Martin Carr reviews the ninth episode of The Strain season 3…
The Strain is a pitch battle this week with stand up fights, swinging fists and artillery shells caught in slow motion arcs bouncing off concrete like Michael Bay choreographed pseudo gun porn. There are human moments and origin flashbacks but in the main we is in it for the bullets and mayhem people. As we inch ever closer to a season finale you can taste the tension, see those final pieces fall into place and watch as both sides lose and gain ground moment by moment.
Manhattan has fallen and there is an element of the Carpenter classic Escape From New York in the way things are jammed up, bridges impassable and anarchy is starting to take over. Mathis’ Feraldo turns from gun totting political hero into abandoned individual with little power and even less loyalty from those that remain. Hers is a fall from grace which is dealt with sensitively using worms, fire and enough spent cartridges to make some NRA palms good and sweaty.
Elsewhere the factions which constitute the last people able to fight back are far from galvanised. Quinlan is missing in action, Fet is ready to cut and run but unprepared for his friends to die. While Setrakian, Palmer, Goodweather and Dutch cling on to their own agendas hoping to make a difference. There is some good use of flashback in episode nine which broadens the narrative for an ageing Palmer and we learn not only his family background, but also where that iron will came from. Hyde handles his part of the bargain with style facing off against Eichorst for the umpteenth time and finally getting his measure. It is the effectiveness of these scenes between Hyde and Sammell which make up the dramatic meat and potatoes behind ‘Do Or Die’. Allowing both men to further develop these adversaries and lift them from the page.
Where the heart and soul lies however is with Angel and Gus in a dynamic which has become all important within the overall framework. From our first meeting with Angel when we see old re-runs of his wrestler movies and that regret carved into his face, it was clear that name was more than mere allegory. Which is why amongst all the carnage, flying worms and carcasses of burned out cars it seems fitting he should remain standing, crucifix aloft in defiance. As the smell of cordite mingles with burning flesh and our sole survivor glances back from behind the wire, it would be wise to reflect on all that has gone before and prepare yourself for what is to follow. With ‘The Master’ still at large and others tooling up The Strain could possibly be gearing up for one hell of a smack down. Best pack an extra pair underwear because things are about to kick off.