As I said in my Advance Preview, after last Sunday’s mind-blowing ending, you might be tempted to relax and think the worse is over. Well, trust me when I say that couldn’t be further from the truth, and if I had to guess, I’d say the writers are just getting started. In most cases, major character deaths are reserved for season finales, and in a few rare instances, season premieres. Such was the case in last year’s season 2 finale of The Strain with the death of Dr. Martinez. However, in a shocking turn of events in tonight’s season 3 penultimate episode, we lose 2 main characters with a 3rd one left in peril as New York City is on the verge of falling, and the Master is mere inches away from succeeding in his plan to wipe out humanity and rule the world.
GUS, ANGEL AND FERALDO MAKE A FINAL STAND — BUT WITH DEADLY CONSEQUENCES
There were 2 critical moments in last week’s episode “White Light” that made me immediately think we were going to lose Angel (Joaquin Cosio). First, when Gus (Miguel Gomez) introduces his friend at Palmer’s Freedom Center as his “Guardian Angel,” thus hinting that perhaps Angel may be in a position very soon to save Gus’ life. Then, there’s the scene where Gus makes the heart-wrenching decision to kill his strigoi Mother in order to save Angel’s life. As that scene played out, a sinking feeling came over me that Angel was going to repay the favor in the very near future by saving Gus. What’s more, given the fact that Angel does, in fact, die at the end of book #2 in the trilogy, this all seemed quite plausible. While I really was hoping I was just being paranoid and both Gus and Angel would make it to the show’s final season, unfortunately I ended up being right.
The shit-show all begins back at Feraldo’s (Samantha Mathis) headquarters. After the bloodbath in “The Battle Of Central Park,” the NYPD has continued to lose ground, with it now to the point of appearing quite hopeless. The remaining police officers want to leave and at least try to save themselves and their families, and this is fueled even more when a Captain announces there is a Safe Zone in Saratoga Springs and they are willing to take everyone in. So, when Feraldo asks who is staying, unfortunately a mere 5 agree to remain behind. So, including herself and Kowalski (Paulino Nunes), that’s 7 people against a whole army of strigoi. Hopeless? Yeah, and Feraldo knows it. So, she makes the very difficult decision to abandon post and leave with her remaining men.
That’s the good news, but unfortunately, the bad news is Feraldo made this decision very late in the day, and it would have been much, much better if they had left with more time remaining before nightfall, like the remaining NYPD officers did. Once they arrive at the overpass that leads out of Manhattan, they quickly see that it’s unpassable due to dozens and dozens of cars blocking the entrance. What’s more, all of the cars are empty hinting that their occupants are likely turned, and that means there’s a very good chance that a massive number of strigoi are nearby.That hypothesis is quickly confirmed with strigoi emerging and one by one, picking off the remaining members of Feraldo’s team.
Then, in what appears to be a huge stroke of luck, Gus and Angel arrive at the same overpass. Angel has a plan of trying to make it to the Pacific Coast and the Mexican Riviera, but the first step is to get out of this cursed city. Gus sees the NYPD under fire and wants to keep going, but Angel refuses. We all know what a big heart Angel has, and there is no way he was going to just walk away and let those people die — even if they are police. This will turn out to be a fatal mistake.
So, Gus and Angel offer to help Feraldo, with her team now down to just herself, Kowalski, and 1 other police officer. The plan is abandon their vehicles and just walk across the overpass. If they succeed in doing that, they will be home free since strigoi can’t cross bodies of water. Reasonable plan, but the downside is outside of their cars, they become sitting ducks. Almost immediately huge groups of strigoi emerge from under cars, and our heroes are quickly overpowered. Gus and Angel climb on top of a truck, but that’s still not outside the reach of the strigoi’s stinger, and Angel is quickly infected.
Same with Feraldo and Kowalski. Kowalski is stung in the neck, and in a very ironic turn of events, Feraldo gets a worm in the eye after she shoots the strigoi that attacked Kowalski. That’s it. They know they’re done, and the look they give each other says it all. In the meantime, Angel has accepted his fate and wants Gus to try and save himself.
Go. I’ll cover you — Angel to Gus
Of course, Gus is freaking out because he’s just lost his Mother, and now, he’s about to lose the closest to a Father that he’s ever had. He refuses to leave, and then, out of frustration and also out of love, Angel pushes Gus off the truck. So, now, Gus has no choice but to run. However, unknown to everyone, all the gunfire has ruptured the gas tanks of multiple cars, and even more gunfire quickly ignites the fuel. Gus makes it to the overpass, and when he looks back, he sees Angel one last time — his silver cross raised in the air — right before the flames and explosion consume him, as well as Feraldo and Kowalski. It’s okay — you can cry now. I did. Of all the characters on the show, Angel was the one who was truly innocent and truly good. But, of course, as is often the case, the good ones are usually the first to die.
