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'Strike Back' moment of the week: Stonebridge gets wired

Season 4 | Episode 3 | “Episode 33” | Aired Aug 14, 2015

We are never going to look at lamps the same way again. Not after this week’s episode of Strike Back, in which Michael Stonebridge ripped the wires out of one and used them to torture a Yakuza lieutenant, in the very definition of “cruel and unusual punishment.” Stonebridge, believing that the Yakuza has killed his partner and BFF, Damien Scott, takes the live wires and shoves them repeatedly into Akiyama’s mouth. It’s supposedly an effort to get the man to give up the location of North Korean superspy Li-Na, but it’s also the normally straight-laced Stonebridge taking out his rage on an available target.

Make no mistake about it, this scene is tough to watch, what with all the screaming and the spitting blood—but the violence isn’t why it’s so disturbing to watch. Strike Back has certainly shown more with less impact. There’s a brutal simplicity to this part, because it’s so deliberate and because it’s as much a character moment as it is an action sequence. Stonebridge (once again perfectly played by Philip Winchester) is basically coming unglued in the space of two minutes. As far as he knows, he’s had two friends die on him in a matter of hours, and someone has to pay for it.

This is remarkable because Stonebridge so rarely comes undone. Fans know that one of his defining traits is that he doesn’t show a lot of emotion, unless it comes out in explosive ways—like when he went off the rails trying to avenge the murder of his wife, Kerry, at the hands of his old friend Jake Hanson back in Cinemax season two. The interrogation scene is another one of those destructive moments.

In this exclusive clip, we see how it all got started.

Yes, Stonebridge needs to get information, but more than that, you can see that he wants to make this guy suffer. He wants to cause physical pain to make up for the emotional pain he’s feeling at losing two more people close to him. He’s out of control. It’s startling, oddly thrilling, and you absolutely can’t blame him. What this moment reveals about Stonebridge, and what Winchester is able to show in it, is just as powerful as the torture.

By the way, what is it with putting Winchester through the wringer this season? First he’s lurking in the water like heavily armed Jaws (see photo), then he has to fight Michael Bisping, then he’s running down bad guys and torturing people with lamps. Later in the episode, he gets into another brawl with the would-be Yakuza boss. There’s no doubt that he got his workout in this season.

Runner-Up Moment of the Week: Scott family bonding

Viewers know that Damien isn’t dead; he spends the episode on the run, trying to keep himself and his teenage son Finn (a well-cast Christian Antidormi, one of two Spartacus alums to make an appearance) away from another group of Yakuza. Their trek through the woods allows the two plenty of time to get to know one another, or at least sling a lot of accusations and smart-aleck lines back and forth. Finn, having figured out that his mom was lying when she said Damien was “an IT consultant”—probably the last job he’d ever be caught in—believes his father is a drug dealer. Damien just wants his kid to shut up so they don’t get shot.

When a TV show introduces a main character’s child, especially if that child is a teenager, that’s usually cause to cringe (three words: “Kim Bauer” and “cougar”). But Strike Back works this in pretty well, giving us some action to watch along with the parent-estranged son drama so that it doesn’t drag the story down. What really makes it succeed is the banter between Antidormi and Sullivan Stapleton, because Damien himself is, in many ways, an overgrown child with a lot of toys. He doesn’t just take the kid’s attitude; he dishes some back himself. Watching them wander and bicker their way through the episode, it’s not hard for the audience to buy that these two characters are related, even if this is the first time they’re coming face-to-face.

Plus, it’s nice to see someone on this show have some semblance of family. Stonebridge lost his baby to a miscarriage and then his wife got murdered; Locke’s son was killed by the IRA via a car bomb that also left his wife in a vegetative state; and we didn’t even find out that former boss Rachel Dalton had a daughter until after she died. With all the people who’ve been through this show and how much they constantly get shot at, stabbed, and whatever else comes their way, somebody deserves something to hold on to. Even if we all know that Damien Scott will never have a white picket fence … unless he’s crashing through it.

Strike Back airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on Cinemax.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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