The Strain “The Battle of Central Park” Review (Season 3 Episode 6)

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So, as some fans know, there’s good news, and there’s bad news for “The Strain.” The good news is that the show was renewed for a fourth season. The bad news is that it will be the last. On the plus side, though, this allows the show to end on its own terms, which is also good. On the other hand, can they wrap all of this up in fourteen more episodes or so? That remains to be seen.

Still, the fact that FX allowed the show one more season to end things as it wanted is a plus- if fourteen is somewhat of a stretch, their wrapping things up over the course of four more episodes is a much more dubious prospect, to be sure. I can certainly live with fourteen, though, as that seems pretty doable, overall.

For the record, there are three books in the series, and the creators, Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan originally envisioned a five-season series adaptation. While coming in a season short might seem bad, from what I’ve read, the creators honestly feel they can get it done in four, though they may have had less of a choice than they let on.

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The show currently garners just over a million viewers, which isn’t terrible, especially in comparison to other FX shows, where it ranks fifth place among its highest-rated shows. That said, it ranked lower than the cancelled “The Bastard Executioner,” and considerably lower than FX’s highest-rated shows, “American Horror Story”- number one at just below four million viewers- and “American Crime Story,” which ranks just over three million viewers.

Factor in the high cost of making the show and you can see why FX might want to wrap things up sooner than later. Still, the show-runners insist that they felt they could do the ending of the show justice in one more season, so we’ll just have to wait and see if that proves to be true.

Personally, I can see where it might be, as the show has occasionally drawn things out a hair longer than it should have, especially early on. Either way, it’s overall good news, as FX easily could have pulled the plug on the show earlier than that, especially after doing so with “Executioner,” and that was from FX royalty Kurt Sutter, of “Sons of Anarchy” fame.

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My guess is that they want to retain a good working relationship with Del Toro and Hogan, as well as showrunner Carlton Cuse, of “Lost” and “Bates Motel” fame, which is understandable. Here’s hoping that the three can come up with something at least as interesting as “The Strain” on down the line, though nothing concrete has been announced as of yet.

In the meantime, the struggle to reclaim control over New York City resumed with this episode, in which our team took seemingly two steps forward, only to find they’d actually been outmaneuvered considerably in the end, setting them back who knows how much in the long run. These people can’t win for losing, it seems.

We began with Justine preparing the troops for the battle ahead of them, with the convict crew overseeing most of the underground action, while local cops and the military oversaw the above-ground action. In the meantime, Fet would lead a tactical team of others into the area he found in the last episode, in hopes of blasting the nest he located to kingdom come, which would be a big win for their side- or so they thought.

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The plan was to move in at dawn, while the Strigoi were supposedly asleep and unwary. Fet met with his tactical connection, who turned out to be Captain Kate Rogers (America Olivo), the woman he’d had a one night stand with a few episodes back. She lamented having to “babysit” a rat exterminator before Fet alerted her to the fact that said person was him, who she’d assumed was Navy SEAL, after his story of losing his last team.

Thankfully, they were able to get past the misunderstanding and focus on the task at hand. Before that, Fet wanted to swing by the old headquarters to load up on some necessary items, though he might have wanted to rub Kate in Dutch’s face a bit as well. If so, mission accomplished, as the move did indeed get under her skin, with Dutch commenting on it throughout the episode, albeit claiming she was fine with it, which seemed unlikely, as she was the one who kept referencing it in the first place.

Still, it wasn’t enough for Dutch and Eph to lay low during the siege, as they wanted to log in some communication with the Strigoi during the battle, to see if they could detect any patterns that could prove useful to them. They picked a brain that Dutch had dubbed “Marley” after Jacob, of “A Christmas Carol” fame, as it was their newest one at hand and thus, like the first ghost to have visited Scrooge in the tale in that sense.

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Faring less well in the name game was Zach, who was presented with a new “pet” by his mother, Kelly, and Eichorst, who told him it was for his own protection after recent events. The “pet” in question was one of the little blind kid vamps, a creepy little girl that obeyed Zach’s every command with alarming speed.

Though Zach ultimately ended up bonding with the thing somewhat, he was understandably unnerved a bit by it as well. (Talk about a nightmare-inducing “pet”!) Either way, the two had to leave the area when Fet and company got a little too close for comfort, though Zach was at least smart enough to leave behind a note, in hopes that someone in contact with his father would see it- which Fet did, thankfully.

Also brought in to sweep the tunnels were Gus and Angel, who were promised a full pardon- if they made it out alive. Alas, they were not the only ones present, as new recruit Maria was also brought in, among others, none of which had much in the way of training, much to Gus’ consternation, as he knew the newbies would be an unwelcome distraction.

