The Strain Recap: Nursery Crimes

Rupert Penry-Jones as Quinlan. Photo: Michael Gibson/FX
The Strain
The Strain
Episode Title
The Born
Editor’s Rating

A long-standing cultural paranoia has come to pass amid The Strain’s strigoi siege: A popular goth-rocker is, in fact, an evil demon seeking to insidiously infect the minds and hearts of his followers. That would be the show’s ostensible Marilyn Manson stand-in, Bolivar, whom the Master has selected as his latest vessel. During a showdown with Quinlan, the newly rejuvenated lord of darkness explains that he selected Gabe on account of his loyalty. Although it’d suffice perfectly fine if Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan kept Bolivar around purely to achieve the aforementioned satire. Either way, the Master 2.0 looks pretty badass, so it’s an upgrade for both him and the host. (We will miss you, Robert Maillet.)

At the Throggs Neck warehouse that’s currently doubling as a feeler nursery, the Master and Eichhorst find themselves staring down Setrakian and Quinlan several yards away. It’s a confrontation of good and evil, man and other, fate and determination. Fet’s in another part of the building planting dynamite. He and Abe hope the resulting blast will force the Master’s eviction from his fertile breeding ground. Quinlan’s got an alternative, more direct way of handling things, and as soon as the Master taunts him by declaring, “I'll make you scream out in agony like I did your mother,” it is on. (The Master, we learn, has a history of taunting his pursuer.) Quinlan comes roaring after the creature we now assume is his father (the line about having chased him all his life was clue No. 2), but Fet’s bomb detonates, sending the Master and Eichhorst scurrying for cover and to gather reinforcements.

One wonders, though: Who was Quinlan’s mom? Thanks to his Roman Senator Sertorius — whom we encounter during an opening flashback to Quinlan’s time as the “barbarian gladiator,” which was preceded by a spell as “the night demon of Sicily” — it’s clarified that Quinlan was born of half-human, half-vamp genes. And according to Abe’s ancient texts, he’s even been acknowledged as simply “the born.” (Sadly, Metta World Peace was taken.) Whatever the exact nature of his DNA, Quinlan’s got some serious childhood trauma. Fortunately for us, The Strain is far less concerned with how its characters internalize tragedy than the ways in which they right perceived wrongs. Even luckier for our protagonists, Quinlan would rather ally with the individuals who weakened his foe than feast on their blood. Although after Fet and Abe’s little stunt in Throggs Neck, he warns that he’ll be going on his quest alone from here forward.

Outside of sporting chromed domes, Eph and Quinlan wouldn’t appear to have much in common, but they’re equally focused on single-handedly slaying a choice nemesis. After returning from D.C., where he managed to murder two Stoneheart associates (the late Dr. Barnes and assassin Leavitt), witness a friend and lover get shot, and barely escape alive, Eph comes back to the news that Kelly’s crept even closer to Zach. Fet puts the screws to our soused, would-be hero about not being there for his son, and by episode’s end, he’s vowed to take Palmer’s life.

Vasiliy’s lecture might have stung with truth, but even Eph knows to take his outbursts with a grain of salt right now. The big guy’s being a major brat now that Dutch’s girlfriend Nikki’s turned up at their apartment in Gowanus, putting a serious crimp in Mr. Fet’s plans to make Ms. Elders his one and only. Turns out the only things more explosive than this exterminator’s TNT are his emotions. (Hey-oh!) In fairness, Nikki’s pretty much the worst, and most definitely more of a liability than an asset. At best, she’s an easy cog in what Quinlan refers to as this “factory” that is New York City.

The most mysterious woman in The Strain, however, remains Coco Marchand. In what was, hands down, the series’ most gruesome scene yet, Palmer’s sultry assistant stuck her tongue down his throat like it was a strigoi stinger and he was fresh meat. But this vixen’s got something up her sleeve, and it’s feeling all the more like her plan is to bamboozle the old man and seize his empire. Unless she’s merely your typical former real-estate agent with a thing for highly suspect old billionaires who shun their right hands before clandestine meetings. Though, to Palmer, who’s been rendered a sexually inert bachelor by polio and maniacal greed his entire adult life, he wouldn’t mind being able to shun his right hand for once.

Eph might soon be able to relate. His D.C. fling is dead, Nora’s not particularly interested in his flaccid-sot routine, and unless he wants to get in the midst of that Dutch-Fet-Nikki triangle, his options for more nookie are slim. Best he keep sidling up to the bar, where the decaying world’s most judgmental dive-bar pourer will chastise you for not sipping bourbon properly as the city caves in around his four walls. But then, anyone left uninfected is functioning in some state of surreal disconnect, so why should a surly spirits-slinger be any different? As Quinlan reminds Abe, and Abe in turn cautions Zach, there’s never been much to distinguish myth or legend from virtual reality. The former have only been “exaggerations” of the truth. They are SOS reminders to ourselves, only we realize their insight too late. And as The Strain has allegorized rather plainly this season, the consequences might be beyond our imagination.

Apart from all that:

  • Coco and Eldritch were basically on a Bachelor date.
  • You’d think Eldritch would know to keep his voice down. It’s not like Coco went out for a pack of smokes.
  • Is Joshua the new Fitzwilliam?
  • Oh, Fitzwilliam.
  • Cool flashback to the Master’s circa-1800s Albanian feeler nursery.
  • Quinlan. Does not. Like. Being taunted.
  • Nikki’s gotta die, right?