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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The city starts to fall on The Strain

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Because The A.V. Club knows that TV shows keep going even if we’re not writing at length about them, we’re experimenting with discussion posts. For certain shows, one of our TV writers will publish some brief thoughts about the latest episode, and open the comments for readers to share theirs.

  • Justine Feraldo is finally back in this episode, but only for so long. The second the episode opens on her limp monologue about saving “our city,” followed by nearly every officer in the city leaving her and Kowalski behind, you know she’s doomed.
  • “Do Or Die” continues the show’s streak of blasé flashbacks. The idea here is to give us context for Palmer’s hunger for power by showing us a tense relationship with his father, who ran O’Neill Industries before Palmer purchased, gutted, and turned it into Stoneheart. I mean, the story is okay, but it’s so heavy-handed. Palmer literally lays out why he’s going to call the company “Stoneheart” to his uncaring, remorseless father.
  • So “Do Or Die” follows up last week’s lesbian nurse pantomime with cheesy, clothed, sexy shower time this week. Nothing like little snippets of Red Shoe Diaries peppered throughout your horror show.
  • I couldn’t care less about the ongoing romantic drama between Fet, Dutch, and Eph. The Strain has always struggled to bring romance into its overarching narrative, and this is no exception. The physical confrontation between Eph and Fet this week is empty catharsis, a moment of contrived conflict before the “we all have to stick together” rallying cry. Or maybe I’m just still mad that Fet and Dutch didn’t get a chance to make it work.
  • Gross image of the week: the Feeler brain surgery.
  • As it turns out, the shipment from Egypt was not more Ancients, but rather two small nuclear bombs. Eichorst already used one on the Ancients lair. Now, Palmer has the other.
  • In stark contrast to last week’s beautifully shot attack on the Ancients’ lair, Gus’ escape from hoards of strigoi on the George Washington Bridge (I think? Excuse this Canadian’s ignorance if that’s wrong), aided by the sacrifices of Angel, Feraldo, and Kowalski, is particularly overwrought. Between the contrived way all the pieces need to be moved into place in order to give these characters a send off, and the intruding score and cheesy imagery, the moment doesn’t quite pack the intended emotional punch.
  • Quinlan survived last week’s attack and is reunited with his team. It looks like this season is building to the formation of a reluctant partnership between the Good Guys (Setrakian, Fet, Dutch, Eph, and Quinlan) and the potentially reformed Bad Guy (Palmer).
  • I’ll be curious to see how Gus fits in to the above. He’s a character that’s always felt wasted by shaky storylines and not enough screen time.
  • There’s hope yet for these humans, as Eph and Dutch’s cobbled-together Master signal seems to work, stopping the strigoi in their tracks and leaving them disconnected from their leader.
  • Remember, this is a shorter season than last, so the season finale airs next week. Will the city truly fall (the episode is called “The Fall,” if you’re looking for clues)? What will happen to Gus? Will Dutch play coy with her romantic intentions until she states that she loves both Eph and Fet? Come back next week to find out!