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Meanwhile, Dutch and Eph set up at a kiosk in Central Park near the action, as Fet and company entered the structure that the nest he found was inside. No sooner had the latter done so than the chatter amongst the Strigoi began, making it clear that at least some of them were well aware of Fet and the others’ presence.

Sure enough, in no time, Fet and his crew are attacked, with ultimately all of the team wiped out or infected except him and Kate, which made for decidedly small “team” moving forward. Fortunately for them, Gus was able to subdue his warden overseers and kill them, after they tried to send an untested Maria into the fray, despite her protests and the fact that Gus and Angel were much more qualified and had been getting things done just fine up until that point.

The two overseers paid dearly for the unnecessary friction, as both ended up getting shot in the melee, with only Gus, Angel and Maria left standing in the end. (The other convicts were killed by Strigoi.) Shortly thereafter, they caught up with Fet, albeit unintentionally. Gus agreed to help Fet and Kate, in exchange for letting the others go to safety, which Fet agreed to, having no real claim on any of them, anyway.

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The closer Fet and company got, the more the line of communication that Eph and Dutch were monitoring rose in frequency and intensity. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to translate said communication, so all it told them was that all the troops in question were close to…something. Dutch lamented that they couldn’t be like the code-breakers of Bletchley Park, though you never know- there’s still time to figure things out eventually.

Also up top, Justine fretted from the command center, worried that Fet and company were taking too long and that they would lose the daylight advantage soon if he didn’t hurry up. She allowed things to continue, with the assurance that all was technically well- for now. Meanwhile, Fet finds Zach’s book and radios it in to Eph, who goes down to where Fet indicates to investigate further.

Alas, a vamp spots Eph and communicates it instantly to the Master before they can kill it, though Dutch does so in spectacular, Michonne-style fashion, slicing off the top half of the creature’s head with a sword. They scramble to investigate, with Eph finding the message and realizing that Zach is both alive and safe- and probably close by at this very moment.

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Fet and company arrive at the nest’s location finally, and Fet hurriedly sets up his silver-laced explosives, which he has put together in such a way as to take out the entire nest in one fell swoop. However, the Strigoi are not only waking up, but some of them are already serving as guards, forcing the others to try and fend them off in a tight space, as Fet does what he needs to do.

One of them falls into the nest, and it’s clear that it’s only a matter of time before the Strigoi hits the fan. Fet tosses the bomb and…success! The silver bomb works as its supposed to, showering over the semi-sleeping Strigoi and killing them almost instantly in one fell swoop. Fet calls in the victory to a relieved Justine. Still, though Central Park is secured, there’s also Manhattan proper to be concerned with, where the Strigoi are running wild.

While Dutch has a look around, Eph looks over Zach’s make-shift room, lamenting that he missed him. Eichorst shows up to taunt Eph, telling him that Zach isn’t there- and that the war is far from over. They may think they’ve won, but he assures Eph it’s a temporary victory. Dutch swoops in and cuts off Eichorst’s hand, and he runs screaming from the area, swatting at her as he goes in anger.

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Meanwhile, the above-ground troops are attacked at all sides by seemingly thousands of Strigoi. It seems that the whole thing was a ploy to get them all into one tight space- Central Park- in order to attack them en masse once it was nightfall. Sure enough, the ploy works and in no time, the Northern perimeter falls, along with several other checkpoints, resulting in a massive defeat just when it seemed the tide was turning for the humans.

Everyone underground heads up top, with chaos reigning in the streets. Eph wants to try and find Zach, but Dutch convinces him it’s a lost cause at the moment, and that they should retrieve their evidence and head back to safety while they still could, pointing out that Eichorst indicated that Zach was unharmed and they had some unknown plans for him, so he would be fine for the time being.

Justine and Frank realize that the whole thing was a trap to get them all in one place, with the Strigoi swooping in from Harlem to attack them in droves. She announces for everyone to fall back while they still can, lamenting the massive loss at hand, just when it seemed victory was in their grasp. Thus concludes the “Battle of Central Park.”

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This was definitely an action-packed, tense episode with lots of cool moments and plenty of mayhem. Granted, not a lot of time for character development, but it wasn’t about that, anyway, and we’ve had plenty of it this season, regardless. We did get some nice moments with Fet and Kate, as well as Dutch and Eph, particularly in relation to one another and how they reacted to their “new” teams.

It will also be interesting to see if Maria becomes a new love interest for Gus, now that he’s not at the beck and call of the prison system anymore. I suspect she will, though I also suspect it will be short-lived. We shall see. Until then, this was a fun episode and I’m psyched to see where this all heads next week, where it appears Eph and Dutch will have some kind of breakthrough in their research, if the preview was any indication.

Congrats to “The Strain” for it’s early renewal and I’m glad they will be able to at least end things on their own terms, more or less. Let me know where you think this is all headed, and make your predictions for the last few episodes down below. See you next week!