The Strain Recap: Fonescu d’État

The Strain. Photo: FX
The Strain
The Strain
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Romance really accelerates in the apocalypse. Gus barely swapped spit with Aanya, and he’s already calling her Baby. Specifically, to reassure her that “it’s okay, Baby,” even though Quinlan’s got his mitts clenched tight around his windpipe. After the two settle down, Quinlan explains that if Gus really wants to protect his new lady, he’ll let the Guptas go their own way toward escaping the city while they pursue the Master as a duo.

It’s not only Quinlan who serves reminders about team spirit. Even Angel implores the Guptas to heed Gus’s warning and abandon the family restaurant for safer terrain. And during Eichhorst’s impromptu visit to Stoneheart — a gesture that really gets under Eldritch’s septuagenarian skin (which we’ve now seen entirely too much of) — Eichhorst cautions Mr. Palmer that they ration tempers and stay on track. Turns out the Master’s none too pleased with the explosion at their Throggs Neck facility. Palmer has a week to get the place up and humming again, or else there might be greater repercussions than his undead messenger rudely interrupting a day at the office with sweet, sweet Coco.

But is Coco that sweet, or plotting some kind of subterfuge? There’s still little in the way of hard evidence, though we have been invited to interpret the occasional requisite lingering shot of her face in hard contemplation. And there was the matter of that tossed-off remark about having not felt safe for some time. Those are the kinds of visual and scripted asides that could be pieced together as cues in retrospect once her full intentions are revealed. For now Palmer will merely have to take it under advisement that keeping things from Coco Marchand means no nookie for a restless evil billionaire.

In general, whether you’re trying to save the world or destroy it, it’s best to keep an open dialogue among those in your circle. Nora doesn’t exactly warm up to Eph when he stays mum about what went down in D.C. Then again, she’s almost too forgiving when he finally comes clean. Nora hasn’t really had much to do this season, period, as Eph continues on his journey of self-destruction and discovery. Ever since they perfected the antivirus, she’s mostly bunkered down in Fet’s loft while answering the bell to blast away some baddies, particularly Kelly and her feelers. Fitting that even now, she’s fighting with Eph’s late wife for his attention.

In fairness, it was Nora who finally gave Eph a talking to about neglecting Zach and sending him mixed messages. Too little, too late, though, as the angsty preteen defied his father’s orders to avoid the creature masquerading as Mama by letting her into their house when she came a-knocking. Zach quickly realized that he erred in judgment, and he’s lucky Eph and Nora found creative ways to annihilate the Cronenberg-ian mutated blind kids (yep, a sentence one could only utter in relation to The Strain). And what about that squirrelly rascal who dove in front of Kelly and took a silver bullet for her, huh? Now, that’s loyalty.

Cardinal MacNamara knows a thing or two about loyalty. He adores a good glass of red, gets giddy over a bit of gold, and chooses his devotion to God, greed, and Rudyard Fonescu when faced with Eichhorst’s ultimatum of info on the Lumen or death. That’s right, folks: The terrified kid in that Austrian convent from earlier this season is all grown up and hoarding the essential text. But to what end? And where will Fet and Abe find him, provided Palmer and Eichhorst don’t get to him first? (Don’t worry, actor David Schaal, of The Inbetweeners and EastEnders is slated to appear as aAult Fonescu at least twice later this season, according to IMDb.)

Then again, there’s a chance that Eichhorst may be absent from the Master’s side when a reckoning comes. Palmer giddily pushes his adversary’s buttons about being his boss’s lapdog and getting passed over for a promotion in deference to “washed-up pop star” Bolivar. Granted, Eichhorst’s misdeeds are too numerous to allow for a sympathetic turn, but all this infighting between Master’s servants is catty fun and adds soapy intrigue to Eichhorst’s singular mission. And that uptight walk of his as he left Palmer’s office (whether as directed or decided upon on the spot) was petulance perfected.

All of which brings us, as it often has this season, back to young Zach, who’s come to represent The Strain’s bipolarity. One the one hand, what kid his age wouldn’t be devastated by his loss and live in a fantasy world where dreams of smelling his mother’s hair (better than Eichhorst’s fishiness) can prove prophetic? It’s entirely reasonable, though the show doesn’t always excel at communicating its humane side, on account of being busy slaying vampires and puzzling together epic mythology as a metaphor for modern ills. And, as ever, his dad is kind of a dick.

With a handful of episodes left, there are plenty of other loose ends aside from restoring family ties. For instance, can the Master really rain evil down on New York while operating under the guise of a has-been goth-rocker? Are Councilwoman Faraldo’s quarantines really working (as evidenced by Kelly’s easy trespass, nope), or is she distorting communist ideology to create a paranoid prison state (like certain rebel upstarts from history’s past)? And most pressing, will Coco become pregnant with Palmer’s baby and be stuck doing all the chores while Eldritch is sneaking off into clandestine meetings with Eichhorst and the Master? To paraphrase Abe, it’s time to get our heads out of the skirt and into The Strain.

Apart from all that:

  • Gus and Dutch really seem to be alternating episodes, huh?
  • Ha-ha, no one likes the Ancients.
  • Some very funny tough-guy lines tonight. Abe: “Yes, we’re gonna rob the son of a bitch.” And my favorite, Gus: “Well, hi, Quinlan.” They ain’t afraid of no ghosts!
  • Honorable mention to Gus’s people having “been crossin’ borders without permission since Texas was Mexico.” Touché.
  • Nice little placement for Michael Kors there.
  • No more need for Alonso Creem?
  • Grace, the daughter of wounded bootlegger Jimmy, was kind of a silly character.
  • Actually, that whole thing with Jimmy was pretty silly. Alas, now Zach knows Daddy saves lives. Mixed messages!
  • RIP, Nicholas. You were to the Cardinal what Joshua was to Palmer. Whatever that was.