This past year, the most recent installment of Universal’s Fast & Furious franchise surpassed $1.5 billion at the global box office. However, the interesting thing about Fast & Furious is that, overall, it lacks greatly in specific aspects that one would imagine would lead to massive success, the most glaring aspect of which is story. The franchise, as a whole, does not contain well thought out narratives. However, narrative is not what’s led to the series’ financial dominance. It’s not the thing that’s turned it into a pop-culture icon. No, that recognition falls to something that, time and time again, we must be reminded matters far more than story: character. And, it’s this same reasoning by which we can judge the final season of Cinemax’s fantastically stupid, but gloriously awesome Strike Back.
In its final run, Section 20 is tasked with rescuing the kidnapped daughter of a British ambassador that’s recently begun international peace talks with the North Korean government. However, when things take a turn for the worse, the covert team begins to wonder if there’s more to the story than a simple political kidnapping. Could this be the beginnings of a global conflict no one’s prepared to fight?
Strike Back is a narratively ridiculous show that often makes more leaps than the sixth season of24. To say it offers “good” narrative would false. But, it is not false to say Strike Back is one of the best shows on television. But how? How can a program hold that moniker without a good narrative? It’s because, ultimately, Strike Back’s primary goal isn’t to tell a story, it’s to show-off the always entertaining relationship of its characters, particularly that of Michael Stonebridge and Damien Scott.
While the fifth season of the best action/adventure series on the small screen is just as silly as previous efforts, what it’s doing to evolve the core relationship on which it’s based can’t go unnoticed. So, because of that, the show feels like it’s growing and expanding in depth despite containing a rather surface level story. In the first two episodes of the season, we see our heroes debating about their lives beyond Section 20, and what it could mean for their respective loved ones. While standard “last hurrah” fair, it’s something that feels fresh coming from a show that’s kept us on the edge of our seats for as long as Strike Back has.
As with all television series, Strike Back’s character work trumps its story, and as long as that character work remains coherent and compelling, it really doesn’t matter who kidnapped the ambassador’s daughter in order to start an international incident. All that matters is that Stonebrige and Scott find a way through the mission to become closer friends and partners. So far, there’s no reason to think why the final season of the show isn’t going to deliver on that promise. Fans love the action and suspense, but they love these characters more, and while it’s going to hurt to see them go, it’s going to be great to see where they end up come the final frame of the series finale.