If this week’s Strike Back episode had a subtitle, it would be called “The One With All The Questionable Decisions.”
“Episode 7” is the first episode since Thomas “Mac” McAllister’s (Warren Brown) tragic death, and we don’t really get that emotional scene that we’re looking for, where the Section 20 team falls apart in the absence of Alpha One. Instead, we get a tremendous tilt, with several characters doing things that they probably shouldn’t be doing, and the grief comes out in little ways in the midst of all these suspect proceedings.
Sir James Spencer (John Michie) has decided it’s a good idea to join Section 20 in the field, and manages not to die off the top of the show, but he’s still a liability after 20 years riding a desk – a fact his subordinate and longtime friend Alexander Coltrane (Jamie Bamber) points out. Spencer, in return, scolds Coltrane for taking Mac’s death too personally, as Coltrane believes that he all but drove Mac to his demise.
Speaking of driving, Samuel Wyatt (Daniel MacPherson) still sucks at it. After making a terrible decision to break away from the team on a raid to chase a runaway suspect – something that will understandably give the Strike Back viewers some Mac vibes – Wyatt takes a shot in the vest. Plus, his impulsive decision pulls Gracie Novin (Alin Sumarwata) away from the rest of the team, as she’s busy covering him. That’s a huge tactical error, and then Wyatt nearly drives the van carrying himself, Novin and Coltrane off the edge of a cliff.
Everyone’s a bit of a mess in this episode, while they chase down the biggest arms dealer in the Balkans in hopes of keeping his many, many, many guns from being spread into the wrong hands throughout Europe. What they do when they find him, well, that just proves they’re definitely not the same people from two episodes ago.
“Episode 7” is also the proper re-appearance of Arianna Demachi (Ivana Milicevic), after Strike Back showed her running away from the scene of Mac’s death. Arianna and her son Loric (Maxim Baldry) are now fully on the dark side, and also have their sights set on the same arms dealer. If you had any hope that Loric could be swayed, it goes out the window when he stages a bank robbery and pretends to be a hostage so he and Zayef (Alec Secareanu) can get into the vault. As for Arianna, she is most definitely the new antagonist of the piece and starts toying with our heroes.
It’s an interesting episode because there are moments where our heroes aren’t very likable, and others where you kind of second-guess them. But while we may not get that emotional payoff of watching them grieve for Mac the way we as an audience have done, it’s interesting to see the shift in how all the actors play their characters. Will that continue as the season goes on? Well, Section 20 would have to survive first.
Strike Back airs Fridays at 10:00 p.m. on Cinemax.