This sucks. I was so hoping that both Gus and Angel would rejoin the rest of the group for the major showdown that will likely occur in next week’s finale. The funny thing is now that Angel is dead, that just might happen now. After Gus witnesses Angel’s death, he starts to climb the fence that will get him out of Manhattan, but notice how he pauses. We can’t be sure what Gus is thinking, but it makes me wonder whether he’s contemplating why Angel died. Angel gave his life while trying to help other people, and now, Gus is about to bolt and save himself, leaving behind everyone else including his new friends, Fet and Setrakian. Of course, we won’t be sure until next week, but my gut says Gus will turn around and ultimately re-join the rest of the group.
A TEAM DIVIDED BY RAGING TESTOSTERONE
I fully realize that Vasily Fet (Kevin Durand) is a big fan-favorite and I respect that, but I swear I have had just about enough of that mother-f*ckin’ rat catcher. Seriously, tonight’s episode is pretty much it for me. I get that he’s pissed at Eph (Corey Stoll), and perhaps some of the bad feelings are because of Eph betraying the group and going rogue with Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones). However, a bigger part of me says that the bad blood is more likely due to Fet’s suspicion that something is going on between Dr. Goodweather and Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas), thus making his childish behavior all due to a piece of tail (and a skanky piece at that!).
It all starts with Fet showing up at his loft and informing Eph and Dutch that the NYPD is pulling out of the city. Hmmmm, I wonder if that includes Fet’s new f*ck-buddy, Captain Rogers, whom Vasily hasn’t even checked on since the Central Park shit-show, by the way. Plus, to top it off, Quinlan has gone missing (Yikes!!! I can hear all the Q fangirls shrieking now!), and Setrakian (David Bradley) needs him to force the Master into the sarcophagus. Very bad news, but fortunately, Dutch might have an alternate plan. They have tested their new device, and it seems to work quite well. So, they might be able to use it to disorient the Master, perhaps long enough to lure him into the box. Sounds like a plan, but Fet calls it bullshit. All he wants is for Dutch to leave the city with him, make a run for it, “fight to live another day” as he puts it. But, things have changed, and of course, Dutch refuses.
At least I tried. I wish you the best of luck — Fet to Dutch
But, Fet isn’t done. The pissing contest continues at The Olympian Club after Eph and Dutch arrive and share with Setrakian the results of their tests on the new device. They had successfully captured a feeler, and because those particular strigoi have closer ties to the Master, their communication centers are much larger. As a result, the Master’s signal channeled through the feeler’s communication center is large enough to completely incapacitate ordinary strigoi. Very cool. Fet still isn’t completely on-board regarding the device, but finally agrees on one condition — Dr. Goodweather will have no part in it. Umm, excuse me? He helped build the thing!
Then, Fet steps up his childishness to a whole new level, bringing up all of Eph’s failures, and how they got Nora killed. It all culminates to a full-blown fist-fight, with Setrakian looking on and just rolling his eyes like “You’ve got to be f*ckin’ kidding me!” The Professor lets it go on for a few minutes hoping the 2 man-children would stop on their own, but when that doesn’t happen, he finally lets them have it.
Stop it! This is exactly what the Master wants! — Setrakian
He’s right – Quinlan
YES!!!! Our Quinlan is officially back, although looking like he had a pretty rough day. Setrakian appears very relieved, but when Q informs him that the Ancients are dead, that is quickly shattered. Well, there goes their big plan for entombing the Master … or is there another way? The one wildcard in this entire mess is Eldridge Palmer, and even though they may not know it yet, he’s about to drop a Plan B right into their laps.
A BALLSY TRAP FOR THE MASTER COURTESY OF ELDRIDGE PALMER
While Angel and Feraldo’s deaths hurt like hell, of all the arcs in tonight’s episode, the one that, in my opinion, is the most significant revolves around Palmer (Jonathan Hyde). Even though most of us may not trust Palmer and for good reason, he ends up being the episode’s MVP and is more successful with his plans than the entire group combined.
Palmer’s first order of business is to locate the Egyptian cargo, and to do that, he turns to one of the few executives at Stoneheart he can still trust. The man’s name is Bob, and he’s wheelchair-bound like Palmer had been, which could explain why they appear to be so close. Bob informs Palmer that Sanjay Desai (Cas Anvar) told him that he had to take over Eldridge’s affairs due to his failing health, and with Palmer standing right before him, healthy as a horse, Bob sees that was a lie. So, when Palmer says he needs to know the location of the cargo from one of his ships, the Aurora Cutless, Bob says he’ll have the info by the end of the day.
Well, Bob proves to be a very loyal employee, because the next thing you know, Palmer, Mr. Duncan, and his security team are ambushing the building that is supposedly hiding the Egyptian cargo. Of course, Desai is there, and while he is spewing a whole load of BS about how he respects Palmer, Eldridge is able to get a good left hook in. Bet Desai didn’t see that one coming. When they finally open the cargo box, they find slots for 2 briefcases (BTW, why didn’t anyone think to lift up the compartment and see if there’s anything UNDER it? Hmmm…..). One is empty, which, of course, held the tactical nuke that Eichhorst detonated in the Ancients’ Lair last week. One much larger nuke remains and when drilled about it, Desai claims he has no clue what it’s for. Not really sure whether Desai is telling the truth, Palmer takes the nuke and also Desai for good measure.
