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Strike Back: Legacy - Season 5 Series Finale Review: "A Spectacular Finish"


Watching the series finale of any television series is never an easy tasks, but there are few things better in the world of television than seeing a series finale done right, and done spectacularly, especially when you are talking about a series as great as Strike Back.

Episode 9 and Episode 10 of Strike Back: Legacy didn't disappoint. Jack Lothian wrote both episodes with Michael J. Bassett in the directors chair for both episodes too. Episode 9 focused heavily on winding up the North Korean/Office 39 storyline, while Episode 10 was, in a nutshell, the big finale and final stand.

Episode 9 started rather ominously as brief moment of foreshadowing had Michael Stonebridge entering the UN's conference room at gunpoint, with Damien Scott having been killed. This was a great way to lift the heart rate early on in the piece.

Not long ago prior, Philip Locke had received word from Whitehall that Section 20 had been disbanded. Despite the North Koreans, led by Li-Na and Kwon, still being in play, the men at the desks back in London had changed their minds. It took mere moments from when the news came through for Scott, Stonebridge and Locke to emphatically declare they were committing to stop the attack.

On site, the stage was set with Locke running the operation from outside the building with Scott and Stonebridge right at home in the field. An accidental collision saw Scott scoop a staff swipe card, and the game was on. The head of security had other ideas, though, cutting the pair off before they could infiltrate deeper into the building. When the North Koreans made their grand entrance courtesy of a power cut, Scott and Stonebridge freed themselves from security and got to work.

I feel naked without my gun.

The shootouts and combat scenes right through this season have been fantastic on the whole, but these were stepped up a further notch in Episodes 9 and 10. It didn't take long for the duo to run into Office 39 resistance, and they narrowly escaped falling victims to a kill box when the security guy, who was loyal to North Korea, steered the pair plus the tour guide Scott had lifted his staff pass from earlier, into a hallway locked at both ends. Escaping into the elevator shaft through a vent, the pair were confronted by said tour guide who also happened to be Office 39. While Scott and Stonebridge could have easily disarmed her, Scott instead talked her onto his side - a move that was to pay huge dividends shortly afterward.

While Li-Na was broadcasting her propaganda-filled speech to the masses from the debating room, Stonebridge entered while at the gunpoint of the tour guide Scott had just turned. Scott, as seen in the foreshadowed scene at the start of the episode, wasn't dead, but took a few potshots from the catwalk above the room while Stonebridge picked a few off from ground level. In typical Strike Back fashion, Scott joined his buddy by abseiling down. The news wasn't all good though, because the nuclear bomb had been armed and Li-Na wouldn't reveal the disarm code, despite Stonebridge putting a fresh bullet into a new part of Kwon's body each time she didn't comply. Kwon eventually finished himself off with a knife to the throat.

What do you mean you are calling a friend? This isn't Who Wants To Be A Millionaire!
No, its who wants to survive.

This didn't solve the ticking timebomb issue though. This was probably the one part of the finale that ground my gears a little. Of course the code Li-Na wasn't going to hand over the disarm code to Scott and Stonebridge. Of course the code she did hand over was going to shorten the remaining time if it didn't blow the bomb up right then and there. Though we've seen novices on the phone to more experienced people while disarming bombs numerous times in past television shows and movies, the creative team did innovate slightly with Scott initiating his "phone a friend" option, and cutting the wire he didn't recommend.

With the bomb sussed, seemingly all that remained was to hand a captive Li-Na over to the authorities and call it a day, but the Swiss Army had other thoughts, forcing Locke to act by commandeering a SUV and crashing it through the building to pick the three up.

When the group were free, they sought to hand Li-Na over to Whitehall officials, but this didn't go to plan either, with Charles, one of Locke's superiors, turned the tables and had a private military group consisting of Americans Faber and Mason, who we met in Episode 4. In the closing moments of Episode 9, Scott and Stonebridge managed to escape with Locke in a helicopter, though Locke unfortunately died and the helicopter went down.

Episode 9 was a great episode, but it's Episode 10, the series finale which I thought was the better of the two. I had a strong but sad feeling that the creative team would kill off Locke in Episode 9 to give the fans an entire episode of Scott and Stonebridge going solo.

You wanna get even? Then let's get smart, and let's move out.

Scott and Stonebridge were understandably visibly furious at having the last of their Section 20 colleagues killed, especially by their own country. On their own, and miraculously uninjured from the bad helicopter crash-landing, but with almost no ammunition, it was time for the pair to get creative, as the lack of ammunition was a problem the faced for the entire hour.

The pair hiked to a farmhouse and rested up for the night, and it was there that we saw the first of a number of more reflective, reminiscent dialog and scenes from both Scott and Stonebridge. Stonebridge was in the spotlight at first, talking about his wishes for a more normal life and a family.

