's injury – I imagine we would have gotten much less of Finn under healthier circumstances – some just from the seams showing a bit more after all this time. (In the premiere, for instance, Locke has a whole bunch of chances to save the day simply by yelling at the embassy security guards, “HE HAS A BOMB IN HIS BAG!,” but never does it because the season's arc needed that plot to succeed.) But Michelle Yeoh made a great final villain, the fight scenes remained top notch to the end, and the finale made a few nice final statements on the difference between being a soldier and a killer.

Stapleton and Philip Winchester have moved on to NBC shows, with “Blindspot” a hit that nonetheless has no idea how to use Stapleton, while “The Player” is a better showcase for Winchester that very few people seem to be watching. It'd be nice if they could just keep working together on this show instead for a long time to come, but this is one series where I don't particularly mind the idea of a follow-up movie. As much fun as it was watching the “Strike Back” production team work wonders on a tiny budget and cramped schedule, I can only imagine how cool it would be to see Scott and Stonebridge wreaking their special brand of mayhem on a big screen.

What did everybody else think? Was this a satisfying end to the series?

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