There’s really no need to recap Strike Back season 7, episode 3, because all of the Cinemax show’s fans will recall this one as “the one where Katrina Zarkova comes back.”
That’s right, this is the episode where the Russian operative (once again played beautifully by Yasemin Kay Allen) from Strike Back season 6 just so happens to appear in the middle of Section 20’s operation. Or maybe they’re in the middle of her operation. And from that point on it’s oil and water all over again, unless you’re the viewing audience, who probably spent the rest of “Episode 3” snickering in delight.
Allen gets one of the best opening lines in Strike Back history, as Katrina re-introduces herself by saying, “You f–ked up my mission…and also, hello.” It’s all downhill from there, in the best way.
If you’re a hardcore Strike Back fan, chances are you weren’t that surprised by seeing Katrina Zarkova again. While she was gravely injured at the end of season 6, she was still alive, and it was very clear that there were stories left to tell with the character. The fact that she’s returned isn’t what makes this such a huge deal; it’s what having her back in play means for the rest of the final season. It just got a lot more complicated.
Katrina is a fun character to have around, because she’s got more jokes than a stand-up comedian. She immediately tells Manisha Chetri (Varada Sethu) that she’s glad she’s “still alive,” is engaged in a never-ending snark battle with Gracie Novin (Alin Sumarwata), and still clearly has a crush on Alexander Coltrane (Jamie Bamber). She is, essentially, the mean girl from high school.
At the same time, she can never be trusted. Just as in last season, Katrina’s role in Strike Back season 7 is purposefully enigmatic. She may be working with Section 20, even enjoy spending time with them, but there is nothing that is ever going to change her allegiance or the fact that her own interests come first. If you watched the promo at the end of this episode, you know that the bridges are already burning. And for a squad that’s already coming apart on its own, they don’t need any help in that department.
Coltrane, Novin, Thomas “Mac” McAllister (Warren Brown) and Samuel Wyatt (Daniel MacPherson) are all headed toward different places in their lives; it’s hard enough for them to predict where they’re going. And then you throw in this fifth element that deliberately disrupts them? You may as well have lobbed in a hand grenade – which is, of course, what makes it fun for the audience and fun for showrunner Jack Lothian.
If there’s any off-screen danger here, it’s that this also being the final season of Strike Back, it shouldn’t turn into a Katrina story. She was naturally a major part of last season because she and the Russians were the big bad. But in any final season of a TV show, viewers want it to center on the main characters we’ve followed for years; they should drive the story, get those big moments, and have the most screen time. Katrina can add a lot to this season, but she should never overshadow Section 20 and their journey to the end.
Yet it definitely feels good to have her back. The only way this could have turned out any better would have been to also bring back Alec Newman, who was fabulous last season, but seeing as his character Pavel is dead and this is not The Walking Dead that would have been a bit hard. At least with Yasemin Kay Allen, it feels like a missing piece has been plugged back into the puzzle.
And it also prompts the question: if we’re bringing characters back, can we start talking about the possibility of having Scott and Stonebridge make one last appearance in the series finale? That would certainly be a return that would have the entire TV universe talking.
Strike Back airs Fridays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on Cinemax.