|Sullivan Stapleton and Phillip Winchester
What is it about hot, hot, super hot men running around in cargo pants, tact vests and thigh holsters that just gets my knees a-knocking? Or squirming with an uncontrollable aching need for… Ahem…. Did I mention that they were hot? Good lord, I’ve found my Mecca. Cinemax’s Strike Back has all of this girl’s favorite things: Special Ops super heroes, badass women in charge, terrorist ass-kicking, justifiable guns and violence and a shiny new bromance. Oh yeah, and it has some steamy, hair-straightening, toe-curling sex, IN EVERY EPISODE, but we’ll talk about that in a minute.
British SAS soldier, Sergeant Michael Stonebridge works for a highly secret, off books division of British Secret Intelligence called Section 20. The group is an anti-terrorism task force charged with high risk, priority missions around the globe. Stonebridge is the consummate soldier, the one who follows orders, always does what is right and never wavers from the mission. His clean cut good looks fit the golden boy, Officer and a Gentleman trope. He’s poised and polished under fire and takes the more respectful route when it comes to discussions with management. He’s not totally perfect. He cheated on his wife with a superior officer. And then she was blown up. Eeeps.
Stonebridge is sent to find and recruit…
Damien Scott, disgraced US Delta Force Operator, dishonorably discharged during a tour in Iraq. Of course he was set up to cover up a WMD plot, because he would never traffic the two kilos of heroin planted in his footlocker. He does have some integrity. There are lines that every good man at heart won’t cross. Yet, he IS the quintessential badboy. Where Stonebridge is sublime perfection, Scott is the grizzled, disillusioned badass who fights hard and plays even harder. He leaves a string of bullets, bodies and women in his wake and gives authority the finger every chance he can get. He doesn’t deny his personal demons but he struggles with atonement couched in revenge to find those who set him up.
Together they are a deadly force of precision fighting.
So what makes these two my newest favorite bromance? Aside from the fact I can’t decide which one I’d chose if we could stay in bed for a week. Would I really even have to chose? Who says I can’t have both, right? Sigh.
In the beginning, they hate each other. Scott is rude and arrogant and bucks authority like it’s in his DNA. Stonebridge is the play-by-the-rules, respect-your-elders kind of guy and Scott’s jagged edges grate on his last nerve. They fight and argue and call each other ‘asshole’ and ‘prick’. It’s the beginning to a beautiful symbiotic bickering foundation of all fine bromances. They question each other’s motives, second guess one another and generally dislike each other until they begin to save each other’s lives. It becomes a bro-hood forged in blood––theirs and those they kill in the name of freedom.
Over the course of the first Cinemax season, Strike Back:Project Dawn, they develop a deep and trusting friendship. Shared events of tragedy often does that to people, especially hardened soldiers. Now that they have a season under their belt, in season 2 Strike Back: Vengeance, they’ve switched roles in a way. It is Scott who’s the stable one and Stonebridge who is living life on the cutting edge of sanity and redemption. They still bicker, but now they squabble like brothers, nitpicking and teasing while they watch each other’s backs. I look forward to seeing how they play up this dynamic in season 3. Both men having purged their ghosts. Maybe Stonebridge will finally get a chance to get his groove on with a woman who actually gets to live. (He’s a bit of a black widow, poor bastard).
Which brings me to the sex. Oh my, get me a cigarette. They don’t call Cinemax ‘Skinamax’ for no reason. This is soft core porn at its damn finest. I think in the twenty hour-long episodes that I’ve watched (and studied like I’m doing a dissertation) I’ve seen Scott’s bare ass more than I’ve seen my own husband’s. Not that I’m complaining because damn, it’s fine. He’s got just the right amount of dirty, scruffy sex appeal where he can slip any minute into that guy who looks really hot, but you know he’s got smelly balls so you wouldn’t touch him with a ten-foot pole, let alone his own. But he’s got that cute, cute military boy haircut that sticks up like he just raked his hand through it when he rolled out of bed. And let me tell you, he usually doesn’t even use a bed. The boy’s got some stamina., Walls, tables, barns, interrogation room chairs, balconies. Hot damn the man will fuck anywhere, anytime, with pretty much any woman who’s breathing and has a hole. When I say he’s had sex in every episode, I’m not lying. He’s had sex in EVERY EPISODE but the last four of season 2, and I think that is pretty telling because it means he’s come to a decision about himself and his role within Section 20. He feels like he belongs again and he’s done racing against the world with his hair on fire. Not bad for a guy with a death wish.
One thing that I have to say that totally cracks me up is that Stonebridge, the Brit, is played by an American, Philip Winchester (his name even sounds like he should be British) and Scott, the American, is played by an Aussie, Sullivan Stapleton. Their accents are reversed . Every once in a while Sully’s will slip when he gets hyper emotional, but Philip’s, never. It sounds dead on with the rest of the brits on the show. I love it. It’s so ironic. Great testament to the quality of acting going on in this well-written, intelligent action fest.
Yes, it’s violent, bloody, unapologetically testosterone bent. And I love it. I want more. One day, I will have to do a post on the women of Strike Back because they are badass, brass-ovary women to the core. They are a perfect fit with the boys. They are not just decoration they are true soldiers. Each one is every bit as ruthless as her counterpart. It’s refreshing and believable. Strike Back got it right.
Cannot wait until Season 3.
If I’m every kidnapped by a raving group of terrorists, call in these guys. If I die, at least I’ll die with a fantasy in my head.
Photos courtesy of Cinemax, Sky 1 and TV Guide.