Dec 2 2013 4:30pm

Finding Love in Action-Adventure: Strike Back’s Michael Stonebridge and Kim Martinez

Michael and Kim in Strike BackStrike Back is an action-adventure show on Cinemax, and the show upped the romantic stakes in the most recent season when it introduced a new female soldier to the team. Instant sparks flew between her and another team member.

Michael Stonebridge, a soldier in a black operations team called Section 20, has been in emotional conflict for a long time. The former Special Boat Service (SBS) sergeant is a loner by nature and took some hard knocks in the show’s last season. Aside from the everyday battles that have him put his own life on the line, both his wife and his ex-mistress were killed in front of him in a short amount of time in separate events. The effect of these devastating deaths on the psyche of this already reserved man caused him to become emotionally remote aside from his interactions with his partner in the field. This was especially true regarding women. The most recent season, subtitled “Shadow Warfare,” introduced a new character to the show, Kim Martinez, a DEA special agent working covertly in the jungles of Colombia.

(Image source: Michael/Kim banter gif by

Kim and Michael first cross paths when she’s recruited to help Section 20 kidnap a terrorist from a drug cartel’s compound. I wouldn’t call it a meet-cute, especially as his partner Damien makes a pass at her initially, but there’s a definite spark between Kim and Michael from the beginning. What made their first meeting so memorable was Michael’s reaction to her. Michael is rather stoic plus focused on the missions, and women showing interest usually have no effect on him. When the audience is first introduced to Michael, his wife and ex-mistress are already in the picture with their established roles in his life. Kim is a new entity and very unlike the other two women in looks and personality. He not only responds to Kim’s interest with visible cues in his body language, he also tells his partner flat out that he “likes her.” From Michael, this behavior is a monumental breakthrough. He might as well have broken out in to a song and dance a la The Sound of Music. The first episode of the season lays the groundwork for a slow-burn dance between them that is both joyous and frustrating to watch. Joyous because their scenes are bristling with UST and frustrating because the pacing is such that it’s not visible in every episode.

The next big moment that got the fandom, or at least the fandom I follow on Tumblr, buzzing was their first kiss. The entire team has relocated to track other terrorists. Michael and Kim are observing a meeting covertly while pretending to be a couple out on a stroll. To protect their cover, Kim kisses Michael, but it goes far beyond a perfunctory kiss to hide their true mission. Michael is visibly flustered and stuttering in response to her comments. As a fan, it was wonderful seeing the usually stoic Michael thrown off his game by Kim’s kiss. He drops strong hints that he is interested, but his history makes taking that next step hard. One step forward soon becomes two steps back. Not too long after the kiss, further developments spotlight Michael’s strong pull towards Kim. Michael’s body language tends to conflict with his words when he’s with Kim, despite the kiss and other signs from him responding positively to Kim. Michael, going through issues other than just dealing with his emotional scars, backs off from things with Kim yet again. After this development, any progress between them is shelved for a bit, but not without Kim giving Michael a look signaling she’s aware it’s not that he’s uninterested and she isn’t frightened off while they deal with other pressing issues.

(Image source: Michael/Kim kissing gif by

What I really love about these two together is how Kim brings Michael out of his emotional exile and makes him smile. From the beginning of the series, Michael has always had a wall that he lets few climb over. His partner Damien is one. In my opinion, Kim is now another person whom Michael has let in. By the last episode of the season and without giving away spoilers, viewers could see through Michael’s words and actions that Kim is on his mind. It’s noticeable also because the directing of the last episode especially highlights his thoughts having some focus on her. As the audience was never shown the beginning of either of his other relationships, I can only speculate on what caused him to withdraw so much emotionally or seek comfort of sorts elsewhere. While I don’t doubt there was love in those relationships, it seemed there waslittle  happiness or joy in either. With Kim, you see things from Michael that have not been shown before. I want to see more of that in the show’s final season next year.

Michael and Kim’s story has all the hallmarks of the slow-burn love story that I’ve not seen in a while, and especially on an action-adventure show. With the show’s nature being one of constant danger, often with consequences, I don’t know if they will get a happily ever after, but I hope so. I’m happy with the character evolution of Michael in this most recent season and the changes I see in him brought about by Kim. The audience deserves to see the build-up of the passionate romance that’s been lurking underneath a full season already. And as Michael’s already lost two loves, I’m hoping he can live and be happy with his third lady love, who is, in my humble opinion, his best match of all.


Miss_D has been reading romance books for over 25 years. A native Californian making her way in the Big Apple, she likes to spend her downtime relaxing in front of the TV, chatting with friends, sitting in Central Park and playing beach volleyball. Miss D can be reached via Twitter @bonobochick.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Michelle Lewis
1. mnlewis
Great summary. I so love SB's Kim and Michael. But I hope the slow burn moves along soon!
Jennifer S
2. Jennifer S
This budding relationship was one of the best things of the season. I liked Kim from her first appearance and was so glad she became part of their group. Hope to see further development of this relationship next season.

