The Strain “Do or Die” Review (Season 3 Episode 9)

Strain 08

On the penultimate episode of the season, “The Strain” continued to not play around, as several more key characters were taken out and one major villain was left down but not quite out yet, in the aptly-titled “Do or Die.”

Tonight’s episode mostly centered on the concentrated efforts of our main characters to save New York, just as everyone was ready to abandon it en masse, somewhat understandably, after it was all but overrun by Strigoi in light of recent events.

Indeed, after Justine asked how many people were willing to stay put and defend the city, a whopping five cops volunteered, while the rest all got the hell out of Dodge- wisely, as it turns out.

Meanwhile, Palmer continued to try and get to the bottom of the mysterious package that had arrived from Egypt, calling on one of the few members of his old staff he still trusted for information, telling him that Sanjay and others were trying to stage a coup to take Stoneheart out from under him. The man in question said he’d find out where the cargo had been delivered ASAP and get back to him.

The Strain 03

This week’s flashbacks centered around Palmer, as well, as we saw him as a younger man back in 1962, already forced to use a cane after a kidney surgery left him partially disabled, but still hopeful. Palmer goes to visit his estranged father (Don Stark, “That 70’s Show”) at O’Neill Industries, looking for a job in investments.

His dad all but laughs him out of the room, saying that he can barely walk as it is. Instead, he writes him a check for $10,000 and tells Palmer that they’re done after this. Palmer is bowed, but not broken, and leaves to make good use of that money, as we discover later on.

In 1992, Palmer pays his father another visit, this time in a hospital to pay him back his initial investment. His father laughs even more this time and rips up the check, giving it back to him and saying that he has no use for his money. Palmer then informs him that he’s bought his company wholesale, fired all the key members and is set to replace them with his own, renaming it Stoneheart, in honor of his father’s icy ways.

His father laughs again, saying he’s wasted his life hating him and plotting to get even, and that he’ll probably outlive Palmer, given the shape he’s in. Palmer’s father vows to dance on his grave, even! Well, now we know how he came to be such a nasty individual.

Strain 09

This whole flashback, down to the bit about the kidneys, reminded me of Locke’s back-story on “Lost,” big-time, which may not have been unintentional, given that Carlton Cuse was a writer and producer on both shows.

In the final flashback, back in 2002, we see Palmer and Eichorst meet in Paris, for the second time, after Palmer’s initial refusal of Eichorst’s offer for the Master to heal him once and for all, in exchange for use of Palmer’s considerable resources.

Sure enough, Eichorst told him, as Palmer has maintained all along, that the Master and him would be equal partners in everything and that he would never betray him. The two even shook on it for good measure.

Back in the present, Palmer’s source comes through and his team heads to the given location, where they shoot their way in and retrieve the package, along with Sanjay. However, instead of being the Ancient a lot of us expected and Quinlan suspected, it turned out to be another tactical nuclear bomb, with the other one being the one Eichorst used to destroy the Ancients in the last episode.

Strain 05

Palmer stashes the weapon and heads back to his penthouse to hole up, hatching a plan to defeat Eichorst once and for all. As his team hides away, he gets back into bed and feigns still being ill, since Eichorst doesn’t know that Palmer got a hold of the White from Abe yet.

Sure enough, an enraged Eichorst falls for it, and after telling Palmer he’s gone too far and threatening to kill him, Palmer pulls out a shotgun from beneath the sheet of the bed he’s lying in and shots Eichorst, with the others joining in shortly thereafter. Ultimately, Eichorst makes it to the elevator and prys open the doors and throws himself down the shaft to the bottom.

When the episode ends, Palmer’s head of security has the building sealed and has his men go to fetch Eichorst, or whatever’s left of him. Palmer tells him to bring the car around, as he has to go to see Abe again- no doubt to make another deal.

Of course, the Master, through Eichorst, will know what Palmer has done, so it’s in his best interest to eliminate him before the Master comes after him- or sends someone to kill him, at least.

Strain 01

As all this is going on, Gus and Angel opt to head out of town themselves, getting passed by a herd of cops doing the same along the way. Trouble is, everyone is doing the same thing practically, so it’s slow-going trying to get out of town.

