The Strain Recap: Die Diane My Darling

Photo: Michael Gibson/FX
The Strain
The Strain
Episode Title
Loved Ones
Editor’s Rating

There was a great bit of expressive acting in “Loved Ones,” courtesy of Natalie Brown. Kelly Goodweather has been infected and somehow finds her way to the residence of Diane, who assumes that her friend’s bedraggled state is the result of domestic violence. But before Diane even gets into it, Kelly sets her sights, and stinger, on dinner, a.k.a. Diane’s son. In the ensuing struggle, Diane gets heaved into a wall and quickly drained of all her vitals by Kelly’s esophageal protuberance. As Kelly sucks Diane dry, there’s a look of confused anguish on her face. She has only just begun metamorphosing into strigoi but, just as vampire Matt elected to lock himself in the bathroom rather than prey on sleeping Kelly and Ansel shackled his transforming corpse inside the shed to avoid feeding on Mrs. Barbour, there’s still a bit of humanity there.

Although if the Master has anything to gurgle about that, she’ll soon be by his side for all eternity, a possible heir apparent to the ailing Eichhorst. After dispatching Diane and, as we learn a bit later (and all but presumed), her little boy, half-dead Kelly stumbles aimlessly around until she hears the Master’s call. Down in the subway tunnels below Flatbush Avenue, she comes face to face with The Strain’s ancient beast, who implores her to “Rejoice — embrace your glorious fate.” And just when we thought Eph and Nora got hot and heavy.

Back at Abe’s pawn-shop-cum-superhero-clubhouse, Eph has to deliver some shitty news to Zack, who’d found his mom’s cell signal on the cloud (some hacker you are, Dutch), sending Eph on a cross-borough goose chase that led to evidence of his ex-wife’s grim reality. He opts to assure Zack that she’s merely still one of the disappeared, and they’ll find her. And they might, and Kelly might yet still be the beneficiary of any possible cure Eph can muster with his scientific knowhow, Fet’s infrastructural resourcefulness, and Fitzwilliam’s change of heart about Palmer’s misdeeds. He’ll certainly need Dutch’s prowess, as Fet at least makes clear when he rues not having access to an online transit archive that could lead them to the vampires’ clandestine whereabouts. Too bad, then, that Eph gave Ms. Velders the cold shoulder upon returning from his ill-fated rescue mission. Even more unfortunate for him that Dutch is a sensitive little thing, throwing a tantrum about how she’d rather “take her chances out there than be stuck in here with you assholes!” What a teen.

Abe, who’s mostly quiet this week, knows how crucial it is they all stay on the same page, and it likely won’t be long before he pipes in with a motivational speech. But at present, there’s all sorts of tension between Fet and Eph now that Dr. Goodweather all but banished Vasiliy’s sole shot at getting action. After all, why should Eph and Nora be the only souls who get to consummate their fears away while everyone else toils in a basement, poring over blueprints of the city? And poor Nora feels at once more removed from and drawn to Eph than ever. Lord knows she’s one infected mother in need of putting down (this will happen) a way from coming apart completely.

Lucky for Eldritch, he doesn’t need to worry about such things. Who cares about love, family, and loss when you can simply live forever? Based on what we know about the Master’s selective capabilities, it seems plausible that he and Palmer struck a deal wherein the old-timer would be a super-evolved strigoi with all the ostensible perks of vitality, without the nagging decay and vulnerability of serf vamps. Otherwise, the connection between his quest for eternal life and necessarily calling upon the end of times remains a bit unclear.

That can happen on a show where regulars routinely drop offscreen for weeks and abruptly cycle back in. To that end, where is Mr. Bolivar, let alone his assistant Ruby? Unless, along with Gabe’s manhood, his relevance to the story was duly castrated. Mustn’t this all conclude with him and his band (where are they, by the way?) triumphantly rocking out, even if it’s for a dispassionate audience of drooling killers? It could be like an epic alternative ending to the final scene of Airheads.

Maybe that’s the glorious fate our cryptic Master was foreshadowing. Or perhaps he plans on taking Kelly as his corpse bride and ruling a kingdom of evil in the darkness. But that sure would be a waste of all that light, so time for our gang to buck up and find their common cause and mission on the horizon.

Apart from all that:

  • I kept picturing Nora as Henny Youngman, urging Eph to “take your weapons ... please.”
  • Without having read the books or knowing how closely the series will adhere, I still say, particularly with the dead-mother plot in place, that Zack has future vampire-slaying leader written all over him.
  • Zack pretty much jinxed it when he told Eph, “Bring Mom back with you.” 
  • Are there just pay-phone booths everywhere in this New York?
  • Homeless lady Bria sure does depend on the kindness of strangers. 
  • So that’s where the eyeworm image from all the posters was derived. 
  • I know Kelly works in Brooklyn Heights, but isn’t Brooklyn a long way to send Zack to school from Woodside?
  • I was very glad Fet’s ridiculous rap to receptionist Laura (Michelle Mylett) didn’t actually work.
  • 1230 may be the Goodweathers’ old address, but to invoke Spaceballs (which, weirdly, I think I’ve done in this space before), it’s also awfully close to being the combination for an idiot’s luggage.
  • Sorry for those missing the music notes. I share ’em when I get ’em.