The Strike Title Sequence

When a new Strike series drops, the wait for the opening credits to be over and the mystery, action and above all the relationship growth to begin is torture. But the intro itself is a thing of beauty, with 26 sequences, 60-plus images, shifting ink-stamp lettering and Beth Rowley’s haunting, bluesy vocals. Let’s dig in!

Some elements are common to all four series, from The Cuckoo’s Calling to Lethal White. The palette is muted: Charcoal greys, browns and blacks predominate with occasional primary colours catching the eye — in particular, the ochre lettering and other yellows highlighted when they occur in street furniture, clothing and signage. 

With the first dramatic chord, fragments of a countdown leader and flickering long-line defects give a nod and a wink to detectives of an earlier cinematic age, as does the flash from a struck match and smoke from a fired gun. And there are counterfeit celluloid sparkles, lines, jerks and blurring throughout. The letters S, T, R, I, K and E appear in all orientations and at random, interleaved with still images and short clips of Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott. Images are often displayed within rectangular window panes — sometimes a single image is fragmented over several of these panes, and sometimes each pane holds a different image and an array is formed. 

In the repeated elements, Robin and Strike walk London streets, inhabit the agency’s offices and are caught in tense, thoughtful moments. Often, they face away from each other, but the images drift, merge and overlap. From the moment Strike emerges into Denmark Street dabbing blood from his face to his final walk away from camera behind the title, there is a seething, shifting, unsettling motion, suggestive of turbulence caused by old troubles surfacing, allegiances dislocating and new partnerships forming.

For each of the four series brought to the screen so far, the intro has incorporated motifs specific to the story at four points:

The Triptych — To the right of a large image of Strike, three smaller window panes drift left, each containing a separate, series-specific element.

The Collage — A group of five or six window panes form a single image or compound image, supplemented with other series-specific images in separate window panes on the left and/or right.

The Teacup — One of a set of three window panes cover the whole screen, showing a spoon, teacup and green glass ashtray; in the teacup, a series-specific image floats or is reflected.

The Circle — Four images of quadrants cut from round objects, some generic and some series-specific, are arranged to approximate a circle. 

These are the ones I have noticed over many viewings — are there more?

The Cuckoo’s Calling

The Triptych: A glass vase with a card marked “6”, Evan Duffield in a wolf’s head mask, a figure in a black hoodie on a snowy street.

The Collage: A combination of two images of Lula Landry, mixing her angel-wing photo shoot with the picture of her corpse as it was found, alongside a film of her walking from her car to her front door through the snow.

The Teacup: An image of Lula Landry’s corpse.

The Circle: A red cap with army insignia, a Chubb lock, a pint of beer and the circular mark left on Lula Landry’s coffee table (with a stray rose petal).

The Silkworm

The Triptych: Dodo Quine’s doodles on a page from the faked Bombyx Mori, a hooded and masked figure — possibly Succuba — a dagger raised by a sleeved and gloved arm.

The Collage: Four images showing Owen Quine prone and surrounded by sinister figures, alongside images of a cluster of candles and a mob carrying flaming torches.

The Teacup: The same image of Owen Quine being restrained.

Career of Evil

The Triptych: Angel standing by an open door looking down at her hands, Kelsey Platt looking fearfully toward the camera, Stephanie folding her arms across her chest.

The Collage: Leda Strike lifeless on a mattress alongside her leaning down to whisper to a young Cormoran backstage at a gig.

The Teacup: The same image of Leda Strike’s corpse.

Lethal White (episodes 1 and 2)

The Triptych: A chalk horse on a hillside, a rustic cross poking out of rough ground and lit from behind, Venetia Hall’s Houses of Parliament ID badge.

The Collage: Raphael as a young boy standing in dark woodland dressed in yellow, alongside Robin Ellacott’s muddy hand lifting a tattered piece of cloth from a shallow grave.

The Teacup: Rhiannon Winn’s back exposed and marked “WHORE”.

The Circle: A red cap with army insignia, a fencing logo, a pint of beer and a glass of whisky.

Lethal White (episodes 3 and 4)

The Triptych: An aerial view of the Greek portico of the Chiswell’s country home, Robin undercover as Bobbi Cunliffe, a list on Jasper Chiswell’s headed notepaper reading, “Blanc de blancs / Suzuki / Bill”.

The Collage: Jasper Chiswell’s body in a leather armchair alongside a goodbye letter from Kinvara Chiswell.

Although not obviously case-specific, the final sequence as the intro draws to a close is subtly different in each of the series 1-4, and changes halfway through Lethal White. Strike’s striding figure is identical, but the street he is walking down changes. The window pane containing the street fights with other, overlapping images, making identification a challenge, but the locations (all in London) appear to be:

The Cuckoo’s Calling — Great Windmill Street

The Silkworm — Berwick Street (looking north)

Career of Evil — York Place (formerly Of Alley)

Lethal White (episodes 1 and 2) — Berwick Street (looking south)

Lethal White (episodes 3 and 4) — Denmark Street

What changes might be expected for the forthcoming series, Troubled Blood? Perhaps look out for stills of astrological symbols, donkey balloons, red telephone boxes, and moving images of Margot Bamborough and Little Italy gangsters in The Triptych, The Collage, The Teacup and The Circle. Also hope to see Strike’s coat flapping in a new Soho location at the end.


Text by 105NorthTower, London knowledge by MoNoMama