The entire cast finally wising up to the vampire menace? Actual vampire hunting? The Strain was moving a little too fast for somebody, so in "Occultation," Guillermo del Toro applies the breaks. But even he couldn't stop the vampire apocalypse from finally beginning in earnest by the end of the episode.
The major event of the episode is the eclipse, which allows vampires to wander the streets of New York City freely. Of course, eclipses are over in less than eight minutes, so The Strain has a lot of time to fill until the last segment. Most of it is spent on Eph, as he tries to warn his family about the deadly epidemic, avoid the FBI, fails to avoid the FBI, and then fails to convince the FBI about the epidemic, too.
This wouldn't be bad TV if the vampire plague — and thus The Strain as a TV series — didn't require characters to be so phenomenally stupid in order to achieve its goals. For instance: We've talked about how the CDC has completely abandoned any pretense of Controlling Disease lest some rich people get mildly inconvenienced — and that's despite the fact that Eph has brought in visual proof of deceased plane passengers running around and shooting tentacles out their mouths. Maybe you can excuse the two FBI agents for completely dismissing a terrifying epidemic a senior CDC agent warns them about because he's a murder suspect, but I still find it weird.
But what I find absolutely maddening is the beginning of the episode, when Eph goes to his ex-wife's house to warn her about said massive oncoming epidemic and tells her to take their son and leave the city as soon as humanly possible. Her response: Mild confusion, followed by suspicion this is some sort of ploy regarding the custody hearing. Her boyfriend's response: Complete dismissal of Eph's concerns, followed by suspicion that Eph has been drinking. Please note that Eph has not said the word "vampires" at this point, which would sound crazy; he's only said "epidemic." And he works for the CDC. Why does no one even consider he might know what he's talking aboit?
I can't imagine what a monster Eph must have been during his marriage that the wife would completely ignore his warning. The boyfriend? Okay, he seemed like a reasonable guy in his few scenes before, but it's conceivable he's an idiot and an asshole and his masculinity overrides his common sense and instinct for self-preservation. But regardless whether Eph was a shitty husband, regardless of whether he was a raging alcoholic, was Eph the kind of guy who would lie about a massive contagion? Would he be so cruel and crazy and manipulative that he would put his wife and son through a deception like that? If so, the wife would have seen this aspect of his personality at some point during their marriage, and there's be no goddamned chance she would tolerate Eph in any capacity. But she does, because, presumably, for all hs faults Eph doesn't tend to lie about massive goddamned plagues. One more thing: Whatever problems Eph has had, he's still been ostensibly employed by the CDC at least until a few hours ago, so he can't be too insane or he'd have been fired. So hey, even if he's kind of an asshole maybe you ought to listen to the professional disease fighter and father of your child when he says you both are in danger and need to leave NYC as soon as possible.
Or you can just ignore him completely. And that way you can stay n NYC and be in mortal danger and Eph can save you and your marriage will be rekindled despite the years of your actual marital problems, all because you inexplicably refused his advice to get the hell out of Dodge.
It's maddening and insulting, but at least by the end of the episode the sun is finally eclipsed by the moon, and the vampires hit the streets like it's a street fair full of delicious blood funnel cakes. Gus and his tubby friend are attacked by a vampire, and his tubby friend gets infected (so Gus finally knows about vampires. I think that's everybody). Eph's FBI agents try to apprehend a vampire and get themselves killed, and Eph frees himself. Vasiliy the pest control guy visits his office and discovers the few remaining workers turned into vampires, and he opens the window shades, burning them. And Setrakian discovers a flaw in his "slowly go to every vampire's house and kill them" plan, which is his bum heart; he barely escapes a vampire nest with his life, and takes a taxi home. Nora notices the vampires on the loose, and takes her senile mom to the only place she knows with answers — Setrakian's shop, and Eph ends up there as well.
Setrakian says he has a new plan. I hope it's a good one, because it seems like New York City is chock full of vampires and things are about to get crazy...
…but on the other hand, I've said to myself "Clearly, next week is when things are going to kick into high gear!" the last three episodes of The Strain. I feel stupid for saying it yet again, given how much time the show is willing to dawdle on characters making terrible decisions and non-vampire-related nonsense, but maybe? Now that a larger portion of the NYC populace has been infected, maybe next week is the week when the shit finally hits the fan.
- The massive, diabolical corporation that's been planning to bring the Master over from Europe and turn all of humanity into his vampiric thralls, who have resources beyond imagining, who have plotted for decades for this singular moment… continues to hire the surly, clearly disrepectful Gus for important Stoneheart jobs he doesn't want to do and can't truly be trusted to complete without incident. Seriously, don't assholes have other employees?
- Vasiliy goes home to see his dad, where it's revealed that Vasiliy gave up an architecture scholarship to be a city rat catcher. I would love if this was explained even slightly, but I sincerely doubt it will e. Prove me wrong, Strain.
- The Eichorst scene of him and his chained meal ticket was nicely creepy, although it looked for all the world like the dude was wearing a diaper. Kind of hard to maintain dread when it looks like his prisoner is sporting Pampers.