The upside to this week’s episode of ‘The Strain’: We learn a lot about the badass ninja vampire, and he seems pretty cool. The downside: The show’s scripting is still a sloppy, lazy mess.
The episode opens with a flashback – a way, way flashback, all the way to ancient Roman times. In voiceover, Setrakian narrates the story of “The Barbarian Gladiator,” a half-breed vampire born to a human. (How is that possible, if the show has established that a man’s genitals simply fall off after he’s vampirized? How could a vampire man get a human woman pregnant?)
Whatever the case, we see the Barbarian fighting in a gladiator arena and interacting with a (human) Roman Senator. None of that has much relevance, though. Long story short: He’s Blade. He has vampire powers but can walk around in daylight, and kinda-sorta fights on humanity’s side because he finds us interesting. He also has a pretty big chip on his shoulder regarding The Master.
Cut to the present day. Fet and Dutch are all smoochy-smoochy basking in more afterglow. She says that she’s tired of wearing the same three outfits and wants to return to her old apartment to collect some clothes and things. They hop in the truck and head over there, only to find Dutch’s former girlfriend Nikki in hiding. Dutch is relieved that she’s still alive, but Fet turns super pouty and jealous and acts like a juvenile ass the whole episode. This is not a good turn for the character, and the entire storyline is painful to watch.
Eldritch Palmer gets a status report on Ephraim Goodweather. He learns that his assassin was killed and Eph got away, but that the anti-vampire bio-weapon has been contained.
Eph somehow gets back into New York. This is not explained at all. He’s bleeding from his shoulder (because of course that’s where you get shot if you’re on a TV show and the writers want you to survive). He slaps a bandage on it and heads to a bar to drown his sorrows before returning home.
Setrakian enlists Fet to go with him to a factory in the Bronx that Fitzwilliam told him about before he died. (Relaying that bit of info is basically the only thing Fitzwilliam achieved this entire season.) Fet continues to moan about Dutch and Nikki. Setrakian gets the line of the episode when he says, “Your romantic worries have no relevance at this moment.” Or ever, really.
In the factory, they find the school bus and some corpses of vampirized blind kids that Kelly discarded. A security guard spots them, but before he can do anything, Ninja Gladiator Vampire Commando kills him. He’s spying on Setrakian. When Fet and Setrakian are attacked by Feelers (how many blind kids were on that bus?), Ninja Gladiator Vampire Commando reveals himself and storms in like a boss, slicing up little kids with his sword and machine-gunning down the rest. Hell yeah!
Afterwards, he introduces himself as “Quinlan.” Finally, we know who the mysterious Quinlan credited in previous episodes actually is. That doesn’t sound like a very Roman name to me, and his accent sounds awfully British, but we’ll just let all that go. He knows who Setrakian is, and is impressed that he managed to injure the Master. He explains that he’s been hunting the Master his entire life, which leads into a flashback to 1973 Albania that doesn’t really amount to anything.
Setrakian determines that the factory is the Master’s nesting ground, so Fet runs off to plant explosive charges and bring the place down. Setrakian then comes across the Sardu corpse, which confirms something Quinlan said about the Master switching bodies. Just then, of course, the Master shows up in his new body. One good thing about this change-up is that the makeup on Bolivar is less goofily awful than the giant looked.
Quinlan gets cocky and declares that it’s time he exacted revenge for the Master killing his mommy. (Ugh, so many goddamn mommy issues on this show.) Quinlan charges at the Master, but his timing sucks. Fet’s explosives go off and bring down a section of ceiling between the two vampires, allowing the Master to get away.
This makes no sense at all. How did Fet’s bombs, which were planted in a completely different part of the building, bring down this small patch of ceiling right precisely between the vampires? It’s ridiculous.
Cranky Quinlan storms off and tells Setrakian to stay out of his business, and that he’ll take it from here.
Back at home base, Eph wakes up from his bender and Nora patches up his shoulder. (I’m sure he’ll have full use of it by the next episode, because gunshots in the arm never have any lasting effects.) In the most ridiculous moment of the episode, little Zach is happy to see his daddy and gives him a hug. Geezus, this kid is a terrible actor…
Elsewhere, Eldritch Palmer finally gets laid when his assistant Coco gets tired of waiting and aggressively seduces him. This is something we’re supposed to care about, as if old man sex was an important element missing from the show all along.
The episode ends when Eph returns to the bar and finds Fet there, sulking about his love life. Eph announces that his new plan is to kill Eldritch Palmer. I get that he blames Palmer for trying to kill him and ruining his bio-weapon plan, but will assassinating him really accomplish anything?
More important question: How has another episode gone by with no one killing Zach yet?