After last week's surprising, but now - in retrospect - inevitable death of Maj. Dalton, Strike Back takes the requisite amount of time to have its characters reflect upon her demise, as they would any other colleague, but with one surprising difference.
Always the outlier in terms of perspective on most situations the team finds itself in, Sgt. Damien Scott refuses to mourn Dalton in the same fashion as Stonebridge, Richmond and newcomer Martinez see fit to do. Scott rails against not only Dalton's character, but also blames her penchant for reckless, obsessive, and self-destructive behavior for the reason she wound up staring down the barrel of a McKenna's rain soaked gun.
It's clear he was never a fan of Dalton, or her methods – which, as Scott sees it, frequently placed his life and the lives of others in unnecessarily precarious positions. In a way, Scott's pointing out his teammates' perfunctory response to the death of someone they knew as somewhat false.
In Scott's increasingly differing outlook, he's seemingly more convinced how part of the job is to not plan too far ahead, and that self-preservation isn't really something to think about until you're looking death in the eye. And by that time it's far too late. Sure, being a member of Section 20 is an incredibly dangerous job, but accepting risk and heedlessly courting it are not one in the same.
And surprisingly, Scott's uncertainty about his future in the game has had an impact on Stonebridge as well. On one hand, perhaps that's a testament to the bond these two have formed while working side-by-side, but then again, maybe it has to do with Stonebridge's physical deterioration, which is probably linked to his exposure to a chemical weapon earlier in the season. Super solldier that he is, Stonebridge is noticeably shaken when he fails to take out a truck containing weapons stolen by McKenna's men, and doesn't even attempt an incredibly risky shot when McKenna takes Locke hostage during a daring escape at an airport in Hungary.
It's one thing for Strike Back to show Scott's uncertainty – he's always been a bit flighty – but now it's coming from a place of wistfulness and a desire to reconnect with people from his past, rather than one of nihilism or prurient self-interest, which is a real change for the character. By the same token, it's interesting to see Stonebridge on the precipice of a turning point in his life as well. Facing the equally frightening prospects of failing health and a burgeoning relationship with Martinez, his normally stoic exterior has begun to reveal something altogether human and possibly delicate residing underneath.
If anything, this establishes how the series understands that continually putting its characters in incredibly dangerous positions against overwhelming odds can begin to feel as routine as throwing back a shot for the recently departed. As much as the show's DNA requires it operate like it's on rails, or even mimic playing a video game, it also puts in considerable effort to demonstrate that these characters aren't simply along for the ride and they certainly don't have the option of hitting a reset button. Sometimes, that reminder makes all the difference in the world.
Strike Back continues next Friday @10pm on Cinemax. Check out a preview below: