'Strike Back' season finale recap with Amanda Mealing & Philip Winchester


October 23, 2011|By Curt Wagner | RedEye

Spoiler alert: I believe fans on both sides of the Atlantic have now had a chance to see the season finale of "Strike Back," which aired on Cinemax in the U.S. But if you haven't, stop reading.

Amanda Mealing expected strong fan reaction from the death of her character, Col. Eleanor Grant, in the season finale of “Strike Back.”

Her two biggest fans had already seen it—and were “incensed,” she said.

“My sons watched it the other day and they were saying, ‘Mama, why didn’t you wait for Scott to shoot?’” Mealing told me Thursday by phone from New York.

In the knock-out episode, the terrorist Latif (Jimi Mistry) not only escaped from Col. Grant’s Section 20 military unit, but he took her captive in the process. And although part of his plot played out as he hoped, he didn’t count on one thing—Grant’s resolve to take him down no matter what the consequences.

She ended their standoff in bold fashion. Damian Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) had Latif in his sights, but Grant fired his pistol into a bomb she was carrying and killed them both.

“It had to be [that way],” Mealing said. “It was the right thing, We needed that conclusion and it had to be the person that you least expected.

“It was through Grant trying to do the right thing she had done the wrong thing [and unwittingly helped Latif], but in the end she takes him out and does the right thing.”

Before the end came, Grant recorded a message to her soldiers telling them of her involvement in Project Dawn. It was an emotional scene for Mealing to film, and one that co-star Philip Winchester praised.

“She was incredible, wasn’t she?” he said during the same call. “It was this beautiful goodbye by Amanda and by Grant, but it all hit on such a different level for all of us standing there because we knew we weren’t going to see her again.”

Mealing, Winchester and I joked that Grant didn’t get out of the Section 20 headquarters often and when she finally did, she killed herself. Mealing said one of her best days on the job was during Episode 6, when Grant fired from a helicopter while landing to extract Stonebridge. “It really was so much fun; I was ecstatic,” said Mealing, who is about halfway to getting her pilot certification.

Those types of adventurous jobs don’t come along often for women, which is another reason Mealing’s sad to be leaving “Strike Back.”

“I love shooting and flying and fast cars,” she said. “It was really perfect for me.”

Below find more from my conversation with Mealing and Winchester, who also talked about the scene in which Stonebridge had to cut a bomb out of a terrorist’s body.

And, by the way, the finale didn’t really tell us if Stonebridge would return to Section 20, so I asked Winchester if he’d be back in “Strike Back.”

“I hope so,” he said, laughing.

Amanda, are you sad not to be coming back?
Amanda Mealing: I'm hugely, hugely sad not to be coming back because working together for six months and as intensely as we did. We’re all thousands of miles away from home; [the group] becomes your family. It really does become your family, so to not be with the guys next year is heartbreaking…

I liked the fact that she wasn’t the mole. She hasn’t been a double agent. It is just through her desperation to do the right thing and recompense for Project Dawn that actually feeds Latif everything that he needs … My sons watched it the other day and they were saying, “Mama, why didn’t you wait for Scott to shoot?”
Philip Winchester: [Laughs.] Because he would have.
AM: “Well you should have just waited. He was there.”

You should have just ducked.
AM: [Laughs.] I know. I should have ducked. They were incensed, absolutely incensed.
PW: Obviously, Col. Grant is not coming back, but I do think there is a lot of room for possible flashbacks. Amanda and I were talking earlier about the why. This stuff happened and it was kind of a knock-on effect, you know, after Latif had infiltrated us and at the hotel in Delhi—now the why needs to be tackled a little bit. So I think there is a lot of room for conversations that happened in the past, stuff that we didn’t quite see in these 10 episodes, so I hope it’s not the last we see of her.
AM: Or her evil twin.
PW: Some “Mission Impossible” side of it coming out.

You could come back to play a pilot.
AM: Or it could be like “Dallas”: She was just in the shower!
PW: It was all a dream.

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