The Strain Recap: Family Feud

Natalie Brown as Kelly Goodweather. Michael Gibson/FX
The Strain
The Strain
Episode Title
Editor’s Rating

There was one thing for certain about this week’s episode, and it involved two people. Specifically, Leigh and Fitzwilliam. And that thing was death. The writing was on the wall for Reggie soon after he agreed to take accountability for his misguided loyalty and join the fight against his former employer. At least he got a few shots off at those pesky feelers and helped Fet, Abe, and Nora get a handle on Palmer’s insidious development plans before taking a stinger to the shin. If there’s one thing for certain about The Strain, it’s that heads will roll, and Fitzwilliam’s was no exception.

But what a shame about Leigh (played by Corey Stoll’s real-life wife/Hope Davis look-alike Nadia Bowers). She may have been a cavalier exec for a typically heinous biochem company (it’s spelled Kemerall, in case you wondered), but she was legitimately about to help Eph (ahem, Jonathan) put a stop to the Master’s plague. Not to mention that she had a way with sizing up flattering unisex bedroomwear for her one-night stands. Sadly, round two for Eph/Jonathan never got to second base, thanks to a Stoneheart assassin who’d already killed Eph’s buddy Rob (Tom Ellis) in cold blood and wasted little time plugging Lee with a few slugs and dispatching a non-fatal bullet into Eph before Eph could fire back into the guy’s skull. Got all that? Excellent. Then you are far more clued in than poor Lee, who did her best Sofia Coppola in Godfather III before muttering a muffled, “Who are you?” to her chrome-domed man of mystery.

Meanwhile, Eichhorst was summoning his finest James Hetfield impersonation by crying, “Master! Master!” with curiosity and horror as his lord of darkness rose from the loom and chose Bolivar as a new vessel. Alas, always the bridesmaid. Nevertheless, the sheepish Nazi got down on bended knee and kissed the ring, pledging unwavering loyalty to his Fuhrer du jour, even if he opted to resume his reign of terror as a garish goth-metal rock-star. Maybe the Master’s intent was further manipulating Zach by taking the form of his favorite musician, just as he resurrected Kelly to seek Zach out and get closer to Eph, Abe, and those meddlesome would-be heroes. The guy hasn’t survived for centuries and unleashed hell on Earth without a bit of cunning.

Unfortunately, he’s been so busy licking his wounds and mulling his next unholy union that he may not have sensed the presence of his own son, Quinlan. After arriving in the Meatpacking District and helping out a beleaguered homeless man (what a mensch), Quinlan heads underground for a stern pep-talk with the restless Ancients. He’s incredulous that Vaun and crew bungled their plot to kidnap Palmer, and can’t believe the other Ancients have let Daddy Dearest endure through 2015 in the first place. Dude needs all his immortal soldiers to get their act together, quick, not to mention some human vampire-hunters who can abet his cause by daylight.

Wait till Quinlan gets a load of Gus, whom the Ancients surely haven’t forgotten. After riding Angel to no avail about his true identity and battling preconceptions about his wayward past, Gus finally gets a chance to flash his heroics for Aanya when the three of them encounter some nasty strigoi during a Tandoori Palace delivery run. (Side note: Aanya’s father didn't look old enough to be her father, nor is it possible to wrap your head around him sending his daughter into the apocalypse to make drop-offs rather than doing them himself.) If Angel’s secretly longed for revenge against the bloodsucker that sabotaged his career, then it’s his lucky week.

Less fortunate is police officer Bennett (Asim Wali), whom Faraldo instructs to give Nora and Zach a lift back to Fet’s place. Naturally, Kelly and the feelers have found their way to her son’s current abode, and Bennett is toast before he can even set foot out his squad car. Surprisingly, Nora and Zach have a pretty easy time eluding mummified mama and her brood with standard bad-guy-evasion tactics like running, hiding, and blocking easy entrances and exits. When she’s finally got the two of then cornered, the reserves (i.e., Fet, Abe, and Fitzwilliam) show up in the nick of time, take out a feeler or two, and sufficiently persuade Kelly to scurry off. Damage is done, though, and not just to Fitzwilliam’s limb. Zach knows that’s his mom underneath that postmortem Jobriath costume, and he’s as good as hers.

If there’s a lingering ambiguity in the wake of “Identity,” it pertains to who’s currently in possession of Eph’s bioweapon (Kemerall? Solamente Eph?) and what becomes of its potential. Either way, it behooves Eph to discard the Jonathan Crowley shtick, if not the alter ego entirely. Boozy, predatory Eph is gross, and at some point he’s gotta pull himself together and be half as strong as his son, who’s weathering all this trauma but retains enough empathy to ask Nora how she’s been coping. What a sweet, sweet boy (damn you, all Max Charles haters!).

We’re knee-deep in season two now, and whether or not you saw Reggie’s beheading or Leigh’s homicide in the offing, we can probably all come together on one wish: the slow, painful death of that dastardly Eldritch Palmer. Anything else, even in this epidemic-driven chaos, would simply be uncivilized.

Apart from all that:

  • Hopefully Miranda Edwards’ Eve becomes a more meaningful character than Regina King’s Ruby back in season one.
  • RIP, Everett Barnes.
  • Z-Man!
  • Zach and Fitzwilliam coulda been BFFs.
  • Over 30 major cities infected. Man.
  • Eph’s bioweapon “attacks cerebral-spinal fluid, strangling the brain stem.” Got it.
  • Let’s retire Fet’s use of muncher.
  • Gus coulda been a contender, and Aanya a pulmonologist. A perfect match.
  • So, Eph’s a Sarah MacLachlan fan, huh?
  • Uh, yeah, Rob, of course General Rushing’s “down with saving this country."
  • See, American laziness will slow the Master’s plan and save humanity after all!