Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead
For those who did not know, the super-talented Chuck Hogan — co-creator of The Strain trilogy — wrote tonight’s episode. But honestly, if he were standing here right now, I don’t know if would give him a high-five or punch him in the face. Seriously. Without a doubt, this is the absolute best episode thus far in the series in terms of writing, action, special effects, everything and I’m having a hard time thinking how it could be topped, even as we get close to the season finale. At the same time, I feel like my heart has been ripped out and stomped all over the ground. We had our first major character death tonight and while it may not have been too surprising, that didn’t make it hurt any less.
Cross Eichhorst and Get Overrun by a Strigoi Mini-Horde
We saw Eichhorst (Richard Sammel) threaten Jim’s (Sean Astin) wife last week just because he couldn’t pry Setrakian’s (David Bradley) location out of him. So, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that there is going to be severe consequences for shooting him in the leg. And the beauty is neither Eichhorst nor the Master has to do a single thing. Why lift a finger when you have a small army of newly-turned drones to fight your battles for you?
So after leaving the train station, Setrakian and Co. should have all dispersed and gone home instead of making a pit stop at a local convenience store, because staying together only made the drones’ job easier. Within minutes, a good dozen strigoi show up and immediately attack the group, with them barely escaping and barricading themselves inside. The Master’s minions calm down but trust me, this isn’t a reprieve. As Setrakian quickly points out, they are now waiting for reinforcements and unless they come up with a good plan and quickly, they are going to have a horde on their hands — big enough to tear down that Gold Star.
The good news for the team is our friendly exterminator, Vasily Fet (Kevin Durand), is also in the neighborhood and his timing could not have been more perfect. After quickly comparing notes with the rest of the group and Setrakian giving him a crash course on vampire hunting, Vasily quickly becomes the team’s most valuable player. I’m not entirely sure I would have gone around swinging metal pipes and splashing infected white blood everywhere, but aside from that, this guy is tough as nails and knows exactly how to get the group out from this shithole they’ve gotten themselves in.
So what is Vasily’s plan? It’s pretty simple, fight fire with fire. You have a rat infestation, you get rid of them by burning them out. Molotov cocktails made from cheap whiskey and malt liquor and buckets of gasoline courtesy of Dr. Goodweather’s credit card (absolutely loved Vasily’s little gesture of picking Premium!) are the team’s ticket out of that Gold Star death trap, with their barreling out of the parking lot just seconds before the entire place goes up in flames.
Besides the kick-ass rat catcher, the team also gained another very unlikely ally — Dutch Velders (Ruta Gedmintus). This character is not in the books and was created specially for the television series, which was a strong hint we’d probably see her again. But I honestly never thought she’d end up being a vigilante in Abraham’s Army. Very nice touch in an already fantastic episode. As an added bonus, she’s now starting to clue in that Palmer (Jonathan Hyde) is the one responsible for the hell that has been unleashed on NYC and so, now all she needs to do is point the team in the direction of the Stoneheart Group. I think we pretty much can conclude that Eichhorst is untouchable, at least for the time being, but I’m not sure about Palmer.
Tearful Good-bye to Beloved Character
Need I say more? This has been me all weekend. I actually screened the episode on Friday and I’ve been an emotional train wreck since then. Not Jim! Anybody but our Jimbo! I’m better than I was, but still a mess. At first, I was so damn pissed I wanted to scream. I felt like his death ruined the entire episode for me and I felt cheated. At one point, I actually came close to printing out a picture of Chuck Hogan and pinning it to my dartboard. No joke. So, so mad.
Then, I transferred by anger towards Vasily. My initial thought was Eph and Nora were absolutely right — who appointed him God and gave him the right to kill their friend? Then, it hit me. I remembered Mr. Quinlan’s introduction from last week and what I said about him in the tail end of my review:
After Quinlan examines the wound, he closes his eyes, almost as if heâ€™s saddened and a part of me knew what was coming. Even still, I jumped when he shot the girl. Poor Neeva! But at the same time, it was clear that this mysterious hero knew this disease, knew there was no hope of treatment for the girl and didnâ€™t hesitate to do â€œwhat needed to be done,â€ as Setrakian put it so many times before.
Talking about eating your own words. I don’t think it was an accident that this episode came right after Mr. Quinlan’s very big entrance. Â Vasily may be new to all of this, but he is the only one that could really see the truth. And if he hadn’t done what he did, they all would have continued to argue and probably would have died in that store. In effect, he saved their lives.
What’s more, our beloved Jim was already living on borrowed time and we should count ourselves lucky that we had him for this long. In the books, he is infected by Captain Redfern in the basement of that hospital and then dies an agonizing death at the hands of Eldritch Palmer. But he survived the attack and we got him for five more episodes. For that, I am very thankful. Â Good-bye, dear Samwise, you will be missed!
And, you know what else? Â As painful as the ending of the episode was, at the end of the day, Chuck Hogan was able to illicit fear, shock, terror, anger, and yes, immense sadness and all in one episode. Â And, if he was able to do that, then he did his job. Â Excellent episode all-around.
So, now what? The team got away, but that’s not going to stop Eichhorst and the Master. And where will they go? My guess is they’ll try to regroup at Setrakian’s pawn shop (where I assume is where Momma Martinez has been hiding out??). And with Abraham’s huge stash of weapons, ammunition and silver, hopefully they will be better prepared for round two.
The Strain airs on Sundays at 10/9c on FX.
Most memorable quotes and random thoughts
- It’s nighttime now.Â NYC is an open buffet — Jim
- Uh, I’m a looter — Vasily
- Unholy filth! — Setrakian
- This is what they thrive on.Â Panic. Fear. Divisiveness. There’s strength in numbers. We must make a plan and stick together — Setrakian
- Did anyone else recognize the white-haired guy with the pony tail? Â That was world-famous make-up artist, Rick Baker, known for his work onÂ Men in Black, Star Wars, Planet of the Apes,Â and yes, other Guillermo del Toro projects likeÂ Hellboy. Â Very nice cameo.
- Okay, who’s the fan of Whitesnake and “Here I Go Again”! Â Chuck Hogan, was that your song pick? Â Too funny.
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