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Strike Back - Episode 6.05 - Review: "No Place For Heroes"

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Russia 1998. Dr. Markov works on the Novachok when one of his colleagues informs him that he is about to be kicked out from the research. Markov then proceeds to release the nerve agent, killing everybody involved in the research project.

Present day, Markov works on the Novachok but he needs more time. He informs an impatient but understanding Jane Lowry that he’ll need a few more days. The pair have been using the facilities of Milos Borisovich, the powerful leader of a criminal organization, and Lowry tells him that she needs a couple more days to use his equipment. Borisovich tells her that as long as she pays she’s free to use them. Meanwhile, he makes one of his workers cut off one his fingers to show fealty. This is clearly dangerous territory.

Meanwhile, Section 20 captures Lowry’s accountant, Skinny, who gives out Lowry’s transaction records during interrogation. The team manages to track down Lowry’s most recent transactions, pinpointing her location in Borisovich’s facility. Then, Section 20 cancel Lowry’s account. Due to this, Lowry fails to pay Borisovich, who threatens her. Lowry tells him to give her a day to solve the situation. Then, she grabs a flight for Germany.

In the meantime, Section 20 assaults Borisovich’s facility, but it doesn’t goes as plan. Borisovich’s men escape with Dr. Markov and Section 20 causes the facility to catch on fire.

Running out of options, Colonel Donovan devices a plan. She informs the team that Borisovich has a ledger, which could lead them in tracking down Dr. Markov. Borisovich is currently doing his mother’s funeral party, and Novin, being proficient in Russian, is sent undercover as an escort to retrieve the ledger. Though, before this, Novin and Jensen seem to bond after the latter shows to deeply care about her.

Novin arrives with a group of escorts at Borisovich’s compound. There’s a tense scene in which two guests spar against each other with medieval swords. Borisovich puts everyone on a brief shock when he orders the winner to kill the loser, but it turns out to be a bad joke. Then, Novin starts a conversation with Borisovich, who sends her to his son’s bedroom so she can take away his virginity.

Borisovich’s son is tame and decent though, and the pair end up playing video games. As they bond, Borisovich’s son reveals to Novin about Borisovich’s safe and its combination. Novin then leaves and proceeds to the safe room, where she retrieves Borisovich’s ledger. However, the compound is alerted and Borisovich’s men engage Novin. Novin fights the guards in what I believe it to be one of the best scenes in Strike Back history. She fights for her life in a tight corridor, using medieval weapons to defend herself. She manages to survive through the horde but Borisovich intercepts her and is about to kill her when...

Section 20 launches a diversion on the compound. With Borisovich distracted, Novin runs towards a window and jumps through it, where she is picked up by Reynolds.

As they retreat, Wyatt and McAllister steal a car and drive away. Then, they realize they just stole the hearse that is transporting Borisovich’s dead mother! Just when things couldn’t get any worse, the duo is cornered by Borisovich’s men, resulting in being captured.

Meanwhile, having returned from an unsuccessful trip to Germany after one of her late husband’s allies refused to help her, Jane Lowry arrives to the Borisovich’s compound. Borisovich blames her for what happened and then imprisons her.

Later, McAllister and Wyatt find themselves in the same room as Lowry, all of them bound against a set of pilars. And then something strange happens. They engage in casual conversation and bond briefly. We catch a glimpse of Lowry’s humanity, but then she reminds us of the sociopath she is. We discover that Lowry came from an affluent family, but after experiencing the bombings and drone attacks against innocent Muslims, she converted towards the Jihadist movement. While her motivations seem to be somewhat understandable she still proves to be a sociopath, after she tells McAllister she’ll make sure his parents are saved for last. A chilling performance by Katherine Kelly, who can seems as an innocent and desperate woman from one moment, and then turns into a ruthless and calculating devil in the next. She is even more dangerous than the Jihadist movement itself, driven by hatred rather than the prospect of a noble cause.

Soon after, Borisovich arrives and spares Lowry's life, telling her that he met Dr. Markov, who seems to be promising. Lowry leaves as Borisovich prepares to execute Wyatt and McAllister. But Borisovich brings his son and tells him to shoot them himself in order to become a man. Suddenly Reynolds, Novin and Jensen attack the warehouse, rescuing Wyatt and McAllister and escaping unscathed while Borisovich and his men run for cover.

The episode closes after a man named Yuri, who is torturing another man, receives a call for Borisovich, who puts an assassination contract on Section 20.

While this episode had its flaws, it still did some things that made it improve. One of this things was giving the spotlight to Alin Sumarwata, who plays Novin. Not only her character is developed but she had a lot to do here instead of throwing one-liners like in the previous episodes. Here, Novin grows closer to techie Jensen and both actually seem to spark some chemistry. She also proves herself capable and fit enough to engage danger on her own. Which leads me to that scene in which Novin fights a bunch of hitmen in a tight and long corridor. It reminds me of the effectively choreographed fight scenes from John Wick. In this scene, the camera operator does a great job by following Novin and capturing every detail of the fight without cutting and without shaking the camera out of frame. What's ironic is that Strike Back did this two seasons back, in an episode in which Scott and Stonebridge fight their way through an enemy camp from cover to cover without the scene being cut. Kudos to the director and the camera operators, yet the writers need to be careful with the tropes.

Captain Reynolds meanwhile remains to be, if not, one of the most bland characters in the series. She barely has a personality, except for questioning Colonel Donovan's every decision. Meanwhile, McAllister and Wyatt still bicker like an old couple, but in this episode they grow fond of each other.

Another highlight is Jane Lowry, still being played wonderfully by Katherine Kelly. Her presence is undeniable yet there is still some fragility while in the next second she can turn into a precise killer. In this episode we learn that her motives are far more obscure compared to the ones of her late husband.

4 stars our of 5

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