The Strain Recap: Coco, Beware

Left to right: Ruta Gedmintas as Dutch Velders, Corey Stoll as Ephraim Goodweather. Michael Gibson/FX
The Strain
The Strain
Episode Title
The Assassin
Editor’s Rating

“Making choices is part of life,” Eph advises Dutch as she ruminates on whether to stick with Fet or Nikki. It’s a sentiment that would foreshadow the episode’s theme, and ultimately encapsulates so much of The Strain’s moral concerns. The people of Manhattan’s Upper East Side have made up their collective mind, and there’s no way they’ll fork over one percent of their property value for Faraldo’s protection when they feel entitled to it. Clearly, the councilwoman’s inspirational yarn about “movin’ on up” (as the mayor might put it) from Neiman Marcus outlier to key master did little to illicit the muckety-mucks’ charitable sentimentality. Alas, it’s their funeral.

The mayor, meanwhile, set off a chain of events that nearly cost Coco her life, thanks to his cowardice in standing by Faraldo and the self-delusion that it still means a damn whether he holds on to his most valuable constituents. He comes hat in hand to Palmer’s office, pleading for him to talk sense into Justine. Emboldened by the return of his beloved assistant, Eldritch bounds over to the luxury store, ready to politick for the masses and scope out this insidious renegade from Staten Island who threatens the status quo.

What neither Palmer nor Mayor Lyle, let alone Coco, could know was that Ephraim and Dutch had procured the same reconnaissance gear we used to find bin Laden, helping them do some long-distance spying on our favorite January-December power couple. Hence, when the El-Coco (as they shall now and forever be dubbed) pulled up to Neiman’s in their limo, their adversaries were perched atop a building some yards away with a sniper rifle and binoculars, prepared to take an open shot and put the old man down for good. Except, whoopsie, Eph’s trigger finger was errant, and he laced a slug through Coco’s chest instead. Moreover, he and his cohort barely made it a block at ground level before 5.0 cornered them and hauled them in.

Way uptown, The Strain’s other elderly shit-kicker, Setrakian, wound up wounded and unconscious come episode’s end, and all because of his own decision to prioritize finding the Lumen over helping Fet and Nora breaking Eph and Dutch out of jail. The three of them had been staking out the haunt of every known Fonescu citywide in search of Rudyard, who was in possession of the elusive text, as Cardinal MacNamara confessed. After breaking up a vampire rave at young Ruben Fonescu’s Greenpoint pad (on a conspicuously undeveloped stretch of Nassau Avenue, but let’s not regress into nitpicking the show’s surrogate NYC locations and how that wouldn’t be distracting were mapping the characters’ whereabouts less of a constant device), they nearly had their man at a vintage bookstore in Astoria. Finally, sojourning on his own, Abe tracked down the silvery tome under the floorboards of Rudyard’s Washington Heights home. Too bad Rudyard was waiting, and promptly clocked his intruder over the noggin, leaving him in a perilous state heading into next week.

Our fearless nonagenarian is faring A-OK compared to Dutch, however. Not that he could have helped prevent the precinct officers keeping Ms. Elders captive from delivering her to a waiting Eichhorst. It’s an unfortunate irony that Dutch’s preference to abet Eph rather than stay by Fet’s side indirectly led to her life-or-death moment at the Mayfield Hotel. We’ve seen this scene before, in Eichhorst’s padded playpen, where he chains up and tortures his most special victims. For all her poetry about how letting go of Fet or Nikki “feels like cutting off one of my arms,” she’d likely opt to leave one of her suitors high and dry as opposed to losing all her limbs to some undead Nazi freak’s murder mechanism.

There’s every chance that Coco feels the same way about retreating back to her third-floor Brooklyn walk-up ('tis worth noting that Carroll Gardens is quite nice … what would Eldritch make of, say, Flatbush?) rather than wake up from her coma to discover Palmer’s in bed with the Master and that’s why she’s suddenly up and lucid. Ms. Marchand may finally arrive at her senses, but it could be too late. It’s reasonable to guess that the Master sees a possible evil queen in hot Coco (couldn’t help myself). That is, at least, far more plausible than him acquiescing to the irksome geezer’s desire to, as Eichhorst hilariously observed, have him “release his own divine and invaluable essence just so you can continue fornicating with your secretary.” Advantage, Thomas.

The final and most curious choice enacted in “The Assassin” was Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s (along with, we assume, story editors like Justin Britt-Gibson) call to keep Gus and Quinlan in the wings once more. Not to mention Kelly was nowhere to be seen, and ditto for Zach, who’s apparently been deemed capable of caring for himself despite all evidence to the contrary. The Strain sure is a curious beast, by turns Grade-A campy fun and overscripted B-movie fare. Of course, it is our choice and ours alone to keep tuning in, and with a few episodes left this season, Rudyard and Quinlan (and, heck, even Coco) provide just enough incentive to continue donating one percent of the space in our DVRs.

Apart from all that:

  • The bonobo in action. You’re welcome.
  • Officer Stevens (the guy who IDs Eph and Dutch on the street and chased them down), played by Morgan Kelly, had a serious Mark Wahlberg–in-Departed–meets–Terminator 3–Nick Stahl vibe going on. I declare him: Stahlberg! (P.S.: If you detected a slightly north-of–New York accent, it’s because he’s Canadian.)
  • #GiveJoshuaMoreLines.
  • Those were some pretty over-the-top one-percenter clichés, what with their “specious proposition” talk and all.
  • Jonathan Hyde (Palmer) was terrific this episode. Glad he didn’t die.
  • And serious burn on Eph that, “The world will not even notice when you die.”