Holy @#$%, Things Are Actually Happening on The Strain

I know! It sounds crazy! But some major things are finally going down—interesting developments even, that should affect the show’s status quo for the rest of its lifespan—and it’s only taken us until nearly the midpoint of the show’s second season! Whee!

When we left the beautifully bald Eph last episode, he had just arrived in DC with nothing but plans for a bioweapon to destroy the vampires in his pocket and an indeterminate drinking problem. He wants to somehow get the vamp-virus made and the National Guard to distribute it in order to save Manhattan, and hopes to look up his Justice department buddy Rob for help. Despite Eph going under an assumed name and being wounded, Rob is happy to agree and sets up a meeting with Lee Thomas from Generic Big Company (I promise you, the name’s not important).


In a complete turnaround from standard Strain operating procedure, Eph accomplishes this in about 48 hours despite being a dude pedaling an untested bioweapon to be dropped on NYC while under an assumed name. Yes, neither Generic Big Company nor the National Guard seem to have any problem accept Eph’s word on face value, nor do they do any diligence in even looking him up on Facebook. It’s completely absurd, but it’s absurd in a way that moves this plot forward quickly, and I shed a happy tear when I realized Eph was Getting. It. Done.

Of course, you don’t need to know that The Strain was renewed for season three to guess that there is a small hitch in Eph’s plan, which is to say his buddy Rob and Lee are assassinated in front of him, and only the fact that the assassin very stupidly doesn’t think Eph may be armed allows Eph to kill the killer. After a briefly look on the assassin’s phone, where he has carely made The Stoneheart Group listed as a contacted complete with the official company logo as its profile picture (this is not a particularly good assassin, you guys), Eph flees. I’m guessing the rest of his plan is likewise messed up, but maybe we’ll get more Mr. Goodweather Goes to Washinton next week.

Lest you’re concerned that ”Identity” is set at a breakneck pace that you can’t possibly keep up with, let me assure you that you will somehow manage. The episode intersperses this with Eldritch throwing a hissyfit at Eichorst because the Master won’t see him, Gus finally gets Angel to admit he’s the luchador wrestler the Silver Angel (it takes several scenes), and, as has taken two full episodes of development to get to, Fitzwilliam helps… by telling Setrakian and Fet about some industrial areas that Eldritch Palmer has purchased and is developing with Eichorst in some manner. He doesn’t know how.


If this sounds like virtually no real help at all, well… you’re right. Honestly, I feel like The Strain is trolling me specifically with this glacier-like Fitzwilliam nonsense. It doesn’t help that Fitzwilliam dies in a vampire fight when Nora and Carl’s Jr. are attacked by Kelly and a couple of her spider-babies in a church, meaning his arc—where he was asked to help, decided to help, and then helped by introducing a new plot element with no context whatsoever—which somehow needed to take place over three goddamned episodes—has come to a close. At least it’s a pretty good action sequence, mainly thanks to the continued creepiness of the spider-babies.

However, the episode ends with the biggest gamechanger since last season’s finale. Eichorst brings ex-goth rocker Gabriel Bolivar to the basement where the damaged Master is chilling in a back of the dirt of his homeland. Eichorst thinks the Master is going to choose him to receive his vampire communion sacrament; instead, he is quite taken aback when the Master chooses Bolivar’s face to vomit worms at. (Seriously, Eichorst’ look of shock and sadness is hilarious). But Eichorst feels better when the Master’s voice, now speaking through Bolivar’s much less goofy vampire body, tells Eichorst and I quote, “You’re my special child.”


So the Master is in a new body, kind of making a new antagonist, and one presumably at full power. If nothing else, it should be way easier for the show to put the less special-effect-laden Bolivar-Master on screen, so he should be more formidable in that manner, if nothing else. Plus, as Eldritch alludes to during his hissyfit with Eichorst in one of those mysterious industrial areas Fitzwilliam clued the gang into, “Phase 2” is starting tomorrow.

Could more things happen in next week’s episode? I don’t know! It seems so crazy, but I kind of think they might, guys! As long as Gus and Angel are kept completely separate from the main plot, hopefully the excitement won’t get too much for us.


Assorted Musings:

• Oh, Quinlan (who hasn’t been named yet in the show, I don’t believe! Two episodes and counting!) visits the Vampire Elders, and basically tells them they’re dumb-dumbs for a few minutes. It’s pretty satisfying which is good, because he does nothing else in this episode.


• Quinlan can also completely walk around in the day. Hood of his hoodie down and everything. He doesn’t even smoke. Is their something special about him, or has The Strain completely stopped giving a crap about this? I honestly don’t know. I would have assumed the former, but then Quinlan tells the stupid Vampire Elders he needs human hunters who can walk around in the day, which seems completely unnecessary since we’ve literally seen him walking around in the day just fine.

• Eph is happy to get drunk with Lee when Generic Big Company agrees to make the vamp-virus in celebration, but he also turns down several drinks during his DC trip in order to “stay sharp.” Could Eph really just be a heavy drinker who is fully functional and doesn’t actually have an abuse problem? It doesn’t seem likely, but seriously, his drinking has caused zero problems since he began drinking again in season one.


• Setrakian beheads Fitzwilliam before he can even finish his sentence. Setrakian doesn’t have time for this crap.

• Which is more absurd: 1) That an Indian restaurant is still doing delivering during a vampire apocalypse? 2) That a father would send out his own daughter to deliver take-out food during a vampire apocalypse? Or 3) that the daughter would literally point out to her father that there’s a vampire apocalypse going on, and the father doesn’t care and demands she take it anyways?


• That said, $99.75 (including $50 delivery) seems pretty reason for two decently sized bags of food, all things considered.

• New York City actually looks a little apocalyptic in this week’s episode; there’s a burned out car, people running around in the background, and a more general sense of chaotic abandonment. This is undermined by the homeless dude who watches Quinlan get out of his van (and, I must remind you, into a very pleasant day). Look, vampires, I don’t want to tell you your job, but if you can’t manage to eat the people who literally spend their evenings asleep on the streets, you need to take a serious look in the mirror. You know, metaphorically speaking.


• I’m writing this Sunday night, before I look for the episode’s stills on Monday morning. Before I go to bed, I would like to pray that one of them includes Eph angrily wearing a woman’s bathrobe. [Morning Morning Update: Where FX failed, CAricHanley came through. Thank you!]

Contact the author at rob@io9.com.


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