That was one hell of an episode. Pain…laughs…pain…relief…pain…pain. Mostly pain. Truly it was a struggle to watch – not because of quality, it was a well-done episode – but because several of our characters had extremely difficult moments. After so many seasons we know somewhat to expect – we know we’re going to lose people, we know our favorites are going to at least hurt, if not die. However, it truly doesn’t make it any easier. In 8 episodes we’ve given our hearts over to this Section 20 team, which means the pain they feel – we feel for them. Last night that felt particularly brutal.
We knew going in that this episode would be dealing with the aftermath of Jensen (Phil Dunster) being tortured, his eye brutally removed. And sure enough, we see him for the first time as he sees himself in the mirror. Dunster conveys shock and grief in those seconds beautifully. No crying, no screaming, just internal agony. Despite that pain Jensen, in classic 20 tradition, goes straight to work. Why deal with your emotions when you can hide them underneath activity? Novin (Alin Sumarwata) is understandably furious at this situation – and in an oops moment for her even lets on that she spent the night in the hospital by his side.
While this is happening back at HQ – Mac (Warren Brown) and Wyatt (Dan MacPherson) are headed to the black site where Idrisi is being held, intending to break in and take him for themselves before Lowry (Katherine Kelly) can get to him. Wyatt is still stinging from losing Lila, and when Mac tries to reassure him, he practically bites off Mac’s head. Wyatt will not be reassured, period. We’ve seen a lot of this over this season from Mac, he is so level headed (except around Idrisi of course) and is quietly the heart of the team, trying to keep everyone together. I find this impressive, especially considering that we started the season with his entire team being killed. He could have walled himself off, but being a team member seems to be his natural state.
Unfortunately, our team’s heart runs into trouble from the get-go. After entering the black site the boys discover that there is a metal detector – Mac can only enter after leaving behind all his weapons. Of course, that’s not a problem – until Idrisi’s torturer Dr chooses that moment to shoot a guard and free Idrisi. Cue lockdown – and Mac stuck inside with some of the world’s worst prisoners. Y’all ready for some pain – how about our man getting shot – then caught – then electrocuted? Brown was totally convincing in this scene – bravo to him, but so terrible for everyone watching! If you weren’t already convinced what a stellar actor Brown is (and if not why? Are you insane?) then this scene should cement it for you.
Wyatt is being forced to just listen to all this as he argues with the black site guards to let him go in and free Mac. Him having just broken into their site with the objective of freeing a prisoner doesn’t exactly make him super credible and they’re unwilling to do anything to help him. MacPerson also turned up the emotions here tonight – the two boys brought raw emotion to the screen in spades.
When one of the other prisoners turns against Idrisi, Mac is actually forced to rescue his torturer, running and shooting backward to get Idrisi away from the other prisoners. Two things here. One, how the heck can he even move much less run/aim after being electrocuted multiple times? And two – seriously with the filming locations – enough. We’ve seen every torn up, falling apart bunker possible at this point. It makes all these fight scenes start to blend into one. And that a high level, top secret, black site would look like this is so improbable. It’s too much. If I see any more “picturesque” hanging plastic shots I think I may cry. Why is there water on the floor? Why do all the lights flicker?
Moving on – the girls are not slacking on the job while the boys are in danger. After Col Parker (Corey Johnson) sends a location pin to Donovan (Nina Sosanya), she sends Novin and Reynolds (Roxanne McKee) to investigate. They discover that Parker’s family is being held hostage by Vulkan – Parker having been blackmailed into taking Lowry to the black site. After Novin makes a seriously badass shot through a wall to take Vulkan out, Donovan sends him the all clear.
Perfect timing! Parker arrives at the black site just as the “family is safe” message comes through from Donovan. Wyatt helps Parker get away from Lowry and her men and in return, Parker helps him get into the black site in order to rescue Mac. Parker tries to propose a coverup to Wyatt and I literally cheered when Wyatt responded, “Haven’t you heard? I’m with 20 now.” Boom.
Mac is taking down guys left and right and then – he’s out of bullets. Idrisi shoots a prisoner before he can shoot Mac, and then turns the gun on Mac. Thankfully, Wyatt arrives and grabs Idrisi. Again – the boys are running out of bullets trying to exit when the cavalry arrives – Novin and Reynolds to the rescue! The girls are able to cover everyone’s exit – an exploding exit of course. I couldn’t expect anything less.
Once outside Parker again tests Wyatt’s loyalty, still wanting ownership over Idrisi. Wyatt gives him a perfect response that I think sums up how we all feel about the leadership at this point.
So now let’s talk about some more pain. Seriously, are you ready? Back at HQ Jensen has managed to track down Project Tenebrae. Is anyone surprised when the first things he sees are pictures of Donovan and Lowry together? Turns out they were BOTH military intelligence, a super super key factor that Donovan failed to disclose. Jensen is so excited that he’s managed to crack the intel – he’s literally narrating doing it TO DONOVAN as it begins to open. Donovan slowly walks around back, and when Jensen sees those pictures she pulls a plastic bag over his head and slowly – so damn slowly – strangles him. Seeing his feet twitch under the table was killing me. I knew he was too much like Baxter. Just wait until Novin finds out next episode, I can only imagine the heartbreak and anger. Strike Back has been fatal for every Section 20 leader – this is the first time I’m actively hoping that trend continues.
Aside from my big complaint about location filming, it was a solid episode. The acting was first class – Mac in pain, Wyatt desperate to reach him, Donovan devastated by what she “has” to do and Jensen in his death throes. I think this episode will stick with everyone.
*The boys being perfect
*Novin learning that she’s Jensen’s person – the one he fully trusts.
*Wyatt trying to gain entrance into the prison and accidentally knocking out the only guard who could have granted him access.
*Reynolds really starting to stand up to Donovan – I don’t think she trusts a word coming out of Donovan’s mouth at this point. McKee is great with conveying her disdain with things as simple as the set of her mouth and her body language.
Strike Back airs next on March 30th at 10/9c
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