Review: A memorable ‘Strike Back’ hurts both the heroes and villains

Earlier in the week, Cinemax announced that they’d finally be airing the original British-only season of “Strike Back” under the title “Strike Back: Origins.” Tonight’s episode of the Winchester/Stapleton version of the show, meanwhile, was notable for a few reasons, and I have some quick thoughts coming up just as soon as I call you Braveheart…

Even for a show with as high a body count as “Strike Back,” the deaths in tonight’s episode were notable: Dalton’s because Rhona Mitra had become the series’ third lead and was more prominent than Grant or Sinclair before her; Leatherby because Dougray Scott made him one of the most colorful villains in the show’s history in only a couple of episodes.

On the former, I suspect Mitra didn’t want to commit to the show long-term, and came back specifically so she could have a memorable farewell. The writers took Dalton as far as she could go over these four episodes, and it was clear by the end that she’d passed a point it would’ve been hard to return from; even when Stonebridge was having his dark period last season, you always suspected Scott could eventually pull him out of it, but Rachel didn’t have anyone in her corner like that as she waterboarded and otherwise tortured her hostage. It was a brutal final hour, and a quick and tough death for Dalton in the end. RIP.

Dougray Scott, meanwhile, is an actor who usually hasn’t done much for me (on a podcast discussion of “Hemlock Grove,” Fienberg challenged me to name a performance of his I’d genuinely liked, and I couldn’t), but he sank his teeth into the role of Leatherby and chewed it up for all it was worth. Not subtle, but this is not a show that is usually designed to reward subtlety, and Leatherby seemed dangerous even when compared to other “Strike Back” supervillains. In a way, I’m impressed the creative team bumped him off when they did; even if Leatherby had been designed as a two-episode bad guy to fulfill the show’s usual structure, I can imagine them seeing what Scott was doing and contriving an excuse to keep him around for the remainder of this mission. Instead, they stuck to their guns and didn’t have Scott overstay his welcome.

What did everybody think, both of tonight’s episode and season 3/4 so far?