The Strain: Last Rites
Only one more episode left until the season is over and I have to wait an unbearably long time to get more of this show. The Strain is not going to end its first season quietly. I definitely get the feeling that we’re going to end this season on a bleak and depressing note. The Master’s plan isn’t even fully realized yet and Abraham’s band of misfits isn’t showing any sign of being able to stop him any time soon. This episode is packed with a lot of things. We finally get some back story on Dutch. We get another flashback giving us insight into what happened to Abraham and the significance of the heart he keeps. The Vampire Swat team shows back up. Eichorst’s back with a vengence. Nora’s mom finally dies. All in a 60 minute episode. Not bad.
Let’s start with Abraham and these flashback since this also includes my one complaint about this episode. After his mini-meltdown at the end of last episode, it was good to have these flashbacks to show why he’s become Captain Ahab. While I don’t mind it, I do think it was/is risky to have huge gaps between when flashbacks occur. The “problem” is that it opens up more questions because the audience will ask “wait, when did that happen?” I don’t mind them because I’m confident that we’ll get more flashbacks to fill in the gaps at appropriate times. In these flashbacks, significant time has passed from the time we saw young Abraham escaping the Concentration Camp with his hands messed up to now. Apparently he’s a professor now, married and part of his research is trying to prove that Eichorst and these vampires exist. I also noticed he had his infamous sword. So I’m even more certain that we’ll get other flashbacks prior to this one to show how that came about. What I really liked about this flashback is that it showed how bad at planning and thinking ahead Abraham was. He’s really obsessed with The Master and stopping them and his plans make no sense. He went down that well alone and left Miriam alone and it never occurred to him that it was a trap. The only issue I had with these flashbacks was that the makeup for Abraham was terrible. They clearly were using the same younger actor but wanted to just throw on some makeup and a wig and make him look older. I have no problem with that but if you’re going to do that the makeup should look better. It was comically bad and was actually distracting from the scenes.
Dutch came back and while I didn’t care at first, her actual plan was pretty good. This group isn’t strong enough or skilled enough to take on The Master head on. Getting their message out and attempting to warn people is probably their best option right now. Abraham’s original plan of trying to quickly get to The Master before he got too strong or grew an army might not have been a well thought out plan but it was one they had to go with. Try to catch The Master before he got too strong and before it was too late. But now that he’s relatively safe and growing in strength (as well as numbers), they need a new plan. I don’t expect Eph’s 40 second PSA is going to do much right now but I do think it could have some effect down the line. I do think Eph was the wrong person to give the PSA though. He’s just not a people person. This is the one time I think Nora could have been useful. However, I do think they made a good point that with Eph being a wanted man, this could raise the profile of their broadcast and inadvertently get it played to more people. It will be interesting see how this plays out. I also liked that we got a little bit more background on Dutch and who she is. Getting her background gave us a little bit of a reason as to why she came back with this plan. It's almost a way for her to redeem herself after she "lost her way." It's like she now has a way to make up for all the wrong she did and, I'll be honest, I kinda dug it. Plus, as I mentioned before, her plan wasn't that bad. Speaking of plans...
My man Gus. He had the best plan out of everyone so far until he got greedy. He said he needed weapons, ammo and a vehicle and that right there is the smartest thing anyone’s come up with so far. Weapons and ammo to protect himself and a vehicle to get the hell out of New York. But then his petty dumb criminal side took over and he just HAD to go down to the docks to see what was in the containers. Not going to lie, this was another minor (very minor) issue I had with this episode. Gus is pretty street smart. He just got weapons, ammo, a bag full of money and a vehicle. He just told the guy he was robbing that he was getting the hell out of town so it doesn’t matter who he pays to come after him. But then all the sudden he changes his mind to go see what’s in these containers for money? To what end? He knows shit is going down in the city. I get that he’s a “greedy criminal” but this turn of priorities was a bit of a stretch for me. Again, just a minor issue to me because it then leads to the reveal that someone is shipping vampires in (or out) through the docks. At first I was leaning towards them being shipped in, but it makes more sense for them to be heading out. Easy way to spread this to other cities, even internationally. I’m also very curious as to why the Vamp Swat Team leader picked Gus and only Gus. Remember they also took Neeva and the kids as well. It’s going to be interesting to see if they’re really here to help or if this is just some vampire turf war.
I like the idea of Eichorst coming back and once again besting Abraham. Eichorst is just such a taunting and evil man. Again, more proof that Abraham’s group just isn’t ready for primetime: Why weren’t Nora’s mom and Zach in the secure basement? I get wandering around during the day, but at night? Everyone should have been locked in the basement like Will Smith used to lock down his house in I Am Legend. It’s the small things like this that show why The Master and Eichorst are one step ahead of them. It’s good that Abraham had a backup exit but it’s also clear from the flashbacks he’s not that great of a planner. I saw a lot of people talking about how they didn’t understand the purpose of Nora’s mother but after this episode, I see what it was. She was really just there as a way to show why Abraham is so cold. Nora had to kill her infected mother just like Abraham had to kill Miriam and those two kids. So it’s not that Abraham doesn’t understand how Eph and Nora feel when Jim or Mrs. Martinez were killed, but it’s more like he’s trying to remain emotionally detached because he’s still emotional over Miriam’s death. I mean he cut out her heart and kept it for this long. This also brings up another subtle point. The reason why you have to burn/destroy the bodies after is because they can still infect people. Abraham cut off Miriam’s head but her heart was still beating and filled with the worms. And it’s survived for this long. I just thought that was another interesting point that goes back to something Abraham first told them about killing these creatures. Lastly, I’m shocked The Master kept his promise to Palmer. He doesn’t really need Palmer so I thought he would let him die. If you caught the previews for the finale then you know there is a caveat to this and I’m not shocked. At this point The Master has all he needs from Palmer. Palmer made the mistake of not asking for payment up front or at least a deposit. It’ll be interesting seeing how Palmer fits into The Master’s plans going forward.
One more episode left and then we’re stuck waiting for the next season. I don’t care what the cynical people are saying, I’ve been loving this show. No one likes Eph and Nora but to be honest, I think that’s part of the show. I don’t think we’re supposed to like them at all. Nora is naïve and Eph is an asshole. There’s a part in this episode where Nora is obviously upset about her mother’s condition and is pretty down about how she has to take care of her mother as if her mother was a child and Eph hits her with a dismissive “that’s just how it goes” and doesn’t even take his eyes off the PSA he’s writing. I think their redeeming qualities come from their scientific background and right now there just hasn’t been a need for that yet. I think eventually we’ll get back to that but right now it’s just not where we’re at in the story and that’s fine because there are other characters to focus on.