Although the fact that it took seven weeks to get to this point is still problematic for the series, I must admit that this week’s episode of ‘The Strain’ is the first that I have unreservedly liked. It’s well-plotted, well-directed, has a minimum of distracting stupidity, and ends with a hell of a twist.
Episode ‘For Services Rendered’ juggles storylines both in the present day, where Setrakian tries to explain to Eph and the gang that killing the Master vampire will end the plague (which Eph insists makes no sense biologically), with flashbacks to Setrakian’s time in the concentration camp. The flashback material parallels nicely with current events, as the young carpenter is forced to collaborate with Eichorst the Nazi (much as Jim would later) in exchange for prolonging his life a little while. He has an opportunity to kill Eichorst but chickens out, a decision that he’ll regret for decades afterward. Instead, he spends the episode on an elaborate woodworking project that of course turns out to be the Master’s coffin. The moral dilemmas in this story are richly dramatic.
Back to modern times, Jim’s sickly wife leaves him after Eph tells her how he was bribed to let the virus into the city. (It seems to me that Eph is just being a dick for no reason at all by saying anything to the wife.) Jim decides to let her go and help Eph make things right. He’s all-in now.
Setrakian and Eph concoct a plan to use Jim to lure Eichorst out into the open, so that Eichorst can lead them to the Master. Jim leaves a message for Palmer at the Stoneheart Group saying that he didn’t dispose of Capt. Redfern’s body, and will expose the truth about the virus unless the German delivers a big bag of cash to him in the middle of crowded Grand Central Station. (Still not explained is why Palmer or Eichorst would even care about being discovered anymore.)
Unsurprisingly, Eichorst is two steps ahead of our heroes. He confronts Jim at the train station, but knows full well that it’s a trap. This leads to a cat-and-mouse chase through the subway tunnels. Eichorst attacks Setrakian, but Eph shoots and wounds him with a silver bullet. Ultimately, Eichorst gets away by jumping onto a train (literally, he hops onto the top of a moving train as it leaves the station). Finding the Master will take more work than they expected.
In a side story, the bitchy lawyer lady’s husband returns home from a business trip and is attacked by his fully vamped-out wife. Later, the nanny who ran off with the lawyer’s children is forced by her own skeptical daughter to return them to their home. Upon entering the house, they’re chased by the lawyer, and the nanny’s daughter gets a minor injury. Just as the lawyer has them cornered and the situation looks pretty dire, she gets shot in the head by a crossbow wielded by a…
A group of vampires in weird paramilitary gear enter the house. Their leader talks to the nanny and tells her to come out of hiding. He asks if they were injured, and when the daughter shows him a scratch on her hand, he shoots her in the head. Then he sends the nanny and the kids on their way.
I take it this means that not all vampires are evil, and this faction is trying to stop the plague. Who are they? Where did they come from? These are questions that will need answering in future episodes.
I read the first book in the ‘Strain’ series a long time ago, but don’t remember the details too clearly. I definitely remember the lawyer and nanny storylines, but I don’t recall any “good” vampires. Was that in the first book, or was it pulled from one of the later books I haven’t read?
Either way, this is a very neat twist that makes me want to see more. Why couldn’t every episode of the show have been this good?