I still haven’t gotten over seeing The Master’s face last episode. It looked like a bat, David Duchovny and Gary Busey had a baby and then didn’t love it enough. It looked like what would have inevitably happened if Michael Jackson had lived to be old. It looked like the dried-up mummy of The Count from Sesame Street.
But, other than that, The Strain has easily found a place among the best vampire shows on television, with complex characters worth caring about, the biggest badass to come to TV since Daryl Dixon in the form of Vasiliy Fet, and suspense you could cut with a knife. I’m glad it’s already approved for another season, and I hope it will get a third so it can adapt the entire apocalyptic story.
This episode starts off in Setrakian’s pawn shop, as Zack is looking through a collection of vintage cell phones in one of the cases. Setrakian’s even got one of the giant handset ones that 1980s businessmen carried around.
Zack finds a laptop in the shop and uses it to get on the internet to find his mother through her iPhone’s “find my phone” feature, which is the smartest idea anyone’s had all season. A point is made that it was difficult for him to get online because of Dutch’s hacking slowing down the mobile networks and internet, but as usual characters in the show can bypass that inconvenience when the plot really, really needs them to.
Zack shows his dad that Kelly is only three blocks away and moving, then tries to call her from a landline. They just get voicemail, so Eph says he’ll go get her. There’s a fantastic mix of fear, determination, and hope on his face as he makes this decision.
Nora and her mom are watching TV, which says that 23 banks failed the day before and the world banking system is falling apart. When Eph enters to tell Nora about the phone, Nora’s mom says “Is this the man you love?” in her language. Nora shushes her but I don’t think Eph understands it anyway. The fact that Eph so obviously still cares deeply about his wife seems to be a source of pain for Nora.
Nora isn’t keen on allowing Eph to abandon Setrakian’s plan to go on a hunt for Kelly, but Eph will have it no other way even if it’s likely Kelly is strigoi. He tells Nora he didn’t mean to hurt her (emotionally) the night before, when they had awkward, rough sex in Kelly’s bedroom after burning Matt, but also that he’s not sorry for what happened.
It’s actually Setrakian, the guy who’s always talking about suppressing feelings, that breaks the debate and tells Eph he should go. Nora just tells him to “Take your weapons.” Eph gives his son a kiss and tells him to try to text him if the signal moves.
We see Vasiliy with a map of the New York City underground. He’s talking about how he visited the One World Trade Center site and found thousands of rats escaping the strigoi. Although it’s not specifically expanded upon in the show,the Master chose a lair near the World Trade Center because he was drawn to the pain there.
Vasiliy says that even though they’ve found the location, attacking head on is suicide, but rats always have a back door. He bets that vamps have one too, so they need to look at all the decommissioned subway lines and tunnels near the WTC. He says it would be easier if they could get on the internet.
“Yeah, sorry about that,” Dutch chimes in, and admits to the others that she brought it down with her hacking crew for Eldritch Palmer. Nora is outraged, but Dutch says she can make things right if she can get back into Palmer’s office. Vasiliy says he can use his city credentials as a municipal exterminator to help her get in.
Eph is in the streets, which seem just to be about to break into riots. People are running and looting. He sees Kelly’s phone, but it’s with a homeless woman living in a box. She says she found it on the street but she won’t tell a cop anything. Eph says he’s not a cop, he’s a doctor. The woman softens a bit at that and shows Eph a gnarly burn on her leg. He treats her wound and he gets much better cooperation.
She leads him to where she found the phone, which was nearly Kelly’s abandoned, unlocked SUV. Eph sees a bloody tissue inside.
We flash back 32 hours. Matt is home from work, and he’s starting to strigoi out. Kelly is asleep in her bed. It looks like Matt is going to sting her but he goes to the bathroom instead. It’s interesting how variable the infection rate can be. Felix took more than 24 hours, Joan Luss seemed to take at least a day or two, but Matt seems to have started to turn the early morning after the night he was stung at work.
Kelly thinks Matt is still mad about the fight they had before he left for work and tries to talk to him through the bathroom door, but all you hear is running water and weird sounds.
“You know not talking is part of what ended my marriage,” she says.
