Episode Title: "Episode 6"
Writer: Richard Zajdlic
Director: Alex Holmes
Previously on "Strike Back"
In the aftermath of Captain Kate Marshall's (Eva Birthistle) brutal death, Section 20 was ordered to track down Latif's (Jimi Mistry) weapons supplier, Gerald Crawford (Iain Glen). When Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) and Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) caught up with him, Crawford claimed that his daughter, Dr. Clare Somersby (Laura Haddock) was being held by Tahir ( Adewale Akinnuoye Agbaje) — the deadly leader of the Janjaweed marauders — and he agreed to give Latif to Section 20 if they helped him save his daughter.
While posing as Crawford's employees with Stonebridge and Major Oliver Sinclair (Rhashan Stone), Scott ran into a war zone journalist named Maggie (Rachel Shelley), whom he knew from previous overseas encounters. Maggie alerted Scott to the fact that Crawford had already hired a mercenary team to help him retrieve his daughter, so Scott hijacked the cab of her driver, Jacoub (Abdul Salis) to take out two members of the mercenary team before relying on Jacoub and Maggie to get him to the exchange in time. At the meeting, Tahir rejected their attempts to buy Clare's safety with cash instead of weapons and he cut off her ear as a threat. Crawford's remaining mercenary team opened fire and as Tahir escaped with Clare, Scott was shot and badly wounded.
As Maggie and Sinclair brought Scott to medical help, the unlikely team of Stonebridge, Crawford and Jacoub came together to hunt down Tahir and save Clare.
In the desert, Tahir brings Clare to the mass grave where he had the body of her fiancee dropped. He tells her that she can join her lover in death or live with him as his woman. With not other choice, Clare accepts. At the hospital, Sinclair reports back to Col. Eleanor Grant (Amanda Mealing) about the disastrous exchange and Scott's impending surgery when government guards storm the building to arrest him. To save Maggie, Sinclair tells her to pretend that she doesn't know him before he is taken away. Scott lasts a little bit longer and he finds a sympathetic nurse to help him before he passes out from his wound. However, the soldiers quickly find him and the nurse.
Out in the desert, Jacoub guides Stonebridge and Crawford towards the Janjaweed camp and he tells them that Scott promised him a new car and cash if he helped them. At the hospital, Scott wakes up after life-saving surgery and finds that he is under guard by forces loyal to Matak Achmed (Fraser James), the corrupt government official working with Tahir. Back to Stonebridge, he and his makeshift team catch a Janjaweed raider to get information about their camp. And at that very camp, Clare is tended to by her female friend who tells her that she will be safe as Tahir's woman. Clare promises to find a way to save her as well, but the woman simply says that not everyone can be saved.
As they travel towards Tahir, Stonebridge tries to make Crawford give up his information on Latif before their suicide mission reaches its end. But all Crawford will tell him is that Latif has a spy inside British intelligence. And even a gun to his head can't make Crawford say more than that before Clare is saved. In Darfur, Col. Grant arrives to oversee the release of her men. But first she meets with Maggie and demands all of the photos that she took of the botched exchange for Clare. In a subsequent meeting with Matak, Grant is able to get Sinclair released but not Scott. However, she makes sure that Matak knows that she has pictures of him trying to escape with the ransom money at the botched exchange.
At the Janjaweed camp, Stonebridge and his team await their opportunity while Tahir prepares to take Clare by force. Outside, Clare's friend runs from the soldiers as they attempt to rape and molest her. She grabs a grenade from one of the soldiers and blows up several of them with herself, giving Stonebridge the chance that he needs. Tahir comes out of his quarters with a knife to Clare's throat, but Najim (Siyabonga Xaba), a young boy whom Clare had befriended at the aid camp stabs Tahir, giving Stonebridge the shot at Tahir. Clare is less than happy to see her father, who is broken hearted… but he still retrieves the ransom money.
As they speed off with Clare and Najim to avoid the returning Janjaweed soldiers, Tahir rises and reveals that Stonebridge's bullets struck his multiple layers of kevlar. At the hospital, Grant disguises herself as a nurse and frees Scott from custody. He tells her that Crawford's mercenaries had access to a helicopter and while she pursues that lead with one of Crawford's hospitalized team members, Scott kills Matak when he attempts to murder Scott. Out in the desert, Clare tends to Stonebridge's leg wound and she learns that he is from the British government. He tells her that Crawford will give them valuable intelligence on a deadly terrorist in exchange for her safety. But she realizes that the only way he would know anything is if he was already working with the terrorist.
The Janjaweed and Tahir catch up to the group near a government checkpoint set up by Matak, with Crawford mortally wounded in the first exchange. As Stonebridge and Jacoub hold off the assault, Clare tends to Crawford and reconciles with her father while she can. He whispers a name to her before he dies. Stonebridge is once again confronted by Tahir, but this time Stonebridge makes sure that he is dead. Scott and Grant then arrive with Crawford's other mercenaries by helicopter to extract them. He tells Grant that Crawford gave the name of the British spy to Clare before he died.
For Jacoub and the orphaned boy, it's a happy ending as they get the ransom cash and the stolen jeep. Later in a hotel room, a recuperating Scott convinces Maggie to step away from her computer long enough for another sexual encounter.
Even in an episode in which Scott is badly wounded, he still finds time to bed the girl of the week… although I suppose being with Maggie twice in two episodes is as close to a serious relationship as Scott can get. Scott's ongoing sexcapades are quickly becoming one of "Strike Back's" signature elements. If you're looking for a "Strike Back" drinking game, take a shot every time Scott drops his pants.
So far, "Strike Back" has been set up as two episode miniarcs, with a separate guest cast for each arc. Like Liam Cunningham before him, Iain Glen had the most memorable guest role as Crawford. However, Glen was able to bring more pathos to Crawford's portrayal and actually make him sympathetic before the end. While watching Crawford, it was difficult to tell when he was lying and whether he was being sincere. I kept expecting him to betray Stonebridge. But in his last moments, it was clear that Crawford really did love Clare more than anything else.
The boy Najim had one of more oddly hilarious moments of the episode when he used a grenade to blow the hell out of a government checkpoint. But it was handled in such a straight forward manner that I wonder if the writer realized how funny that came across onscreen. There was supposed to be an element of tragedy about Najim, after his mother was killed and he stabbed Tahir. However, it didn't register as strongly as it could have. I can see why Jacoub and Najim essentially adopted each other as family, since they each fill the respective holes in their lives. It may have been a little cheesy for them to drive off together with the cash, but I can't begrudge them a happy ending. It's not like anyone else got one.
In the last two episodes, Philip Winchester has upped his game as Stonebridge by making his character more intense. There were occasional moments that didn't ring true, but for the most part it's given Stonebridge the edge he needs to be more than just Scott's straight man. This was a mission of redemption for Stonebridge, even though he didn't get everything that he wanted out of it.
My primary issue with "Strike Back" is that the overall plot is moving at glacial pace. There hasn't been any real movement on the Latif storyline since the second episode. On the whole, the series has been entertaining, but its lack of focus could be a problem if the season doesn't wrap everything up in the remaining four episodes.
Crave Online Rating: 7.5 out of 10.