The Strain Recap: Sh*t, Meet Fan

Photo: Michael Gibson/FX
The Strain
The Strain
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By this point in The Strain, you’ve likely either become partial to episodes that focus on the Regis survivors (Bolivar, Joan, etc.) or the ones spotlighting characters unwittingly but inextricably ensnared in the coming war between light and dark (Gus, the extended Goodweather clan, et al.). These story lines often feel like they’re happening on two entirely different shows; the latter kind filled with action but sloppy with secondary characters, while the former metamorphosing souls at the expense of generating momentum. But as “Occultation” winds down and the moon overshadows its rival sun, there is no more division between night and day, and assorted regulars whose backstories have served to illustrate our differences are being drawn into humanity’s singular end.

What scared Abraham the most during last week’s concentration-camp flashback was that the creature that killed his brother seemed less motivated by base anti-Semitism than parasitic lust. It was an evil whose needs superseded our own cultivated instincts to consume, colonize, and conquer each other based on sophisticated ideas of race, religion, territory, or inheritance. The Master doesn’t care that Lauretta’s a single mom making part-time cash doing admin work for the pest-control bureau, or that Bolivar’s a global rock star and his disappearance would be headline news. There’s always an Eldritch Palmer or Adolf Hitler whose ambition can be leveraged for mutual gain and undetected exploitation. Just as there’s always a servant like Thomas Eichhorst who doesn’t care what the ends are but gets off on the means.

Evil, as Eph tried to warn Special Agent Woodbridge (Josh Peace), is the vastest conspiracy. Unfortunately, when it comes to matters of unparalleled viral epidemic, most G-men don’t “give a shit who you are or what fancy medical school you went to.” Fitting, then, that Woodbridge met his demise via the stinger of former morgue man Dr. Bennett (Jeffrey R. Smith), who’s run amok in the city streets still clad in his bloody autopsy smock.

Once a skeptic himself, Eph is grateful to be back on the lam and, more important, ready to join Abraham’s army. Good thing, since the aging undead-slayer’s lost a step or two in his waning years. While off to mow down another infected household, he gets a bit shaky, drops his meds, and barely scurries back up the stairs into sunlight before a brood of bloodsuckers anticlimactically thwarts his mission. He needs Eph as much as the other way around, and it took them both their fare share of brushes with death and disbelief to develop trust. (Ditto for Nora, who, thanks to the only pay phone in Manhattan with a Yellow Pages still attached and in once piece, makes her way down to Abe’s pawnshop with mom in tow.) 

Gus has some way to go before getting back uptown and joining forces with this band of fugitives and survivors. Much as he and Felix would rather be boosting luxury cars for Nigerians or smacking Gus’s brother around, they’re currently “one story above Hell” (yet another instance in the ongoing game of “Is Miguel Gomez unpolished or does The Strain have issues writing credible dialogue for this kind of character?”) beneath St. Sebastian’s hospital, doing more of Eichhorst’s dirty work and discarding of body-bagged vamps alongside chaperone Jim. (Although, tip of the hat to Jim for talking tough with his significantly more imposing abetting criminals.) 

We know Gus has strayed from his faith, or at least been too busy pulling all-nighters transporting ancient cargo to attend mass with his beloved mother. Though in a cruel twist of fate, Eichhorst instills the fear of God in him with a demonstration of supernatural strength and further reassurance that failure to heed his instructions will result in Mama Elizalde’s swift deportation. But once Gus gets a load of Felix’s transformation into a strigoi and realizes the scope of Eichhorst’s endgame, he’ll call his boss’s bluff and sign up on Setrakian’s side.

That hubris might ultimately prove Eichhorst’s fatal flaw. In life and not-quite-death, the ex-SS soldier’s never been content in the shadows. It’s why he endures applying his human “face” each morning (except when ritualistically torturing civilians on occasion, as we witnessed early on in “Occultation”), and the reason he once stood outside Holocaust barracks barking commands through a megaphone. Even as the darkness he’s longed for casts a pall over all, he simply can’t resist the spotlight, ever the insecure bully and coward.

The Master, however, might be harder to ferret and stomp out. He’s like the ooze in Ghostbusters 2, seeping all around us, only able to be vanquished by love itself. And, hopefully, a nail gun, badass sword, some scientific intuition, and a will to see the sunrise.

Apart from all that:

Wake me up when Vasiliy’s backstory is over.

Two comments in the New York accent department: Vasiliy’s exterminator pal at the breakfast spot overdid it just a touch, and explain to me how exactly Kelly is BFFs with Rosalie Aprile?

Very much hoping the next episode starts with vampire Matt being killed by Eph, but only after a vindictive one-liner.

Nice touch with the priest zombie.

So, eclipse glasses are basically just Freddy’s Dead 3-D specs?

Felix is the worst.

I hope they have more fun with the vampires à la Dr. Bennett.

Abe’s says he’s got a new plan. See, Obamacare is working.