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'Strike Back' moment of the week: Julia Richmond is the queen 'B'

Season 4 | Episode 4 | “Episode 34” | Aired Aug 21, 2015

Queen “B” as in “badass,” that is. Julia Richmond is as important a part of Strike Back as the boys, so there’s only one proper choice for this week’s Moment of the Week, and that’s to salute Sergeant Richmond and her portrayer, Michelle Lukes, for four seasons of loyal service.

As Section 20 makes their attempt to stop the North Koreans from acquiring vanadium for their missile program, a tough call by Kim Martinez leads to Richmond being captured by Li-Na. What follows is the world’s tensest car ride. Li-Na wants Richmond to give up the locations of her colleagues; Richmond will do no such thing. The two women have an eerily calm and reasoned dialogue before their journey together ends the only way it possibly can—with Richmond shot dead, her body left on the road for her colleague and boyfriend, Damien Scott, to find.

That sound you heard was me throwing something and shattering a lamp in my living room.

After I cleaned up the broken glass, I realized that in retrospect, we should have seen this coming. Every season of Strike Back has killed off at least one major character, and that character is usually the supporting staff member who gets kidnapped by the enemy and dies somewhere in the vicinity of his or her colleagues. There was Kate Marshall (season one), abducted by Daniel Connelly and strapped to a bomb that blew up in front of Michael Stonebridge and Scott. Then Oliver Sinclair (season two), wrongfully incarcerated and shot by the corrupt local authorities while the rest of the team were locked up a few feet away. After that, it was Liam Baxter (season three), executed by Leo Kamali after being exposed during an undercover operation with Rachel Dalton. This is how Strike Back plays the game.

But Richmond was different. She was the only character other than Stonebridge and Scott to have appeared in all four seasons. There’s something really disappointing about the knowledge that not one other member of the team was carried through. In that sense, Richmond gave Strike Back a thread of continuity—someone else who had seen everything that Stonebridge and Scott had, who knew exactly what they’d been through. She was also another familiar face for the fans to look forward to each Friday.

You can also make the case that she was Strike Back‘s most prominent female character. Yes, she was outranked by Kate, Eleanor Grant, and Dalton, but none of their roles came to have quite the impact on the show that Richmond did. Part of that comes with her surviving as long as she did—yet Richmond got some great lines and had a certain rapport with Stonebridge and Scott. It wasn’t just her “will they, won’t they, thank God they finally did” tension with Scott; she truly meshed with them. Credit on that count has to go to Lukes, who never let Richmond be just the girl sitting behind the computer. She created this wonderfully strong, smart, funny, beautiful woman whom we all fell for, just like Scott did.

Yet if she had to go, she went out beautifully. Putting Lukes and Michelle Yeoh in a scene together was watching two great actresses at work, creating a heartbreaking tension. They just let the moment play out naturally, conveying so much in a very simple and understated way. There was a certain beauty in the idea that in the middle of a huge, loud action sequence, the biggest turning point came in a quiet exchange between their two characters.

The script by James Dormer served them well, too; it showed them not as enemy combatants, but as people on opposing sides of a line neither was willing to cross. Most important, it proved that toughness on Strike Back isn’t just behind a gun. For all the cool action-hero stuff that Section 20 does, these soldiers are also mentally and emotionally strong. Even though Richmond’s heart was clearly breaking at the knowledge of what would happen to her and what it would mean for her loved ones, she still had the courage to sacrifice her life to protect Scott, Stonebridge, Locke, and Martinez.

Her demise is really the moment that cements the fact that this is the end of Strike Back. Yes, the show always kills people, but this time it killed the last original supporting cast member standing. It killed someone who was crucially important to Scott as a character, and beloved by the fans. It stuck a knife in our hearts and drove it in deep. If there was ever a moment that said, “There is no going back,” this was definitely it.

Julia Richmond was a fantastic character, and these final six episodes of Strike Back won’t be the same without her. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to see if I can bribe the Blindspot writers into finding a role for Michelle Lukes.

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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