As Strike Back enters its final season, the show isn’t letting elite intelligence agents Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) and Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) off easy. In the first episode, set in Thailand, they battle baddies who have kidnapped the British ambassador’s daughter. From there, they face North Korean terrorists, the Japanese Yakuza and the Russian Mafia, among others.
But the Strike team’s biggest obstacle was off camera. Stapleton suffered a serious head injury after he fell out of a tuk-tuk vehicle in Thailand, forcing the show into hiatus and moving the final season back a year. “It was a big shock,” says director and co–executive producer Michael Bassett. “Sully’s an indestructible guy, but he can get hurt like anyone else.”
Once Stapleton healed, he and Winchester resumed filming in Thailand and Hungary. “I think the last two episodes are exactly what the audience needs to be left with [regarding] Scott and Stonebridge and their relationship,” Winchester says, adding that it provides closure to “what they and the audience have been through for 40 episodes.” Through the series’ run, Stonebridge lost his family while Scott discovered he had a son. Says Bassett: “I wanted to be able to say we went out big. They both go on long journeys—emotionally and physically—that are going to be rewarding.”
Winchester and Stapleton are each heading to NBC this fall (on new dramas The Player and Blindspot, respectively) and Bassett will direct episodes of both shows. “We’ve got the two best-trained action actors out there,” he says. “I pushed them as far as they possibly could go this year.”
Strike Back, Season premiere, Friday, July 31, 10/9c, Cinemax