Previously on The Strain, “Do or Die”
If you told me that The Walking Dead and The Strain would air a new episode on the same night and that The Strain would be the better hour of television, I’d have told you that acknowledging you have a problem is the first step and then asked your drug of choice. I mean, The Walking Dead had a man with a pet tiger. A.pet.tiger.
But The Walking Dead didn’t have a nation’s unparalleled disdain for New Zack, and if you love to hate that little bastard, then “The Fall” thrilled your hate-filled heart. But that wasn’t even the best part! For an episode this good, we need to do a scene-by-scene recap. Here we go.
Palmer meets with Abraham to deliver the news that Eichorst is incapacitated and that he has the Master’s nuclear bomb in his safe. When Palmer bragged last week that he was the only one who knew the location of the bomb, I figured it was someplace other than the first place the Master would look, but okay. They devise a plan to ambush the Master at Palmer’s penthouse when he comes to retrieve the bomb. You can tell Palmer is so pleased with himself! Meanwhile, Eichorst is rescued by two strigoi soldiers.
New Zach is playing catch with his Feeler when a nice man asks if he needs help getting out of the city. This is officially more love and care than either of New Zach’s parents have ever shown him, and how does he repay this man’s kindness? He lets his Feeler kill him, because New Zach is the worst.
Eph wants back in the gang, but Fet is still being petty. Fed up with everyone’s shit, Abraham says they all have to play nice or they can all GTFO. Their plan to take down the Master is as follows: Dutch will set up the Microwave Ultra-Neuro Communication Halting Equipment Rays, or MUNCHERs for short, in a security office below Palmer’s penthouse. Fet and Quinlan will stay out of sight with the box while Eph and Abraham meet with Palmer and wait for the Master’s arrival and they’ll ambush him.
Only thing is, the Master, in the body of a soldier strigoi, ambushes Palmer and his men in their parking garage first. Goodbye, Black Manservant #2! We hardly knew ye. The Master finally gives Palmer the eternal life he’s been wanting, and takes over his body using a clump of dirt and stomach full of ramen vomit.
Listen. You thought Jonathan Hyde couldn’t get any more dramatic and entertaining than when he’s having a Petty Off with Richard Sammell? Wrong. Palmer as The Master is so over-the-top in all the best ways. I had assumed the Master would eventually take over New Zach’s body, and that he was just waiting for the kid to bulk up and get some facial hair first. Nope. This is even better. So much better.
New Zach thinks Kelly is angry because he allowed an innocent man to die. She would be if she were a regular human mom, but she’s a vampire, you asshole! She’s proud. He asks about being turned, but Kelly says she can’t because the Master has other plans for him. New Zach then remembers he has a father, but Kelly says she can’t turn him because Eph is following his own path… as always. Stinging ex-wife vampiric shade.
As the team unloads their equipment, Fet makes it clear (again) that he hates Eph. They really should rename this show to The Petty. Then he slut-shames Dutch for sleeping with Eph for good measure. It’s like Fet really wants to be the worst in this episode, but there’s no way New Zach is going to let him run away with that title. Oh, no.
Eichorst is deposited in Palmer’s penthouse and learns that The Master is in Palmer’s body. You might think it’s a bad idea to question the actions of an ancient vampire who really likes Nazis, even if you yourself are a Nazi, but you’d be underestimating Eichorst’s deep-seated hatred for Palmer so he immediately asks The Master, “WHY HIM?”
With The Master now in possession of the nuke, his victory is all but assured and Eichorst is sad he won’t be there to see it. But Eichorst is The Master’s favorite so he drops a few worms in his bullet holes and Eichorst is almost as good as new. Almost.
First he needs to go downstairs to Kelly to get his hair and makeup done. While she works, he pretends the Master’s new form was a brilliant idea and that he’s not screaming internally. He arms the bomb, dons his pimp hat, and then leaves to set the bomb in the Statue of Liberty. He gives the detonator to Kelly with New Zach in the room because that’s a good idea.
Out in his First Day of School clothes, Eichorst meets with Sanjay on the ferry out to the island and tells him he’s about to be very important in their organization. Sanjay accepts this news with the enthusiasm of a man who knows he’s made some shitty life decisions.
At Palmer’s, everyone gets in formation, but you don’t get to be a centuries-old vampire by just walking up into situations all willy-nilly, so Quinlan decides to sniff around the garage while everyone heads inside. It doesn’t take him long to find the bodies and piece it all together.
