Before developing and serving as showrunner on The Strain, Carlton Cuse was half of the duo behind one of television’s greatest dramas of all time: Lost. While you wouldn’t think The Strain and Lost would have much in common besides the occasional monster, the last few episodes of the FX series have seemed to adopt some of the Lost DNA.
Flashbacks were one of the ABC drama’s signatures, something The Strain has done before, but which have now been used prominently in three consecutive stellar episodes. As well, it seems like no coincidence Cuse’s current show has picked up steam just after announcing an end date, a similar jolt to the storytelling on Lost, with neither show having their plot stuck in neutral anymore. Then finally, Lost was not afraid to kill main characters, including multiple at the same time. While Angel (Joaquín Cosío) and Justine (Samantha Mathis) were by no means central characters on The Strain, their heroic deaths added a weight to “Do or Die” and showed that anything can happen in the series’ last 11 episodes.
“Do or Die” began by finally showing a glimpse at the fallout from the strigoi invasion at Central Park. Following the brutal loss, Justine is trying to rally the troops with a new plan, despite constant interruptions by a skeptical officer who says they should head for the mountains. “You want to cut and run? Go ahead, but I’m not going anywhere,” she declares. “This is our city. A city we are sworn to protect. And I, for one, am not going to abandon her.” Great speech — it even brings back memories of David Ortiz in 2013 after the Boston Marathon bombing. Ortiz’s epic speech helped rally the community and a few months later, the Red Sox even won the World Series. Unfortunately for Justine, hers didn’t work out quite as well, as only a few officers decide to ride it out with her.
A freshly invigorated Palmer makes a surprise drop-in at the home of Bob, a Stoneheart employee who probably wouldn’t mind some White for himself since he’s in a wheelchair. Bob is surprised to see Palmer because Sanjay (Cas Anvar) said he was taking over the company due to Palmer’s poor health. Luckily, Bob is Team Palmer and is going to help find the mysterious cargo from the ship. This week’s first flashback sends us back to Manhattan in 1962, where Palmer (Charlie Gallant) makes another surprise appearance, this time to see his deadbeat dad, James O’Neill (Don Stark). Palmer hopes the guilt over his dad’s absentee parenting will help him land a job at O’Neill Industries, but O’Neill won’t oblige. Instead, he gives his illegitimate son a check for $10,000, which he says fulfills whatever obligation he has.
While Palmer may not be feeling the love, Eph definitely is as he enjoys a shower with a fully clothed Dutch. Just as Team Etch fans are squealing at home, who should show up but Fet. He’s come for his girl! He wants her to come back to the club with him so they can flee the city. Dutch doesn’t want to leave since she thinks the work they’re doing to block strigoi communications could be a game changer. Realizing he’s lost his girl and apparently his apartment, Fet concedes defeat. “At least I tried,” he somberly says. “Hey, I wish you the best of luck.”
The happy couple decides to celebrate their bliss by going feeler hunting in the sewers. “Thank you,” says Eph. When Dutch asks, “For what?” he responds, “For sticking with this, with me.” TEAM ETCH! They lure a few feelers into a trap, with one attacking Dutch, but Eph takes a bat to it like a real gentleman. “It looks so much easier on the nature shows,” he says (what nature shows does he watch?). They take the dead feeler back to the makeshift lab to open it up, where they discover its communication center is double that of the regular strigoi, only making them more confident in their plans.
Quick check-in on some less-romantic duos on the show: Gus and Angel are trying to find a way out of the city — the same goes for Justine and right-hand man Frank (Paulino Nunes) — while Fet can’t convince Setrakian they should leave, too. “Live to fight another day,” says the exterminator. After years of chasing The Master and the hell Eichhorst has put him through, Setrakian’s answer is no surprise. “For me, there is no other day,” he confesses. “I will either do this now or die trying.”
NEXT: A sudden strigoi ambush results in shocking death(s)