By: John M Jerva
Season 8 Episode 1 Official Synopsis: Section 20 are reunited to rescue a biochemist who’s been taken as a hostage in Kosovo by the Albanian mafia. But as the situation escalates, a sinister conspiracy to cover up the development of the weaponized virus unfolds.
After 7 seasons, if you count the first which premiered in the UK with Richaed Armitage, Cinemax’s first ever scripted high-octane series Strike Back is back for one more mission. The final season just dropped its premiere episode an hour ago and I was able to watch it live as I have been waiting for it ever since the last season ended.
From the get go, I have been a fan of the show and the first four seasons which featured original stars Sullivan Stapleton and Philip Winchester, was a weekly shot of adrenaline with intense and amped up action set pieces that rivaled anything that was being shown in movie theaters. The two leads had great chemistry and I dare say they are without a doubt, one of the greatest action duos ever to assemble on the big or small screen.
After the fourth season, Stapleton and Winchester rode off into the sunset and a new team of fearless commandos arrived to keep the high-octane firepower and fisticuffs going. The new leads included Warren Brown as Sgt. Thomas “Mac” McAllister, Daniel MacPherson as Sgt. Samuel Wyatt and Alin Sumarwata as Lance Corporal Gracie Novin. Last year, Battlestar Galactica alum Jamie Bamber was added to the cast as wildcard leader Alexander Coltrane. I was a little skeptical of new blood taking over for the boys and thought maybe the show wouldn’t live up to the first four years but I am glad to announce that the show hasn’t missed a beat and this newer cast is just as charasmatic and lethal as the original pair. The action set pieces are also a thing of deadly beauty and you can tell the creators spent money on them. Last year alone set the bar high with the action sequences which featured one of my favorites of the entire series run.
With all that in mind, the final season is here and each week I will be offering my opinion of the that week’s episode so without further ado, here is my review for episode one of the final act.
Just like past seasons, this one starts off with a collective bang as our four elite spec ops daredevils invade Kosovo to rescue a scientist named Dr. Helen McCluskey (Lucy Russell), who is being held by Albanian criminals. Unfortunately when they get there, they discover that Coltane has not been truthful with them and this is a kill mission and not a rescue attempt.
It seems that the good doctor has been working on a weaponized virus that makes Ebola look like the common cold and the British government wants to shut her up. Of course, this doesn’t sit well with McAllister, Wyatt and Novin and after a fierce shootout where the Doc is executed anyway by a sniper, they question Coltrane because they don’t like being left in the dark on what was supposed to be a routine mission.
There is no time to reflect however as the virus is stolen by mob boss Edon (Goran Bogdan) from a lab and now Section 20 must do whatever it takes to find the virus and bring it back before countless innocent lives are lost.
The first episode hit the ground running and much like the last two seasons, the audience doesn’t get a chance to breathe as the bullets fly every couple of minutes. The cast is in top form and I especuially like the side plot involving Sumarwata’s Gracie Novin which has the elite operative dealing with a soldier’s worst fear…killing an innocent. She’s always been in control but now all bets are off. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out and it gives her character a deeper layer that will certainly unfold throughout the course of the season.
There is also the matter of whether or not Section 20 has done more good than bad while operating in a morally grey area and Coltrane will question whether or not he has done the right thing for the sake of the mission. Mac is also thrown into uncharted waters when Coltrane tells him that he is recommending him for field command as he has seen great things from the soldier but also reminds him to never question his authority again.
Make no mistake, this show is definitely all about the action and producer Jack Lothian has promised even bigger and badder action sequences that will give the movies a run for their money. In an article for TV Insider, Lothian was quoted as saying, . “There’s one in the final episode [we shot in] a canyon in Croatia with helicopters and boats that is quite spectacular. We go out with a number of bangs — each larger than the one before.” Watch the intro battle scene of the first episode below!
The first episode had enough action for one movie alone and knowing that this is the last run for the show, I think they have saved their best for last. From the opening salvo to the last shootout on the streets of Venice, the audience is in for another thrill ride of pulse pounding, entertainment. The body count is already in the double digits and this is only the first episode. What else would you expect from Strike Back?
At the end of this season’s run, I will serve up a retrospective of the entire series and wax nostalgic as this show has been one of the best action series to ever hit the television screen. It’s sad that it is coming to an end but the legacy it leaves will live on with the fans who tuned in every week like me.
Check back with me next week as I run down the second episode and judging from the preview, the action will be off the hook once again. Keep it locked and loaded right here each week for my analysis of the final season of Strike Back! Watch the episode two preview below to officially pump you up and watch the Episode 1: Declassified!