The series was commissioned by Head of Drama of Sky, Elaine Pyke. Chris Ryan, former soldier with the Special Air Service and author on the book on which the series is based, is the series consultant and script advisor. It was filmed on location in South Africa. It was filmed using 35mm camera.
Overall, the reviews of the series were generally mixed. On review on the first two episodes, Jane Simon of Mirror.co.uk has said that between the cast, "there's enough shock and awe to make you very glad they're showing this in a double bill." Gerard Gilbert of The Arts Desk dubbed Strike Back as "thin and lightweight next to [Armitage's other gig] Spooks", and although "not unexciting", Gilbert did not find the series interesting. Andrea Mullaney of The Scotsman was positive about the casting, and the changes in storyline from the original novel, though the series was aimed "squarely at the blokey viewer who'd rather watch paint dry than a costume drama."
Sam Wollaston from The Guardian enjoyed the first episodes, but called it a "pathetic male fantasy." Tom Sutcliffe of The Independant stated the series may be enjoyed by those who like explosions and Spooks-like operations.
The episode begins on the eve of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, where a British Army Special Forces unit take part in an operation to release a hostage. During the operation, John Porter (Richard Armitage) confronts a boy wearing a suicide vest, which he disarms. After the hostage is found, two soldiers are killed, one is left in a vegetative state, and Porter and his best friend Hugh Collinson (Andrew Lincoln) are injured. After the operation, Porter resign, but has difficulty getting another profession, eventually landing himself the role of a security guard, while Collinson becomes a high position member in Section 20 of MI6. Seven years later, British Journalist Katie Dartmouth (Orla Brady) is kidnapped outside Basra by the "Sword of Islam"; the kidnappers demand the release of one of their comrades from Belmarsh. Upon realising one of the kidnappers is the same boy as the one Porter disarmed, nicknamed "scarface", Collinson decides to "reactivate" Porter. By the time he arrives in Basra, a separate unit is tasked with retrieving Dartmouth after tracking the live feed. Unfortunately, the building is rigged with explosives and detonates, killing the unit. In the end, Porter goes on his own to the same apartment complex during the same operation seven years previous.
Porter finds a member of the "Sword of Islam", and after some persuasion, the member leads him to where Dartmouth is being held. There, Porter allows himself to be captured. The group find a tracking device on one of his teeth and remove it, and then move both hostages to another location. Sometime after arriving, the kidnappers decide to execute Dartmond a day sooner. By then, Porter works out a way to break himself free from his restraints and kills most of the kidnappers. "Scarface", later revealed to be As'ad, kills the leader, and wishes to join them, citing that he knew who killed the soldiers seven years ago. The trio escape, but are pursued by re-enforcements. When the extraction team arrive, Collinson, who believed As'ad killed the soldiers, refuses him to join; As'ad is likely killed, upon being chased by "Sword of Islam" soldiers. In the end, Porter questions Dartmouth about what As'ad said about who killed the soldiers. Dartmouth recalls that it was a British soldier who killed them; It is heavily implied that it was Collinson who was responsible.
The episode begins on the eve of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, where a British Army Special Forces unit take part in an operation to release a hostage. During the operation, John Porter
(Richard Armitage) confronts a boy wearing a suicide vest,...