What’s Worth Watching: ‘Strike Back’ on Cinemax for Friday, October 9

Liam Daniel/CINEMAX
Strike BackEpisode 38 (season 4, episode 8): Sullivan Stapleton, Philip Winchester. photo: Liam Daniel/CINEMAX

Strike Back, “Episode 40: Series finale” (Friday, Oct. 9, 10/9c, Cinemax)

You’d think after averting a nuclear catastrophe last week at the United Nations in Vienna that TV’s most rugged covert soldiers might be due for a little R&R. In the world of Strike Back, those letters more regularly stand for “raunch” and “ruckus,” and the latter is particularly apt for the action-packed series finale of the show that rekindled Cinemax’s appetite for hard-charging genre drama.

Having been betrayed by their government, the last men still standing from Section 20 (though they often acted more like they were Section 8) are on the run from murderous mercenaries—led by Dustin Clare, a veteran of Starz’s Spartacus franchise—climbing every mountain and plunging from a nearby dam in a desperate attempt not to die in supposedly neutral Switzerland. The camaraderie of Michael “Mikey” Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) and Damian Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) takes on a macho Butch-and-Sundance quality as once again they’re outgunned and outmanned. And befitting a final act, they each get a reflective moment to wonder if there isn’t more to life than endless shootouts and things going boom.

Weirdly, both actors have gone on to bigger budgets (if not better series) on NBC this fall: Stapleton on breakout hit Blindspot and Winchester on what looks like an early casualty in The Player. Don’t be surprised, should The Player fold its hand early, to see Winchester doing a guest shot on Blindspot some day. These guys make beautiful carnage together.