There wasn't too much time for more because Faber and Mason were rapidly closing in. Fortunately, the pair thought they were on their way to a CIA weapons cache stored in the bowels of a dam that one of Scott's former CIA contacts had advised them of. Unfortunately, the cache had been cleaned out prior to their arrival, and once again Faber and Mason were hot on their tail. Perhaps my favorite moment out of both episodes was to follow, and that was when one of the pair waited for a few of the enemy men to advance into the control building they were hiding in before popping a grenade out of the trapdoor. Before anyone knew what had happened, the place was a right mess. Being a drone/UAV enthusiast, it was also great to see some beautiful shots from the aerial platforms around this very picturesque set.



Despite the sneaky grenade, Scott and Stonebridge were forced to leap from the top of the dam into the water below. That was where the first of several serious injuries was incurred, with Scott taking a bullet to the abdomen. The pair split up, with Scott remaining in a secluded waterway while Stonebrdige scouted the area.In a masterful piece of directing, both men encountered opposition simultaneously, with Scott using the classic underwater straw trick to ambush his sole attacker while Stonebridge did a number on two more. Stonebridge returned to Scott in the nick of time as he had ended up in the water during his combat. While he was out of it, he dreamed of his deceased girlfriend, Julia Richmond, which was a really nice touch.

The next thing Scott knew, he was in a bed in a cabin located by one of his former colleagues, Christy Bryant. It wouldn't be a Strike Back series finale without a steamy scene or two, and that was destined to happen between the pair. Stonebridge actually did something productive while his mate was bonking, as he laid an IED for the impending ambush. All this time, Scott and Stonebridge had been unaware that Bryant had betrayed them and was working with Faber and Mason instead. This marked the beginning of the final showdown as Scott and Stonebridge fought for their lives against perhaps the toughest opposition they've ever faced

We're a couple of soldiers, not fuckin' thieves.

Both boys took hits to a leg and Stonebridge ended up with a large knife through his left hand. it wasn't long before the pair were on their last legs and pinned down in a shed when Faber waved a white flag and suggested the pair pay him a large sum to be spared, under the assumption that they had been clipping the ticket since their time in the military began. This was a great scene largely because it was acted and directed so well, in addition to the fact that Faber left the barn with two bullets to the back of his head. In the last stand, Scott and Stonebridge somehow managed to ground out a win with no further injures. The directing and cinematography here didn't disappoint either.



After the firefight faded to black, the last few minutes resumed with Stonebridge, dressed to the nines but still sporting the scars of battle, dropping the dog tags of Julia Richmond, Philip Locke, and Damien Scott on Charles' desk. Philip Winchester did a superb job with his script delivery here.

Fortunately, Scott wasn't dead. Rather, Stonebridge dropped his dog tags on Charles' desk so Scott could officially be marked as dead. The pair reunited in America on touring bikes with Scott's son Finn in tow. This was exactly how I wanted Strike Back's two main men to finish their careers. Though the initially headed separate ways on their bikes, it was only a few moments before Stonebridge turned around and joined his buddy on the way to Las Vegas.

It was the perfect way to close out a terrific five seasons on our screens. Despite the casualties we've seen this season, most notably Julia Richmond and Philip Locke, having just Scott and Stonebridge make it out alive together has a special feeling about it that is very hard to describe. I must admit I was almost certain the creative team wouldn't kill either of the pair in the finale episodes, but they did a great job producing many moments of tension and nervousness in me as a viewer, while ensuring the classic humor Strike Back is so good at was ever-present, as seen in some of the quotes above.

In all, I'm sad to see Strike Back depart, but thrilled it did so in such spectacular fashion. I'm going to miss the constant action, humor, and creativity exhibited by dynamic, likable characters portrayed by a superb cast of actors. The new story each season isn't an option pursued very often by showrunners today, but Strike Back is a shining example of execution and suitability for it. Ten episodes where all that remains the same is a handful of characters makes it very easy to pick the series up without having to watch all the past episodes for the pieces to click together.

In terms of the action genre, very few television series hit the same marks Strike Back hits in this area on a regular basis. Especially as the series has matured, the stunts, cinematography, set design, and general accuracy just to name a few are always very well executed, making for a great finished product for viewers to enjoy.

As always, thanks for reading my final Strike Back review as well as the reviews for the previous episodes of this season. Please do share your thoughts on the series finale as well as this season in general in the comments below - I always enjoy reading and replying to them!

Phillip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton both return to screens this Fall on NBC in freshman series The Player and Blindspot respectively. Both are well worth a look. For US readers and Cinemax subscribers, the final season of Strike Back hits your screens this Friday, July 31, at 10pm.

About the Author - Jimmy Ryan
Jimmy Ryan lives in New Zealand, and works in the IT industry. He is an avid follower of drama television and has a keen interest for television ratings and statistics. Some of his favorite shows right now are Person of Interest, Scandal, House of Cards, Orphan Black, The Blacklist, The 100, How To Get Away With Murder, Elementary and Castle. You can visit his television ratings website, www.seriesmonitor.com or follow him on Twitter, @SeriesMonitor.
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