The Strain Recap — Wanted: Undead or Alive

The Strain
The Strain
Episode Title
The Disappeared
Editor’s Rating

“There’s power in naming things,” Abe educates Zack in the back of their Wilson’s bread truck while they wait for Vasiliy (who henceforth shall be referred to as Fet, per his apparent preference) to usher Dutch into her über-hackery Gowanus, Brooklyn apartment. Zack doesn’t understand why this old man calls the creatures killing loved ones across New York City vampires when his dad keeps talking in terms of infectious disease. He’s trying to make sense of how his mother’s boyfriend, Matt, could have transformed into some kind of murderous mutant with an assaultive tongue that could tame Gene Simmons in his place. Abe, in turn, is trying to teach the young Goodweather an important lesson early, one Eph remains stubborn to absorb: It’s hard to contain and conquer an insidious enemy when you give it not only power, but an aura of mysticism. Ephraim ultimately understands this, but defers to the scientific process. Abe, on the other hand, has learned firsthand the consequence of trying to comprehend evil before you destroy it.

That readiness for identifying, dismantling and discarding of strigoi creates an instant bond between Abe and Fet — or should. The Strain’s rodent-killing badass, whose prowess with weaponry is alarming for a pest-control employee, gets a full-court press from his elder counterpart about going into war together. He is, however, still mulling whether to align himself with this kooky crew of nerds, senior citizens and computer terrorists or maintain the illusion that he rides alone.

It’s that kind of world now, where post-apocalyptic implications are sinking in for our heroes and would-be heroes. Nora, Eph, Fet, Abe, Dutch, Gus and even Zack are making crucial choices about what kind of humanity they’re hoping to preserve, the best way to do it, and whose face they wanna see when the bloodshed ends. And in Nora’s case, she’s playing ostensible power of attorney in all regards for her ailing mother, who’s been relegated to Abe’s Harlem pawnshop as the able-minded survivors go out and fight.

But then there’s Kelly, who’s now classified as one of the titular “disappeared,” having clearly gone through a struggle with Matt and presumably hit the streets in search of Zack. Fortuitously, her absence from the Goodweathers’ Woodside abode leaves an opening for Eph and Nora to cathartically sully his former marital bed (i.e. enter the bone zone) following an impromptu memorial for Jim (who really has inspired a change of heart in his once-spurned colleagues) and Matt (who doesn’t get so much as a tear as his decapitated carcass smolders in flames). Too bad for them Kelly’s no-nonsense BFF Diane (whose Queens accent, courtesy of Canadian actress Inga Cadranel, seems to come and go in the “Disappeared” like cast regulars themselves) came busting through the bedroom door just as the pair laid semi-clothed and post-coitus on the floor. 

Alas, no time to quibble over matters of discretion. As Abe warns, the Master is “nursing.” And if anyone knows the vampire patriarch’s proclivities, it would be Setrakian. Through what appears to be our final Holocaust flashbacks (a mixed blessing, as they provided some stirring drama), it’s revealed that Abe wasn’t merely stowing away that blade for Eichhorst’s backside, but had designs on offing the Master himself. What he got instead was a terrifying tête-à-tête with the gigantic, bejeweled beast (those rings tokens from prior victims, no doubt), voiced to maximum chill by Robin Atkin Downes, and a set of mutilated fingers. The next day, Abe’s camp was liberated, his fellow prisoners aiding him over the barbed wire to freedom. He took one last look over his shoulder at Eichhorst, though he couldn’t possibly imagine his Nazi foe was about to rendezvous in the woods with the Master and submit to a parasitic infection that would in essence pledge his immortal, wicked loyalty. 

Down in that snow-banked cellar somewhere in Poland, with Eichhorst drunk, in tears and surrounded by an array of candles doubling as both shrine and essential light, he and we at long last got our full, un-hooded money shot of the Master. And, as it turns out, he looks a bit like Max Schreck as Nosferatu auditioning for Pennywise the Clown. There’s been some risk throughout the past few episodes, as there is in this scene, of Eichhorst cutting a nearly sympathetic figure, but he is merely and clearly pathetic. From the moment he accepts the Master’s infection, he is nothing more than a prisoner himself, the kind of coward who would rather be interred in service to others than have to answer life’s questions on his own. He has neither self-belief nor evidence of his own decency, and cowers at the notion that even evil incarnate might forsake him. Eichhorst is a terrific villain, and Richard Sammel is almost too good at showing us his character’s weakness. 

And as we slither and slink toward the season’s final quarter of episodes, theoretical protagonist Eph better heed Nora’s thinly veiled caution about not forgetting his dagger, cause battling this epidemic amid myriad reasons to lose one’s shit will require furious strength and conviction. That, and as Fet has figured out (much to Nora’s disgust), an appetite for a la carte bologna. 

Apart from all that:

  • Anyone else see the John Connor-esque potential in Zack?
  • Abe knows his way around both a breakfast plate and dinnertime spice rack.
  • Dutch is the worst.
  • I did kind of like how Abe’s basement is basically the subterranean survivor’s version of Dutch’s high-tech hacker loft.
  • Given this show’s tendency to emphasize cosmically random encounters, maybe Sylvia’s wherever Kelly is.
  • Nice touch having Zack and Abe’s simul-sipping evoke Felix’s vampire chortle from the previous scene.
  • Time to advance Gus’ character already. And R.I.P. Felix.