Finding one route jammed up by traffic, they head for another- this one by the George Washington Bridge. As Gus points out later, if they can get to the bridge, they’ll be okay, as Strigoi can’t cross water.

Sure enough, they do, but find the same issue blocking them. Justine, Frank and their team are also on the scene, having wisely decided that only seven people aren’t enough to fight an entire army of Strigoi. Angel spots them about to be overrun by Strigoi and wants to help, much to Gus’ chagrin, but Angel doesn’t give him much of a choice, hopping out and doing it anyway.

Justine’s team is picked off one by one, with Frank the last to go. Justine manages to shoot Frank’s attacker before he can kill him, but in doing so, ironically, the Strigoi’s head explodes, splattering guts- and worms all over the place. This time, Justine is infected, and there’s no saving her. Resigned to their fate, she and Frank go out in a hail of bullets.

Strain 03

Gus and Angel make a valiant effort to save the two, but to no avail. Indeed, poor Angel is also bitten, and knows good and well what that means for him. He motions Gus to go and leave him behind, which Gus does, reluctantly, climbing a fence to the safety of the bridge.

In all of the shooting, someone hits the gas tank of a car and it eventually explodes, taking out Angel, Justine and Frank once and for all, in one fell swoop, so at least they didn’t have to suffer the indignity of becoming a Strigoi themselves.

Finally, after Fet warns Dutch and Eph to leave town, as the city will be overrun in a matter of days, even going so far as to invite Dutch to come with him, they refuse, saying they’re close to completing the device which could defeat them. Sure enough, shortly thereafter, they go to test said device and it works, rendering the Strigoi dumb and sitting ducks for retaliation, as the two kill off all of them in the area.

Strain 07

Dutch and Eph head over to Abe’s to tell him the good news, discovering in the process that he, too has elected to stay put and either defeat the Master or die trying. Fet and Eph get into it, as Fet blames Eph for everything he did with Quinlan, and in general- he may also suspect that something’s going on between him and Dutch- while Eph points out that a lot of what happened in Central Park was Fet’s doing as well, so he’s not exactly blameless himself.

The two get into an all-out brawl, with Eph proving surprisingly adept at defending himself. It’s interrupted and cut short by the arrival of Quinlan, who most of us suspected made it out alive of the explosion in “White Light.” He informs them that the time for petty squabbles is over, as the Master has killed the Ancients and it’s, you guessed it, “Do or Die” time.

That was about it for this episode, but once again, the show really delivered the goods big-time, taking out yet another slew of major characters, including Justine, Frank and Angel all at once; while bringing down Eichorst a peg or two to boot, though I highly doubt he’s outright dead. I suspect that, if anyone brings him down once and for all, it will be Abe- or at least, it should be.

Strain 02

That just leaves our core team, Abe, Fet, Dutch, Eph and Quinlan, with Gus a bit of an unknown outlier that may or may not figure into the final episode’s plot somehow. Meanwhile, there’s Palmer and his goons, plus the Master, who has some sort of plot of his own, involving Zach. Will it turn out that the Master has possessed Zach, as I predicted?

We certainly haven’t seen him in a while, and note that his mother stopped trying to look “normal.” I think that might have been his “pet” that Dutch and Eph captured for use in their device as well, another indication that Zach might not need to be handled with kid gloves anymore, as it were.

If the team is confronted with having to kill Zach to defeat the Master, they might not be able to go through with it. Or, at the very least, Eph might do something to stop them to save his son, and screw up the entire plan. Of course, a big part of it is to seal the Master in a silver-lined coffin, so they might not necessarily have to “kill” the Master, per se, so we’ll see. But I suspect that things won’t go according to plan anyway, or we wouldn’t have a whole ‘nother season left.

Strain 10

What did you think of the latest episode of “The Strain”? Were you surprised to see Angel and Justine taken out? How about the thing with Eichorst? Do you think that he’ll get away, or will Palmer’s men get a hold of him before he can? Will Palmer be able to successfully make a deal with Abe to prolong his life yet again?

Will Dutch and Eph’s device work like it’s supposed to in the clinch? Will Gus play a part? What is the Master’s plan? How does it involve Zach, if my prediction is wrong? How do you think the season will end? Sound off down below, and see you next week, for the big finale!