Just one episode before the season finale (and yes, a Season 2 has been confirmed), ‘The Strain’ works hard this week to move the pieces into place for a big showdown.
Defeated and deflated from their failed encounter with the Master, our heroes return to Setrakian’s pawn shop to reassess their situation. Eph’s kid lies to his father and says that nothing eventful happened while they were away. Concerned that he may have been blindly following the wrong man for the past few weeks, Eph worries that Setrakian has gone nuts and that his quest for vengeance is suicidal.
Hacker Chick returns. Ugh. I thought we were finally done with her. She says that she has brought the team “a win,” and dumps a bunch of electronic doodads on a table. She claims that she can hack into the Emergency Alert System to interrupt television broadcasting so that Eph can deliver a warning to “wake up the world.” Unfortunately, this ties into an ongoing flaw in the show’s plotting. With vampires running around freely slaughtering people in the streets, how is it that no news media has yet picked up on this story and already warned the world? Yeah, I know, the internet in the city is supposedly down, but we had breaking news on television before the internet. Are there no reporters with cameras who can go out and talk to people anymore?
In flashbacks to 1967 (though from the way the setting is depicted, the storyline looks more like it takes place in 1667), young Setrakian begins his career as a vampire hunter by tracking the Master to a castle in Albania. Stupidly, he climbs down a well and through a dark cavern, only to discover that he’s wandered into a trap. Eichorst steals his rope out of the well. By the time Setrakian climbs out and races back home, his wife and children are missing. They’ll return later, vampirized. He decapitates everyone in his family, then cuts out and puts his wife’s heart in a jar. (If beheading a vampire kills it, how does her heart still stay alive? That seems like a pretty major flaw in the logic of the show’s premise.)
Back to the present day, old Setrakian apologizes for his behavior in the sewers and says that he’s all better now. Hacker Chick does her hacking and interrupts late night infomercials. Eph is able to speak for 30 seconds to issue a warning about the plague in the city turning people to monsters and give vague details about needing to behead them before he’s cut off. Everybody cheers at their success. The five people watching television at 3 o’clock in the morning are now better informed!
Or they assume it’s a hoax, which is probably a lot more likely.
Just then comes the sound of a window smashing. Nora’s mother screams. Everyone runs into the shop to find rocker Gabe (hey, I was wondering where he was), still wearing his stupid wig for some reason, taking a big chomp out of mama’s throat. More vampires climb in. The good guys head for the basement and barricade the door behind them. Fortunately, Setrakian has a secret passageway escape route. Sadly, Nora’s mom ain’t gonna make it. Eph eagerly steps up and offers to take care of the problem. A crying Nora insists that if anybody’s going to chop her mother’s head off, it has to be her. I doubt that’s really a good idea for her own emotional health, but Nora goes ahead and lops mama’s cabeza clean off.
Thus the show eliminates one of its most annoying and useless characters. Now, about that kid…
Over in the Stoneheart Group building, Eldritch Palmer is sick again. The surgery he had only forestalled the inevitable. The Master, who had promised him immortality, is a no-show. Eichorst taunts him a little, but Palmer insists that he is still necessary for the Master’s plans, and that he has faith the vampire will save him. Later, the Master indeed shows up and gives him a drink of a gooey bodily fluid. Palmer’s manservant finds him dancing in the rain on a balcony.
For some reason, the writers are still struggling to find excuses to keep Gus on the show, even though he has barely any connection to anything important going on anymore. This week, he kidnaps a dude from the car theft ring in order to score some guns and cash so that he can make his escape from the city. In the process of this, he learns that the guy has been paid a lot of money to arrange transport of a shipping container at the city’s docks. Gus gets the brilliant idea to see what’s in the container he might be able to steal. He breaks open the lock and… oh shit, it’s full of vampire zombies! They swarm him and the other dude. Much shooting breaks out until the both of them run out of bullets.
Just when things look dire for Gus, those vampire commandoes from several episodes back show up out of the blue, slaughter the vamp-zombies, then grab Gus and whisk him away.
I’m certainly glad that the vampire commandoes haven’t been forgotten. That’s something I’d really like to know more about. I also think it’s a positive development that Nora’s mother has been dropped. Overall, this is a pretty decent episode, at least by the standards of ‘The Strain’. I don’t think it’s the show’s best, but it’s a solid effort with only a minimum of agonizing stupidity. That’s decidedly better than average for this series.