This review contains spoilers.
3.9 Do Or Die
At the time of writing, I have not yet seen the premiere of The Walking Dead season seven. I don’t know what will happen in Negan’s circle of pain, but I do know that The Walking Dead will have a hard time matching the anguish and sadness that came with not one, but two major deaths on this week’s episode of The Strain. Let’s eulogise said casualties – Councilwoman Justine Feraldo and the ex-luchador, friend of Gus – Angel de Plata himself – Angel Guzman Hurtado. RIP to both of these brave heroes who give their lives so others can live.
This week, things take a bleak turn on The Strain. A few episodes back, New York fell to Strigoi forces and now Feraldo’s men are abandoning her and their city. Feraldo decides to keep fighting with the few men left, but when her caravan is attacked, the last days of this brave politician arrived. We’ve seen Feraldo go from a typical city politician to a true warrior as she took back Red Hook and took the fight to the Strigoi like no other. We celebrated her victories and breathed a sigh of relief when we found out she wasn’t affected after a close call with a Strigoi worm. But this week, Feraldo’s luck runs out.
When her convoy is attacked, Feraldo takes a stand. She loses the remaining men loyal to her, but she isn’t alone. Because in the same pitched battle, Gus and Angel also stand and fight for their city. More on them in a second, but with Feraldo and Gus battling side by side you have the elite of society fighting together with the disenfranchised. It shows that in the face of the Strigoi attack, class and social economic status no longer matter. Here you have a gangbanger, a destitute ex-wrestler, and a powerful politician battling together because they’re all human, and they’re all New Yorkers.
But in this case, that’s just not enough. A few episodes back, Feraldo escaped infection when she got a Strigoi worm in her eye. This time, she isn’t so lucky. When a Strigoi attacks her, Feraldo fearlessly fires her weapon, but the splatter sends a Strigoi parasite straight into her eye socket, and this time there’s no Eph or Fet around to save her. This time, Justine Feraldo, the embodiment of the spirit of New York, is infected.
Meanwhile, Gus and Angel are making their stand. After saving Angel last week by killing his Strigoi mama, Gus just wants out of the city that caused him so much pain. Remember it was Gus who took the Master from that fateful JFK flight in the first season and basically allowed the Strigoi infestation to begin. Now, Gus wants out and Angel is forever by his side. But this time, like Feraldo, Angel is infected. Now, Gus is truly alone. His childhood hero, his guardian angel, the unstoppable Angel de Plata is infected. I need to take a minute here because I’m getting a little choked up. In Angel, we had a former Mexican wrestler that used silver crucifix brass knuckled to fight vampires with his bare hands. In Angel, you had a tribute to shlock cinema and lucha libre culture. Angel might have been my favourite character on TV, and now, he’s gone. Sacrificed so his friend, his surrogate son, Gus can live. RIP, brave souls.
If you still have some energy after those losses, let’s take a look at what else is going on. We have a flashback to the sad life of Eldritch Palmer. We’ve never known much about Palmer’s parentage, but this week, we meet his father. It turns out Palmer is a bastard, the illegitimate son of a billionaire who wants nothing to do with his ailing son. This week, we witness Palmer arriving at his father’s company asking for a job so he can prove himself.
Palmer wants to show the world that despite his many physical limitations, he still has what it takes to make money. Palmer’s father shuns him and gives him a cheque for ten thousand dollars, telling him to get out of his life. That cheque became the foundation for Palmer’s fortune and years later, it’s revealed that Palmer buys out his father’s company, dismantles it and puts his father’s loyal workers out to pasture. This begins Palmer’s descent into cruelty and avarice, and it goes a long way to explain why Palmer was willing to betray the human race to the Strigoi.
Palmer’s story also shows how tough the old man is. He rose from nothing to become a billionaire and is able to make his father pay for his cruel dismissal. Well, in the present, Palmer proves his toughness once again by luring Eichhorst into a trap. Eichhorst sees a weak old man, but in reality, Palmer is a wolf under a blanket with a shotgun and almost succeeds in killing the Nazi vampire. Now, it seems Palmer is fully on the side of the angels, well, as long as it is profitable to him anyway.
This week is totally loaded with material, as we also get to see Eph and Dutch build their weapon against the Master. They use one of Nora Goodweather’s Feelers (those creepy, crawly children vampire things) to build a weapon that blocks the Master’s commands. They bring the weapon to Setrakian and Fet, but the old man and the exterminator aren’t quick to trust Eph after the scientist stole the Lumen a few weeks back. It also doesn’t help that Eph is now bedding down with Dutch, Fet’s ex. All the conflict ends once Mister Quinlan shows back up. Last week, Quinlan survived an underground nuclear blast, and thank goodness he’s okay, because I don’t think I could handle losing a luchador and a benevolent ninja vampire all in the span of two weeks.
But wait, there are two nukes, and the remaining bomb is in the hands of Eldritch Palmer who completed his turn against the Master. Despite the loss of Feraldo and Angel, it looks like the humans might have an advantage after all. We’ll find out next week in the season finale.
Read Marc’s review of the previous episode, White Light, here.