In the elevator, Fet gets in one last bit of slut-shaming followed by a half-ass apology to Dutch. Inside the penthouse, Master-Palmer does a really good job of pretending to be human. It helps that he can turn off the red eyes, use Palmer’s voice, and not be all gross and saggy. But when he mentions Zach, and Eph knows Palmer has never met his son, the jig is up.
They start to fight and Master-Palmer asks, “What are you going to do? Chop my head off again?” He petty and he got jokes!
Dutch struggles to get the jammer to work while Fet rushes in with the box. Quinlan’s on his way, but he has to take care of some badass business first.
In a massive display of vampire old-man strength, Master-Palmer slams Fet, Abraham, and Eph around, cuts Eph with his own sword, and tries to make a run for it, but…
Quinlan beats dat ass and into the box Master-Palmer goes. Dutch is worried about Eph’s wound, but Abraham is like, “Nah. We gotta get this fucker under water.” Eph assures them he can take care of himself so they leave.
On his way back into the city, Eichorst panics when he can’t hear the Master anymore. Same goes for Kelly at Stoneheart HQ. Free from his control, it takes about 3.2 seconds for her to try and eat her son. She gets her shit under control when he suggests they go to the penthouse so she can see the Master for herself. He grabs the detonator before they leave and you just know this shit wasn’t headed anywhere good.
As Eph bandages his wound he also drinks some of Palmer’s dark liquor cause Eph gonna Eph. When New Zach and Kelly arrive, Kelly lunges at Eph immediately. New Zach is yelling for mommy and daddy to stop fighting, but to no avail. Kelly beating that ass for the old and the new. Eph stabs Kelly right under the chin and New Zach loses.his.damn.mind…. even though she was JUST about to heat him two minutes ago.
Eph asks if New Zach is okay, because he doesn’t know that the little shit wasn’t being held against his will. He figures it out quickly when New Zach brandishes the detonator. The little fucker yells, “I hate you!” and then presses the button because he’s the absolute worst child character in the history of ever and I say that in universe in which Joffrey Baratheon exists.
At the river, the rest of the team see the explosion and duck for cover… all except Quinlan who is mesmerized by the incoming blast. Eichorst and Sanjay’s car goes flying. Eph does too as the windows in the penthouse explode. Once the dust settles, the team at the river discover Master-Palmer is no longer in the box.
At the penthouse, Eph goes looking for New Zach, who dipped out. Eichorst leaves Sanjay wounded in their car and finds New Zach outside the building. When he learns what happened, Eichorst gives his condolences and congratulates him on a job well done. They take off into the smoke.
Fet, Dutch, Abraham, and Quinlan head underground to escape the fallout, as Eph stumbles into the street (strigois incoming thanks to the smoke cover from the sun) screaming for New Zach.
Look. I’m no expert because my children aren’t terrible, but I think you’re absolved of all parental responsibility when you discover your kid’s a damn psychopath.
Here’s what I know for sure, though:
On a serious note, this season has been a vast improvement over season two. The ten-episode run really served it well. There was a lot less of feeling like characters were just killing time for no reason. Dutch became infinitely more likable, and her romance with Eph felt natural. Their sexual chemistry was lacking once they consummated their relationship, but that doesn’t make them any less suitable on paper, and their moments trying to figure out the science to stop the Master showed what a great fit they are.
I thought New Zach was going to be the Master’s host, and perhaps he was meant to be since all season – and in the episode – Eichorst and Kelly kept saying the Master had important plans for him. He could still be, of course, since we have one final season left, and Master-Palmer’s body may have been severely damaged in the explosion. My prediction was wrong, but I don’t care because we get more Jonathan Hyde next season and I can’t wait.
Gus wasn’t in the finale, but he wasn’t missed because it felt like the show never really knew what to do with him, even though most fans online thought he should have been with our main group by now, kicking ass. Since the last we saw of him he was at a checkpoint heading out of New York, it’s possible we’ll never see him again as going back into a city after a nuclear explosion makes no sense.
I suspect next season we’ll get more insight into what the government outside of New York is doing to fight the strigoi, as well as some federal involvement now that a major U.S. city was rocked by two nuclear explosions.
Leave your thoughts on the finale below or on our Facebook post for this review, and we’ll read them on tonight’s podcast!
The Strain S3E10 = 9/10