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The Strain “Night Train” 

Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/FX
Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/FX

[Spoilers ahead for the finale. DO NOT READ if you do not want to be spoiled.]

Before we begin, let me just clarify that I have not read the books, so I’m going to discuss the finale within the context of the show.

That out of the way–Effing Zack, man. That was my primary takeaway. I realize that’s hardly PC, but that’s what I felt. It was less important to lose him than to lose Nora, and to lose her because she hesitated based on her bond to him was just UGH. We knew going in that the stakes in this episode were super high–how could they not be? They’re past trying to stop the Master as a singular being and instead faced with stopping an entire movement. MUCH larger scenario. And to date, the primary core cast have come through physically unscathed. So we were due. I didn’t really know who it would be, and there was a hilariously throwaway “I’ll be right back,” from Eph that immediately made me cackle with thoughts of Scream.

When Setrakian and Fet go fetch the Occido Lumen and are faced with Eichorst instead of Palmer, the setup is there for Eichorst to unleash his inner Strigoi and Fet to start swinging. Alas, we only get a shout down among all three, including a sing-songy Eichorst telling Setrakian that the Master wants him turned not dead so he can become the thing he most hates. Charming. And Fet tells Eichorst exactly how he’d maneuver his rebar if they didn’t have an audience. It was unclear if Reemes knew exactly who had wandered into his bidding war.

Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/FX
Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/FX

On their way out, after they’ve won and are on their way home, Setrakian admits he plans to keep the book, and Fet is amused that they’re going to try, but more hurt that he wasn’t looped on that all along. It becomes moot fairly quickly when Eichorst unleashes a swarm of Strigoi on them and they make their escape after Quinlan and Gus arrive with the cavalry.

The conclusion there is that Setrakian and Gus face off, and then Quinlan arrives, and Setrakian sets Quinlan straight that while he may wat to destroy the Lumen, it is a much more powerful tool if used as bait for the Master. Quinlan sees the logic, and we close with their ragtag merged team–Angel, Quinlan, Gus, Fet, and Setrakian—sailing down the river in a scene bathed in blood red. It really is a beautiful shot.

Fet gets the line of the night, when Setrakian tells him he’ll need time to decipher the book with:

“We’ve got a stolen book on a stolen boat…sailing down a river. We have no idea where we are going. Mexican gangbangers and a half-breed Strigoi on board. The Ancients and the Master are after us. I’m sure we’ve got plenty of time, Professor.

Then we fade to voiceover as Setrakian talks about his lifelong mission to defeat the Master and the Strigoi and their plans for humankind, which plays out over a still shot of the uber creepy processing plant that Eichorst has specially outfitted. I’m really very OK if we never see that in practice next season.

While all that is unfolding, Eph, Nora, and Zack head down to the train station, and as luck has it, they’re on the last train out of New York. After waiting a precious long while, Eph heads down to get food and drinks, Before they board, he apologizes again to Nora and essentially asks him for another chance and she shuts him down, leaving him out in the cold, but firmly in the friend zone, because there is an apocalypse, after all. Just down the tracks, we see Kelly lurking in the shadows, eyeing Zack, who sits nearby.

Once the train finally pulls out, it runs headlong into another swarm of Strigoi standing on the tracks and derails. Eph frantically tries to get back to Nora and Zack while they arm up and get off the train. They’re navigating the tunnels when Kelly turns up. Further back, Eph fights off a handful of Feelers. Nora gets the upper hand on Kelly with some significant wounds, and just as she’s about to take her head, Zack screams out at her to stop, and she hesitates, and Kelly whips up and clamps down on her wrist, crushing it as she infects her. Zack screams out and Kelly turns to him.

Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/FX
Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/FX

He runs into her arms while Nora cries in pain off screen. Then Kelly takes Zack and off they go. Eph finally reaches Nora, and his immediate concern for where Zack is is replaced by terror and grief when Nora lights up her face and the worms are everywhere. He says they can manage it, he can figure it out. She says she would come for him and Zack, that she can already hear the Master’s voice. She says it’s too late.

“You’re always late,” she tells him. “Don’t leave me,” he begs. She tells him quietly, “It’s done,” and then she stretches her right arm out, holding her sword, and touches the third rail of the train track, electrocuting herself while Eph screams. It’s another beautifully filmed sequence that reminded me of the Quickening shots from Highlander. When she falls dead, he lies down next to her and puts his arm around her and weeps. When daylight comes, he emerges onto the empty streets of New York, a new mission ahead.

Up in the penthouse at Palmer Industries, Eichorst comes calling after Palmer withholds his funds, at Coco’s suggestion. They both assert there will be new terms to their access to “the white,” and then the Master swoops in, and Palmer pops off at him. The Master evaluates the scene, says the terms are unchanged, and then he kills Coco. Eichorst gleefully tells him she will love someone else now. Palmer assures that won’t happen when he removes her heart–similar to Setrakian’s wife.

As I understand it from the books, Nora was there at the end game, so this is a huge game changer for how closely the series will follow the books. I’m very curious about why that change happened. And if that’s where they were going, why did she have to be cuckolded by Eph in DC in the first place? Is all of that supposed to nudge Eph toward being the killer he needs to be? Personally, I don’t see Zack as a great motivator, but maybe we’re supposed to trust that he is.

Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/FX
Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/FX

I like that Quinlan and his merry band are now aligned with Fet and Setrakian. That totally works for me. I did laugh at the fakeout that Gus blew up with the truck. I also sort of wondered with the sweet goodbye scene among everyone at the loft whether the loft was done as a location. I’m guessing that’s a yes now. It was sweet that Setrakian was begrudgingly emotional at saying goodbye to Zack and Nora, if not Eph. He will feel her loss, too. And I do love that Fet is always, always protective of Setrakian.

In all, it was a solid finale. Nora’s death scene has stayed in my head since I screened the episode Friday. I’m sorry to see Mia Maestro go. I really liked her here. And with Dutch maybe gone/displaced, we’ll need another shot of feminine strength alongside Justine, so I hope Dutch finds her way back. I don’t traffic in spoilers, so I’ll find out when next season arrives.

If you missed the finale, or any episode of The Strain‘s second season, you can catch them online at FX.

See you next summer! Thank you for reading!

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