The week we take a dive into the head of Sgt Wyatt (Dan MacPherson), seeing him put through the ringer on the continuing the hunt for Lowry (Katherine Kelly). MacPherson really allowed his emotional range to shine this episode, those big blues conveying grief to a t. It takes a good deal of careful (and strong) acting to be able to dive so deep emotionally while still carrying off the kind of action that Strike Back demands.
Picking up directly after 20 has intercepted a phone call with Lowry about Omair, we see Wyatt venting his frustration at the idea that Omair Idrisi (Don Hany) could still be alive. He spends a good deal of the beginning of this episode coming to terms with it, arguing with any evidence that could mean he missed his shot. Mac (Warren Brown) gives him some good-natured ribbing, in the beginning, a lot of comments about allowing him to shoot next time, but after Wyatt’s disbelief becomes too much, Mac finally confronts him, “you don’t believe a man can survive a bomb or a bullet because of your pride!?”
Wyatt explains, “No, it’s because if he’s alive it means that someone is fucking lying to us…I accept that my government lies to me on a daily basis, but not about shit like this, not on this scale.” The sense of betrayal that Wyatt feels is palpable. If they’ve been lied to, it is by the American Colonel that Wyatt called in episode 1 – his old boss. Wyatt came into this whole thing as a lone wolf and he liked it that way. We’ve only just seen him starting to become a part of the team, and seeming to find comfort in that. I worry that this betrayal by an old boss could derail that progress.
The team is able to track down the owner of a contracting company they believe may have the answers to Idrisi’s status and location. Unfortunately, Lowry is able to get there first and while there gets confirmation that Idrisi is alive and a name – Rachel Sheridon (Dirvla Kirwan), as a clue to his location. The team arrives a split second too late, taking down Lowry’s men as she escaped. We got one of my favorite scenes of the night here, Wyatt and Mac working in perfect sync – shooting the same guy first from the right, then the left so that he spun quietly into the pool.
Thankfully the team is able to locate 2 key things – the first is a video of Lowry questioning the CEO, the second is a man named Vulkan – MI6’s informant who had given them Lowry’s location in the first place. (Let it be noted this is the guy who made Lowry terrified and cry a few episodes back – things have certainly changed. This seems super inconsistent. How on earth was she terrified of him then, and seems to be in charge now? Maybe she needed the motivation of Omair being alive?).
Back at headquarters Donovan (Nina Sosanya) tells the team that they MUST find Rachel Sheridon before Lowry, they cannot allow her to break Idrisi free. At this point, Reynolds (Roxanne McKee) pulls Donovan aside to question why information (such as the presence of an MI6 mole) is being kept from her. Donovan is very defensive, brushing off Reynolds yet again. In this case, though, Reynolds calls her out, she knows exactly what Donovan is doing – using the same mind games on her that she would on a hostile witness. Donovan barks back and then dismisses Reynolds. Chalk that up on shady chart y’all.
After successfully convincing Vulkan to help them find Lowry, Wyatt, and Mac drop him off at his old haunts, tracker engaged. Lowry is smart though y’all, and has already prepped Vulkan’s men that IF he showed up, it’d be after betraying them. They immediately take him down and crush the tracker. Vulkan wakes up tied to a chair trying to protest his innocence, but Lowry gives a whole creepy speech about losing his faith – and how she’d help him find it again. This was beautifully, and eerily shot – this beautiful, empty room – the light, everything. When Lowry tells Vulkan that she’s going to help him get his faith back it means terrible, terrible things for our most innocent Section 20 team member. After a disastrous trip with Novin (Alin Sumarwata), Jensen (Phil Dunster) gets kidnapped by Vulkan and tortured. This was gut wrenching to watch. I knew he reminded me too much of Baxter – Jensen is so earnest and it’s hard to watch his innocence stripped away – along with his eye! Phil Dunster performed AMAZINGLY.
While this is happening we see Wyatt, Mac, and Novin track down Rachel Sheridon’s daughter Lila (Sai Bennett) at a local bar. Wyatt attempts to flirt his way into her confidence, failing miserably and has to resort to dragging her out of the bar when Lowry’s hired gunmen show up. While Mac and Novin take care of the bad guys, Wyatt convinces (sort of) Lila that she needs to flee – although she means to do this on her own, handcuffing him to the bed instead of accepting his help. Thankfully, Mac and Novin show up just in time, resulting in sheer comic perfection as Wyatt tries to act casual about being handcuffed and half naked.
Although Lila is unwilling to give up her mom’s location, the team is able to follow her to Rachel’s barn. Unbeknownst to them, Jensen had given up the location while he was being tortured and they’re not alone long. The timing here really bothers me – I don’t see how Jensen could have known about the barn before he was captured. Nonetheless, Rachel gives them a location for Idrisi and some tips on getting into the dark site, just before Lowry’s men show up and there is the necessary gun fight. Lila freaks out when bullets are flying, bolts for it and is shot.
This is where we see Dan MacPherson shine – Wyatt is utterly devasted by Lila’s death. Connections happen in the blink of an eye when you’re in stressful situations and he already had felt one with Lila. Wyatt loses it and goes full cowboy, shooting an RPG at Lowry’s men, then storming outside by himself with nothing but a handgun. The sheer rage and loss on his face was difficult to watch.
After all of Lowry’s men are gone, Wyatt reenters the barn, positioning Lila’s body gently in a solitary goodbye, before exiting the back of the barn. We see him backlit, all alone – again, I’m really hoping we don’t see him detaching from the team as a result of this loss.
Another heartbreaking episode this week. I’m glad to see this week and last focusing on this personal experience and showing our team emotional and just damn worn out. Donovan and Lowry combined are wearing them down and I think we’re going to really see that in the last 3 episodes of the season. This season just keeps getting better and I really hope Cinemax will renew for a season 7. I’d hate to see this team really gel only to be cut short. I think this could be great if given the chance.
*Lila in the bar to Wyatt- “It’s my opinion that the majority of metaphysical philosophy was written by unattractive men who were terrified of the opposite sex”
*Novin visiting Jensen at the hospital – she may not believe their relationship can survive given their job – but she cares so much more than she’s willing to let on
*Rachel Sheridon telling the team, “you’re all either very brave or very stupid. Because you might manage to find a way in, but there is no way you’ll ever get out.”
Strike Back next airs March 23rd at 10/9c on Cinemax
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