Strike Back (S08E04) “Episode Four”

After the last solid, but slow episode 3, director Bill Eagles shot out of the gate, through the field and straight on until morning with this incredibly action-packed episode.

 

***Spoilers ahead***

Looking back on episode 4, the impressions that stick out are all stairways, desperation and an overall sense of excited dread. Excited dread? I’m pretty sure that’s a thing. A friend referred to this as “The Raid” episode and she was entirely correct. That heightened tension that pervades almost unceasingly, and yet, isn’t too much. It rides a narrow line perfectly.

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Novin
credit to HBO PR
Alin Sumarwata

Yes, she gets an entire section all to herself this time. Alin, as Corporal Gracie Novin was an immediate fan favorite from her first episode. A ton of rage, badassery, and snark wrapped in one tiny, super-fit package. She’s been through hell the last 3 seasons and boy does it show. We kicked off this episode with her being kidnapped and spent almost an hour watching her get beat to smithereens. Was the plastic bag, that allusion to poor Jensen, the most brutal thing you’ve seen on tv in a while? That might be because it was almost as hard to film as to watch – yes that’s really happening. That took some serious trust and guts.

Most importantly, that one shot. Novin, showing every bit how exhausted and just DONE she is, nevertheless manages to whirl her way through a seemingly neverending flow of baddies. Up and down, in and out of rooms, with fists, belts, guns and a machete. It very much reminds me of season 6, episode 5 hallway scene. Just taken up a notch. A really remarkable feat of planning, writing, stunt work and acting by all involved.

Relationships

Strike Back is a show about family, and boy is it a dysfunctional one. Sometimes though, they can pull together and create greatness. Zarkova (Yasemin Kay Alin), Chetters (Varada Seethu), and Coltrane (Jamie Bamber) working together to get the team out of an impossible situation was fabulous. Wyatt (Dan MacPherson) reaching out to Novin to try and reassure her was heartbreaking, if ineffective.

That same care and family relationships they build can cause some heartache as well. Tell me you all didn’t choke up when Smegeal (Hot Cop) died, Mac (Warren Brown) looking on in dismay. Families who fight together die together? God, let’s hope that doesn’t become a theme.

Crazy Pants

Ok. Zayef (Alec Secareanu) is nuts. I mean. He’s not just a bad guy he’s crazy pants. The way he talks to his brother Mahir (Bamshad Abedi-Amin) is so incredibly disturbing. Matter of factly telling him to sacrifice himself, and then laughing it off as a joke? Uh. No thank you. Both brothers are so well portrayed, as always Strike Back gives us baddies with hearts and interests we can relate to. Still crazy, but relatable. At this point, I’m honestly confused as to his end game. That’s very unusual by ep 4, but Jack Lothian (showrunner) did promise lots of surprises.

Favorite Moments

*The one shot. Forever

*Coltrane telling that woman “you have a lovely house” after yelling at her, threatening her and then using her window as a sniper perch. Such a gentleman.

*Coltrane telling Wyatt to kill Zarkova. This is a weird one because it was the first time I ever hated Coltrane. Wyatt’s so close to the edge, to put this on him felt unconscionable. However, I’m picking it as a favorite moment for the enormous emotion it evoked in me.

*Zarkova is alive! Seriously this makes me happy. I can daydream about a Zarkova – Novin spinoff without an unfortunate death to consider. So far.

All in All

A great ep4, a solid block and confusing as hell. With everything bouncing around and loads of stuff still in play I honestly have no idea what to expect. Frustratingly, a great place to be as a fan.

 

You can check out the newest podcast about this episode below. Included is an interview with director Bill Eagles