The Strain season 3 episode 10 review: The Fall

Spoilers ahead in our review of The Strain's bold, explosive and intense season 3 finale, The Fall...

This review contains spoilers.

3.10 The Fall

It’s hard to believe another season of The Strain has come and gone but here we are, and my friends, this week, there were losses. Last week, we had to say goodbye to Justine Feraldo and Angel De Plata, two brave warriors from profoundly different backgrounds that selflessly gave their lives so their friends and their city could live. This week, the battle continues, but where does it take us as we head into the final season of The Strain? Read on!

The episode kicks off with some powerful stock images of humanity’s rise to undreamed-of technological prominence in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Narrated by Setrakian himself, the intro serves as a reminder that mankind has survived a huge number of plagues to rise and achieve advancements that once seemed impossible. The intro also reminds the viewer that mankind has overproduced and now is in danger of being wiped out by the Strigoi, because in little over a month since the vampire invasion began, mighty humanity has fallen.

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But now, humanity has a chance to fight back. A small, brave band that represents the best and worst of us are all that stand before the Master and his Strigoi occupation. A band that consists of people that speak to the complexities and potential of the human race – the obsessed yet fiercely dedicated Setrakian, the powerful yet judgmental Vasiliy Fet, the arrogant yet brilliant Ephraim Goodweather, the ingenious yet broken Dutch Vanders, and the immoral yet dauntless Eldritch Palmer, along with the vampire Quinlan – this crew are all that stand between the Master and victory. And this team has a plan – a sonic device created by Dutch and Eph that can paralyse the Strigoi, they have a silver lead box that can trap the Master, and they have a goal to drop said box containing the incapacitated Master into the middle of the ocean and free the world of the Strigoi menace once and for all. All this almost happens, except for one thing.

Since the first season, little pouty mouthed Zack Goodweather has been a selfish prick. Last season, Zack sided with his Strigoi mother and caused the death of Nora. And now, the spoiled little prick’s inaction causes – get this now- the complete destruction of New York. That is not hyperbole, because little Zack’s feelings were hurt, the wee mealy mouthed brat set off a tactical nuclear weapon and guaranteed Strigoi dominance. Now, the series has foreshadowed this moment. The writers of The Strain have shown viewers repeatedly that little Zack is a dick. A dark soul that only sees his own needs and cannot put others above his own desires. Throughout this season, Zack has been shown playing catch with his Feeler watchdog and unblinkingly accepting all sorts of Strigoi weirdness. Well this week, Zack proves that he isn’t lonely or misguided, Zack is downright evil and has seemingly doomed humanity because of his injured feelings.

Now, I understand that watching your dad kill your mother isn’t something a kid can just walk off. This sort of thing is going to brutally affect you, of course it is. It’s tragic, yeah, but is it really a reason to knowingly set off a tactical nuke? Zack has seen Kelly commit all sorts of atrocities and cannot hide behind the fact that she is his mother. Kelly is a monster and Zach’s inability to accept that fact has doomed mankind. So how and why did dad slay mum? Let’s backtrack.

Eldritch Palmer has betrayed the Strigoi. Last week, the billionaire came inches from slaying Eichhorst and now, the corrupt billionaire has the Master’s nuclear device. The Master wants vengeance for Eichhorst and needs his weapon back, so he plans to take the fight to Palmer. Palmer and our heroes know this and plan to ambush the Master when he makes his move. With Eichhorst out of the picture, the Master will have to move on his own. And move he does, quickly and decisively. The Master ambushes Palmer and has no choice but to possess the sickly old man himself. Only Palmer knows the codes to the safe where the nuke is being held, and to gain access to his all-important weapon, the Master has to settle for Palmer’s weakened carcass.

So now we say goodbye to Eldritch Palmer, a character that has been vital to The Strain since day one. Farewell, Eldritch. You have long represented the worst of humanity, the greed, the dark ambition, the entitlement. Without you, the Strigoi would have never been able to gain a foothold in New York. At the end, Palmer saw the light and became a defender of humanity, but ironically, his downfall came when he gained eternal life though the Master.

So with the Master possessing Palmer and the nuke in hand, our heroes had to move quickly. Eph, Dutch, Fet, Setrakian, and Quinlan take the fight to the Master. Meanwhile, the Master retrieves Eichhorst and gives the loyal Nazi the White to cure him of his wounds. Eichhorst gives the detonator to Kelly and Zach and we are off on a climax that changes everything.

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Palmer’s body is weak, so thanks to Mister Quinlan’s fighting prowess and Dutch and Eph’s machine, our heroes defeat the Master and stuff him in the silver and lead casket. Our heroes overcome their in-fighting as Eph and Fet get along despite the fact that Fet is jealous over Eph’s new-found physical relationship with Dutch. Dutch and Fet get along despite the fact that the exterminator is utterly heartbroken, and everyone gets along with Quinlan despite the fact that he is Strigoi (and utterly badass, Quinlan fight scenes are now, like, my favourite thing on TV). 

It looks like Setrakian and his band have finally won. They take the Master to their waiting boat, to dump him in the ocean to make sure that the Master never rises again. Eph stays behind because of his injury when Nora appears. Because the Master is no longer in communication thanks to Dutch’s device, Nora is able to give into the bloodlust that fuels her. She is now completely bestial and attacks Eph, leaving the good doctor no choice to slay his ex-wife, in front of Zach – who has the detonator.

It has been made abundantly clear that Zach has always hated Eph. The boy never has forgiven his father for being an absentee dad, nor for allowing his mother to get transformed into a monster, nor for the divorce in the first place. All this anger and child rage makes Zack do the unthinkable – set off the device. And just like that, because of one self-centred child so important to this drama, New York is no more. The device was planted in the Statue of Liberty and now thanks to Zack’s innate selfishness and ugliness, things have gone all Planet Of The Apes (or Cloverfield if you prefer).

New York will now be an irradiated wasteland. A hell on Earth overrun by Strigoi. The Master has escaped, our heroes have nowhere to run, the bad guys win, good guys lose, humanity is on the razor’s edge of extinction, and it’s all because of one shitty kid.

And you thought The Walking Dead was brutal.

But Eph, Dutch, Setrakian, Fet, and Quinlan live – and Gus is now outside NYC as well. How they will survive the fallout is anyone’s guess, but next season of The Strain should be very, very different.

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The Strain is a series that dares to go big, go bold, and never look back. Next season is our last and thanks to Zack’s itchy and entitled trigger finger, the final season of The Strain should be the most memorable of all.

See you next year.

Read Marc’s review of the previous episode, Do Or Die, here.