The Strain: The Fall Review
The Strain, season 3, episode 10, ‘The Fall’ (or ‘How I learned to Stop Worming, and Love the Bomb’), was proof positive that wish-fulfillment should always come with a careful-what-you-wish-for chaser. It was a big finale; but sometimes bad things come in big packages. I can go on like this, but, really, I’m just trying to fill in cohesive word space – while my inner rage monster dictates to me, in a tongue that hasn’t been classified as language, yet.
Yeah, that was me, feeling the need to pick myself up, after ‘The Fall.’ Getting to that state, however, did require something of a climb – and until a certain melondrama hit a trigger point, it was a decent ride up.
That ride kicked off with Palmer (Jonathan Hyde) going all-out, with his screw the Master plan. Only, none of it involved actually protecting himself (or his men, I guess) from the Master (like he once did from the Ancients’ Sun-Hunters). Well, the Master put the last of his toy soldiers to good use, and Palmer now had a new outlook, regarding life, the universe, and everything. Not that Palmer, himself, would know – being under new management, and all.
Bad Whitey just got a whole lot badder.
The Palmer ‘acquisition’ made for an ironic twist to a series signature rivalry, as those last toy soldiers also came in handy getting Eichorst (Richard Sammel) back into never-mind shape (as in: never mind that gangland spraying, last ep.). With Eichorst back in the Number One seat (and sporting a lot of SPF), it was time to remind the audience that Zach (Max Charles) was important, and that Kelly (Natalie Brown) was still just a really good mother, after all.
Why, yes, I am shaking my head.
What can I say about Zach that hasn’t been already expressed, in more appropriately profane manners, in less formal circles? Well, specifically, he should be well enough aware of his situation to have known what a would-be good Samaritan was getting into. That outcome was all on him, and while I’m trying hard not to think that he’s been getting used to his special status, his willingness to accept the accompanying spiel suggests a power trip in the making. If only it had remained that simple.
Of course, a degree of buyers remorse had to have set in, when Kelly could no longer hear the anti-dinner bell; but this facilitated a bit of plot-logic that I’ll address later.
Team Cows with Guns started the episode with a plan facilitated by Palmer’s old management; so, naturally, only Setrakian (David Bradley) noticed the difference in business models. Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones) probably would’ve noticed even quicker – but he was held up by the last toy soldier (“Look out, it’s that one guy!”).
Fet (Kevin Durand) has never worn emo very well; so it was more than a little disappointing to see him carry on his Eph (Corey Stoll) beef. Real grudges aren’t episodic, fine; but I’d hope the resistance’s most dedicated foot-soldier would know to time-and-place it better. Giving Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas) the moral high-ground didn’t help (anybody remember Kate? Fet – looking at you).
So about Eldritch Palmer’s new outlook on life, the universe, and everything. It’s been said that Jonathan Hyde has been overplaying the role – bringing an almost Shatner-parody level of ham to it. I’ve found it to be kind of a nice touch, really – a seasoned actor having fun with an archetype character. The fact that (in hindsight) it has been a warm-up, for a truly over-the-top characterization, made the transition even better. If you thought Hyde was hamming it up before….
Anybody else felt the need to set Master Palmer’s scene with Eichorst to Industrial Metal music? Hell, even the show’s own title sequence theme would work; but maybe I’m the only one thinking Rammstein, listening to Robin Atkin Downes speaking German.
The set-up, to the showdown, kind of pulled the legs out from under it. Why was Quinlan the only one to get a whiff of foul? Palmer’s been justifiably paranoid, since breaking ranks, so nobody noticed his private army no longer in place? For an operation so important, and involving splitting up, why wouldn’t they all be in radio contact (Dutch – looking at you)?
That left things entirely up to plot-logic – in this case, a Boss Fight that was the Master’s to lose.
How has the Master lasted so long, when people as immaterial as Eph & Setrakian inspire him to playful carelessness? After all that testing, why would the Deph device just malfunction unexpectedly, when needed? All to make the Boss Fight happen, then keep it interesting. I’d say I really appreciated Quinlan’s no-nonsense contribution (we know he relished it, but he didn’t waste time about it); but it only made everybody else (especially the Master) look bad. I’d also mention that the Master still had that new-body-stiffness working against him – making for less than a fair fight – but this needed to be one of those a-win-is-a-win moments.
Dramatic license be damned.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a suspense series without that playground keep-away game element; and I think we all noticed that look our heroes gave each other. The ‘it couldn’t have been that easy’ look. The one that came after they decided not to just chop/stomp/ burn the beaten Red Worm out of their misery, right there & then, and to go ahead with the sleeps-with-the-fishes idea.
Damned dramatic license.
So about the Zach-Kelly-Eph melondrama, and plot-logic. The Stragoi upper echelon reaction was to be expected; but try telling that to our heroes. Sure, the Master didn’t think to bring more than one SEAL Stragoi with him, for security purposes; but Eph had no business getting comfy in the Master’s new penthouse, of all places. Once Kelly’s homing sense overrode the Stragoi thirst for family blood (well, Zach talked her out of it, really), Eph’s carelessness provided the next best opportunity.
Zach yelling from the sidelines has officially become a Banshee wail. No one died as a consequence of his being distracting, this time around; but someone died, nonetheless. This was actually the no-nonsense Boss Fight the show needed. Ignore Zach, and it was free of all the sentimental pitfalls of previous encounters. It also left us with one less persistent annoyance to the cast. This was good. One look at Zach’s “We hates him forever” expression, however, took all the joy out of the moment. You just had to know things were going to get really bad.
Boy, did it get really bad.
I’ll let the righteous wrath of the internet have its way with Zach’s character – I found myself staring at all those people left staring into the mother of emo moments unleashed. For starters, even the effects of tactical devices are not as well behaved as depicted, here; but even if Eph had a moment of sire remorse, behind his hesitation, there was no explaining Quinlan freezing (though, I suppose weary immortals can be subject to a novelty moment, like the event he just witnessed).
It’s one thing when an episode delivers on its title; but when a title like ‘The Fall’ speaks more of the whole series, than any one episode, then you have to wonder less about what comes next, and whether you should care.
Regardless of what the major event is, the how still matters. ‘The Fall’ contorted itself in far too many convoluted ways to ensure its outcome. Never mind the literal fallout, at the end, the real fallout comes from any further concern for Zach making Eph dementedly unlikable.
While it’s good, that Zach quadrupling down on his Nora fail (it’s over 9000, really) makes a redemption less likely, I’m pretty sure the show – or at least Eph – will continue to try for one. As the Zeph dynamic is certain to remain a key element to the show, not even Quinlan will be able to salvage The Strain, going forward. Yeah, well, no more melondrama for this guy; I just can’t.
Insert your Jump the Shark reference, here (Nuked the Lady?); but, for me, The Strain has officially crossed the line from suspense series, to exercise in masochistic frustration. Hope you had a nice trip; but don’t count on seeing me, next Fall.
Leave your thoughts, on this The Strain ‘The Fall’ review, and this episode of The Strain, in the comments section, below. Readers, seeking more The Strain coverage, can visit our The Strain Page. Readers seeking more TV show reviews can go to our TV Show Review Page, our TV Show Review Twitter Page, our TV Show Review Facebook Page, and our TV Show Review Google+ Page. Want up-to-the-minute notification? FilmBook staff members publish articles by Email, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, and Facebook.