Strike Back: Project Dawn, Episodes 1 and 2

I purchased the “first season” of Strike Back a couple of weeks ago as part of a deal with the fourth season of Game of Thrones. To my surprise, when I googled the show (about five minutes ago) to see if the episodes had long titles or anything (thank goodness they don’t), what is counted as the first series in the UK is a six episode series based on Chris Ryan’s novel of the same name. So it is now less surprising that Project Dawn started with such confidence and went straight into the story of a terrorist named Latif who is responsible for killing John Porter, a character in the first series, early on in the season premiere. Regardless, the confidence of the first two episodes of Strike Back have me absolutely hooked, and I took a break from writing this post to watch the third episode, and also meet a friend for coffee. As soon as I’m done with this one, I’ll probably go and watch Episode 4.

At the beginning of Episode 1, John Porter has been captured by Sharif’s men, and his military group, the secret Section 20, have failed to save him. Sergeant Michael Winchester has been assigned to find Porter’s old partner, US soldier Damien Scott to help try and find Latif. In his final message to camera, Porter sends Scott a secret message to let him in on Latif’s plans. There’s the premise for the show and the episode, and that’s all I’m going to tell you. I’m not a particular fan of military shows, but there’s a spy element to this, and I love what I’ve seen of Alias and the first season of Homeland, so I was willing to give it a try. The first two episodes are two halves of a whole, which is how I suspect most of the stories in this series are structured now that I’ve seen Episode 3. Section 20 only partially succeed in their mission, because they only have two pieces of intelligence from Porter’s final message that don’t tell them very much.

Having one story take place over two episodes also gives time to write more complex plots than would exist in an episode of 24, and the procedural storytelling complements the serialisation of the show; each mission may be a different ‘case of the week’, but each of these missions is designed to reach the goal of catching Latif and dismantling his network. These longer storylines also made it that I didn’t predict the twist at the end of the second episode – I knew something was off about the end of the hostage crisis, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. As someone who watches a lot of television, I love to be surprised, and I love it even more when I’m completely wrong about where a particular story element is going. At this stage I don’t really know much about the characters, but I can imagine they’ll be fleshed out enough so that the show can remain fun. There’s a nice biting antagonism to Winchester and Scott’s partnership, even though they trust each other with their lives after what happened in Delhi. Right now this show is fun, and that’s all I want. Now I’m going to watch Episode 4 to see where that cliffhanger went.

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