Cinemax action hit Strike Back will be back to strike again in 2012, powered by strong ratings and a growing cadre of passionate fans – including many who held mock funerals when 24 was canceled.
Actually I made that last past up, but as the drive to prevent terrorist mastermind Latif (Jimi Mistry) from setting off a WMD races toward its finale, the state of suspended animation that viewers settle into between installments is strikingly familiar. My prediction is that SB, too, will be an even bigger hit on DVD than on first broadcast, with viewers devoting entire lost weekends to the adventures of Section 20 operatives Scott and Stonebridge.
And just to make sure we don’t rest too easy after hearing this news, a warning note is sounded in the official press release: “Due to plot spoilers in upcoming episodes, the cast of season two will be announced at a later date.” This could be a fake out, of course, designed just to keep us on edge, but I wouldn’t count on it.
One advantage that Strike Back certainly has over 24: it isn’t locked into a format that dictates the rhythm of every installment. Episode 8 is a welcome change up, with the straight-ahead structure of a classic adventure story – of a Western, in fact, in which two veteran wilderness scouts escort a group of stranded pioneers through injun territory to the safety of the nearby fort.
In a story set in ultra-corrupt post-Soviet Kosovo, though, it’s a little harder to tell the white hats from the black. The cavalry officers who come riding up on their noble ATVs may not want to rescue you after all. They may be looking to slice out your liver for sale to the highest bidder. The "Dexter meets X-Files sequence in which in which a group of mercenary surgeons gear up to extract salable body parts is an all-too plausible horrorshow.
The two leads were impressively coordinated partners last time, but now they’ve been separated and Episode 8 is a Damien Scott special, the one we’ve been waiting for, in which a willowy blonde touches him so deeply that he decides not to go to bed with her. Scott also comes a step or two closer to unraveling the conspiracy that that he caught wind of in Iraq, the secret that got him cashired. We’ve gathered in past episodes that his troubles were closely related to the weapons Latif plans to unleash in episodes 9 and 10.
The finale will mark the return to the show of the excellent director Daniel Percival (Dirty War) who in the first few episodes set Strike Back’s distinctive tone -- which could best be described as hell-bent with heart, in which ferocious action has dramatic significance and is undertaken for a reason.
[PHOTO: Sullivan Stapleton, Annabelle Wallis. Photographer: Egon Endrenyi/Cinemax.]