Now if Damien can ever settle down. ;-)
Jennifer S
3. Minxie
Oh this is great! You described the characters and the evolution of their relationship perfectly. Nice job :D
Heather Waters
4. HeatherWaters
I haven't watched this show, but I want to now because of these two! They seem awesome.
Jennifer S
5. Donna Alward
Love love love Stonebridge and Martinez! I kept hoping they were going to knock boots before the end of the season. I mean, how often have we seen Damien's butt... LOL. He gets all the action. But I'm a Stonebridge girl all the way.
Jennifer S
6. alfabettezoupe
Even though I don't watch the show and have only really seen the bits you showed me, I think you captured the relationship between these perfectly. They obviously have loads of chemistry and it would be interesting, once the show is over, to see if there's maybe some sort of continuation of their story.
Jennifer S
7. StickyKeys
I've never heard of this show. I'm interested to start watching.
Jennifer S
8. Det. Joss Carter
Magnificent analysis of this couple. I haven't watched this current season, but I'm going to make it a marathon soon! I'm excited now more than ever to watch this season.
Kiersten Hallie Krum
9. Kiersten
I adore Strike Back like damn and wow. That's a great examination of Kim and Michael with which I have to absolutely disagree. The addition of Kim is probably the first character move that show had done that majorly failed.

I disliked Kim from the first moment she arrived. I've always expected Michael to finally give in to Julia, all those small touches they had especially in S2 seemed to be building to that so to shoehorn Kim in for this season merely meant having to wait longer for their union. Now, out of absolutely nowhere, suddenly Julia's another Damien conquest which majorly pisses me off but takes her off the board for Michael.

I always took Michael's inital responses of amusement with Kim more because she so obviously preferred him over Scott for a change and he was entertained to finally see a woman who didn't fall for Damien's man whore charms. To me, Kim was always agressively pursuing a man (a behavior of which I approve BTW) who was only mildly interested in romantic shenanigans with her but finally agreed to give in more out of "why the hell not?" than anything else. A distinct lack of any chemistry between said to me that they're relationship was always more compatriots and friendship.

Compare Kim to Rebecca and she comes up so lacking it's almost funny, which is probably why Rebecca got killed.
10. Miss_D
Kiersten: Interesting to see your comment stating your unhappiness with the storyline direction. I'm not sure how Kim "fails" as a character other than it seems like she's in the way of who you wanted Michael to end up. We can agree to disagree on that but I saw nothing that happened onscreen the way you did but I also didn't start off with hating Kim as soon as she arrived. I have a hard time renconciling your description of events with what I saw play out but then again, I wasn't invested in anything ever happening between Michael & Julia. Seems the powers that be felt that to be the case for Michael too.

Kim is also not Rebecca in that she was never interested in Damian, only Michael, so I'm not sure how there's any type of comparison there to be made.
jackie fushi
11. jax1341
I absolutely love this show and I am so happy it's mentioned here. It seems to me the show wasted the Michael/Kim chemistry - slow burn became no burn to me. I would love to see them end up together but for me it's all about the bromance of Damien and Michael - Don't let it end Cinemax!
jackie fushi
12. jax1341
I absolutely love this show and I am so happy it's mentioned here. It seems to me the show wasted the Michael/Kim chemistry - slow burn became no burn to me. I would love to see them end up together but for me it's all about the bromance of Damien and Michael - Don't let it end Cinemax!
Jennifer S
13. ras
i got no interest in seeing another white male / black female coupling. it's all a bit too contrived for my taste.
Jennifer S
14. StickyKeys
Contrived? A large percentage of interracial couples are black female/white male. Just because it hasn't been on TV doesn't mean it wasn't happening, lol!
Jennifer S
16. blackpanthershay
@ras ..just no

Also could you list all of those white male/black female couplings?
Jennifer S
17. Dershleen
Kiersten- I really disagree about your observations regarding the character of Kim. Especially in regards to saying she isn't comparable to Dalton. Neith is Julia. We haven't seen much of any character development except her being good with computers and a competent soldier within the confines of Section 20. I feel Kim has more character development than Julia.

Also what feelings has Michael ever shown towards Julia at all? None. In season 2 it showed her to be crushing on him and he pretty much ignored it (when I am pretty sure he was semi-aware of how she reacted to him).

I find it curious that folks claim that Kim & Michael are contrived and show no chemistry and for me it's starting to feel like it's a race issue. They have no problem seeing him with Nina or Julia or Dalton or any other woman as long as she's not Kim. And the reasoning for it is pretty weak. Kim is just as good as any of the men on the team and there's no reason for her not to be with Michael. They both like each other and have admitted it. Even Damian has commented on this. In the year 2014 I don't understand why this should even be an issue.
Jennifer S
18. Momartian
I love this write up...I saw everything you saw in these scenes. Michael smiles and is happy/light around Kim, but he is struggling with what happened in his past and it seems to be difficult for him to open his heart again...I really hope they explore this struggle more in the next season, with him ultimately giving into something that could be really amazing for the both of them...
Jennifer S
19. Cultsphere
Kiersten... If there were any doubts you had to whether or not Michael had any interest in Kim's advances, I would suggest you re-examine that kiss between them. He seemed to be enjoying it just as much as she was. Just saying
Post a comment