Before we get to the punchline of all of this, we are treated to some fantastic flashbacks showcasing Palmer and providing a pretty good explanation as to why the billionaire is the way he is today. Contrary to what some may have thought, Palmer wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Instead, he was born the bastard child of the CEO of O’Neill Industries, who never publicly acknowledged Eldridge as his son and who didn’t even send flowers when Palmer’s mother died. A real SOB. Even so, Eldridge visits O’Neill on good faith and offers to come work for him in his Investments Department. He doesn’t think O’Neill’s money is being managed very well, and he simply wants to help. But, O’Neill only responds with a $10,000 check and a very cold wake-up call for Palmer:
Spend it however you like, but let me be clear. This is the last check you’ll be getting from me. It fulfills whatever obligations you may have imagined I have to you — O’Neill
Damn. You can’t help but feel a little sorry for Palmer! This was 1962, and fast forward 30 years, we finally get to see what Palmer did with that check. By this time, O’Neill is in a nursing home after suffering a heart attack, and when Eldridge arrives, you can see the pain in his face when he notices O’Neill’s big family picture — including grandchildren — on the wall. All of those kids, and he couldn’t spare just a little bit of love for him. But, regardless, this is supposed to be Palmer’s moment, the time when he finally gets to stick it to his cruel father. So, Palmer tells him of the fortune he made from that little $10,000 he gave him back in 1962. Then, Eldridge twists the knife further and informs his father that he just took control of O’Neill Industries and that he plans on dismantling the company and firing all the employees. And, now for the kicker — what is left he plans on calling Stoneheart, for the cold heart of his father who wouldn’t show any love towards Eldridge nor his mother. But, what is O’Neill’s response? He **laughs** at Palmer. Laughs!!
Look at you! You have wasted your life trying to get even with me. Look at you! Look at what it’s done to you! Withered, sickly, barely able to stand. You look older than I do. I’ll outlive you. I’ll dance on your grave! — O’Neill to Palmer
Now, back to present day, Palmer is facing a similar situation. Palmer feels betrayed by the Master, and just like O’Neill, he is dead set on making sure he doesn’t get away with it. So, with the nuke securely hidden, Palmer now just lays in wait.
Of course, Eichhorst (Richard Sammel) finally shows up, and boy, is he pissed. Not realizing that Palmer has regained his health with the white, Eichhorst foolishly believes he’s still in control, which may prove to be a fatal mistake. Eichhorst goes on about how he’s going to force the location of the nuke out of Palmer by drinking him. The worms will take control, and then, Eichhorst and the Master will have access to Palmer’s memories. Finally, once they have what they need, Eichhorst will be the one to snap Palmer’s neck. All the while, Palmer listens earnestly, not giving even the slightest hint of what he is about to do.
I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time — Eichhorst
So have I — Palmer
So, when Eichhorst is least expecting it, Palmer pulls out a shotgun from under his blanket and lets the waxy SOB have it. And, so does Mr. Duncan who also emerges from the shadows. Riddled with bullets and covered with white blood, Eichhorst manages to crawl to the elevator door and forces it open. However, not realizing the elevator had gone back down, Eichhorst steps forward and down he goes. Boom. Of course, I don’t think the ordeal killed Eichhorst, but I definitely believe it has pushed the Master’s #2 closer to death’s door.
SO, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN AND WHAT ABOUT THE NEW MASTER?
While some may dismiss Palmer’s actions as mere acts of revenge, if you think about it, they are actually much more than that. The very end of the episode made that perfectly clear. Palmer tells Mr. Duncan to bring his car around, and he has to see Setrakian immediately. This says his actions were part of a very well-orchestrated plan to lure the Master out of hiding, which would then fulfill his obligation to Setrakian. That being said, 10 bucks says the new Master will show himself next week at Stoneheart, but this time, Setrakian and the entire group will be waiting for him.
And, what about the new Master? Just like I explained in my review of “The Battle Of Central Park,” I still believe the Master’s new vessel is the lead Navy SEAL, Kroft, and I think we’ll find that out in next week’s finale. However, that doesn’t mean Kroft is anything more than a temporary host, especially since we know Kroft is injured from that big battle in episode 3.03. That being said, who would likely be a more permanent host? After tonight’s episode, my money’s now on Palmer, and here’s why. The Master really has a dilemma on his hands with Palmer hiding that nuke. He can’t kill him because then the nuke’s location will die with him. So, it seems to me the Master has 2 choices. Turn Palmer and wait for the worms to work their magic. Or, take control of Palmer’s body, thus making him the new Master. I’m betting on the latter. Basically, instead of keeping him around as his partner, the Master takes his body, therefore killing him and ultimately granting Palmer’s wish but not in the way that he wanted.
Either way, you can bet we are heading into a humdinger of a season finale next week. Even though we lost the Sun-Hunters and New World Ancients, last week’s episode was phenomenal and will likely go down as one of the best of the series. And, tonight’s episode, while perhaps not on the same level in terms of action, suspense, and choreography, still was magnificent. I predict that next week’s finale is going to blow both of these out of the water, and so, like someone just told me this past week, we all might should have 911 on speed dial.
The Strain airs on Sundays at 9/8c on FX.
Critic Grade — A
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com
s are closed.