‘The Strain’ 2.03 Recap: “This Is Who We Are”

If I got nothing else out of this week’s episode of ‘The Strain’, at least I finally know that the leader of the vampire commandos is named “Vaun” – not “Quinlan,” as he’s still credited on some IMDb pages. I’m glad that’s cleared up now. It had been bugging me.

Episode ‘Fort Defiance’ opens with rocker Gabriel Bolivar hauling a heavy suitcase down an alley when he’s approached by cops for the crime of… I don’t know, being too goth? There’s no reason for them to hassle him. Anyway, the suitcase is filled with the Master’s worm-filled dirt, and Gabe calls a bunch of vampires to eat the two cops. This scene has no relevance to anything later, so I’m not sure what the point of it is, other than to confirm that Gabe’s long hair is a wig and he’s completely hairless underneath – which we surely already knew.

Eph tests his vampire plague on the female test subject. Though it kills her, it does so too quickly. She dies instantly. That’s a problem because it means that an infected host won’t be able to bring the disease back to the colony to infect others. Nora starts work on a diluted version.

Walking alone outside at night, Setrakian is attacked by a random vampire. This seems to have been his plan. He decapitates the vamp and collects worms from its blood.

The commandos train Gus how to kill vampires. In hand-to-hand combat, he tears a vamp’s tentacle tongue right out of its throat. Vaun tells him that he’s now ready to help them “embark on a most important mission.” They’re going to kidnap Eldritch Palmer.

When Eph realizes that his son Zach is missing (I guess this means he gave the kid five seconds’ thought), he chases him down and pulls him off a city bus. This begs the question: HOW ARE BUSES STILL RUNNING ON SCHEDULE DURING THE APOCALYPSE? The boy was of course trying to go home to find his vampire mommy. Eph announces that tomorrow will be Bring Your Moron Son to Work Day.

Using an official Mad Scientist chemistry set, Setrakian boils the worms he collected down to a solution that he drops into his eyes. This causes him to pass out. Nora finds him and performs CPR. When he revives, he tries to brush her off, and insists that it’s perfectly normal for a man’s eyes to bleed from time to time. Nora isn’t buying it. She forces him to admit that he uses the worm extract as a kind of youth serum to keep himself going. He’s 94-years-old, but he intends to “win or die confronting the Master.” This actually answers a nagging plot hole in the show, regarding how old Setrakian would have to be if he was an adult during the Holocaust.

Eldritch Palmer’s former manservant Reggie Fitzwilliam takes the ferry to Staten Island to visit his brother. (HOW IS THE FERRY STILL RUNNING ON SCHEDULE DURING THE APOCALYPSE?) He has to go through a heavy security screening to enter the island. Councilwoman Feraldo (Samatha Mathis) gives a big speech announcing that Staten Island is plague free. She also unveils a gruesome exhibit of decapitated vampires strung up on a piece of fence that she intends to leave on display at the port, as a symbol that vampires aren’t welcome there. This draws a big reaction from the crowd. The mayor wants her to expand her war against the vampires to help take back the whole city.

Eichorhst pays Palmer a visit and scolds him for not having sufficient security at the food bank opening where Setrakian got too close to him. He orders Gabe to stay with Palmer and keep tabs on him. Palmer isn’t happy about this, but agrees.

Dutch gets all pouty about her presumed-dead girlfriend. Fet goes with her to visit the girl’s crotchety, bigoted mother. The woman is no fan of Dutch, who she blames for turning her daughter into a gay. Dutch turns self-pitying and gives Fet a blowjob in the woman’s driveway. This is possibly the dumbest, most pointless storyline this show has ever done – and that’s saying something.

Eph brings Zach to the lab and explains how he’s trying to create a vampire plague. The boy throws a tantrum and smashes a bunch of beakers and test tubes on the floor. (The new kid playing Zach this season is just about the worst child actor I’ve ever seen.) Eph forces him to look at the remaining vampire test subject to see exactly what his mother has become. I doubt that the kid gets it.

Later, Eph talks to the Master through the vampire (because the Master can see through the eyes of all his minions). He gloats about how he’s going to destroy the Master. When the vampire turns its eyes to Zach, Eph asserts that he’ll kill Zach and himself rather than let either of them be turned to vampires.

In disguise as an elevator repairman, Gus gets into the Stoneheart Group building and rides up to Eldritch Palmer’s penthouse. Vaun and a team of vampire commandos sneak in through the loading dock and hitch a ride hanging on the underside of the elevator. This is not a very well thought-out plan. Building security sees what they’re doing and evacuates Palmer to a safe room. Gus and the commandos find the penthouse empty. Palmer then activates a security measure that floods the room with UV lights. The vampires collapse to the floor, writhing in pain. Vaun tells Gus to get out of there, so he leaves… through the same elevator where he came in. That seems pretty stupid. Won’t security just pick him up in the lobby?

The episode ends with Eph and Nora testing the latest plague sample on the remaining vampire subject. It works. He gets infected but does not die. Eph plans to release him to go back to the nest and spread the disease to other vamps.

Let me ask a question here: If the Master can see what Eph is doing through the vampire, doesn’t he already know about the plague? If so, why wouldn’t the Master just command that vampire to go off alone somewhere and die, thus preventing him from spreading the disease? That seems like a pretty obvious and glaring flaw in the plan.

Is it likely that the writers will address this in a future episode? Somehow I doubt it. The plotting of this show is far too sloppy to think through details like that.


  1. T.J. Kats

    For what it’s worth I think helps name was Quinlan in the books so that’s probably why IMDB used that.

    On a separate note my wife and I finally gave up on this one. Just not worth watching anymore(ever?).

  2. Peter

    The kid now playing Zach was on the show The Neighbors, a good show that never found an audience, but every scene with that kid was cringe-worthy. I don’t want to be mean to a kid, but he is a terrible actor. I read online that the producers of the Strain replaced the old kid with this kid because there are going to be some dark story lines going forward involving Zach, and they thought this kid had more range and ability as an actor. HOW CAN THAT POSSIBLY BE? I’m not buying it. I think this kid or his management have compromising photos of Carlton Cuse and blackmailed him. Otherwise, it’s stupefying.

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