Kelly goes to work at her school but half the kids and most of the staff didn’t show because of a sickness. Kelly tells a fellow teacher that Eph warned her about virus and she leaves school to finally listen to Eph and go get Zack and get out of town.
Kelly comes back home to tell Matt that Eph was right and she’s leaving, but Matt is well past the point of rational argument at this point. He tries to sting her and misses as broadly as he did when tried to sting Zack. Poor Matt just has bad aim. Kelly fights back and gives Matt a blow with the jar from a blender, then jams the blender attachment into his face causing the wound Nora and Eph noted in the previous episode.
This is a big mistake, as worms erupt from the wound and onto Kelly’s face. One digs its way into her eye, replicating the disturbing imagery from The Strain promotional poster. She hits him with something and runs out into the sun and gets in her SUV.
Getting a strigoi worm in your eye hurts like hell, obviously. Kelly has stopped her SUV to investigate it and we can see it crawling around in her face. She wipes some blood from her face with the tissue that Eph found, then cries and passes out on her steering wheel.
When Kelly wakes up it’s nearly night. She’s choking and sick. She tries to make a call but starts to throw up, then staggers out of her car, dropping her phone.
Kelly heads to Zack’s school. A woman is still working in the administration office and tells her that Kelly’s friend Diane picked him up. She sees that Kelly is obviously ill and leaves to call an ambulance, thinking Kelly was in a car accident and has a concussion, but thanks to Dutch the phone cuts off.
Kelly runs outside. She meets an advanced stage strigoi on the street. It doesn’t attack her, recognizing that she’s infected and maybe listening to its Master’s voice. She follows it and sees several strigoi killing someone.
Vasiliy and Dutch are traveling to Palmer’s office in the bread truck. She notes that even though Vasiliy has only known Setrakian for a night they seem to have “such a shorthand.” It’s the bromance, Dutch.
Vasiliy asks Dutch what her story is, but she acts evasive.
“The pawn shop guy is a vampire killer. If you can top that story with your mysterious background, then go for it,” Vasiliy says.
When she asks what he wants to know about her, Vasiliy just tells her that if they’re only going to Palmer’s building to borrow his wi-fi then she’s wasting his time.
“I wouldn’t dream of wasting your time,” Dutch says with a sly smile.
At Palmer’s well-named Stoneheart Group building Vasiliy tries to get in to inspect the executive dining facilities and charms the female security guard into letting him up. Or appears to. When the elevator arrives four security guards are waiting.
They escort Vasiliy and Dutch upstairs to a room where Palmer’s manservant and head of security Fitzwilliams is waiting. They’re searched and their pistols are removed.
“Use these for catching rats?” Fitzwilliams asks.
“Only really big ones,” Vasiliy quips.
Fitwilliams says Palmer wants to see Dutch, alone, and takes her to him. For the first time Vasiliy looks worried.
There’s a quick scene where Eph heads back to his house to see if Kelly has returned. It’s still day.
We flash back to 17 hours earlier. It’s night and Diane is sleeping on her couch, passed out from drinking wine. Although there are sirens screaming in the streets and a story about a series of bizarre murder on the TV, Diane has her main door open just her glass foyer door closed. We see Kelly try to open it and Diane lets her in.
Kelly is drawn to a picture on a mantle showing her, Diane, Zack, and Diane’s son who is about Matt’s age. Diane thinks Matt has beaten Kelly, but Kelly just croaks out “Worse.” Diane says Zack is with Eph. Diane’s son, about Zack’s age, comes downstairs because of the noise.
Kelly drops the picture and looks at him like he’s lunch, then launches his stinger to his throat and drains the boy. Diane tries to fight and rips off Kelly’s necklace, but gets a stinger to the throat, too. And that’s seems to be it, no hope for Kelly.
Fitzwilliams roughly leads Dutch to an elevator. He tells her he will kill her if she tries to hurt Palmer and then leads her up to the sick old man.
Palmer is sarcastic about the “absurdity” of Dutch and Vasiliy’s plan to kill him and the “audacious” ego behind it. Dutch is pissed about being lied to, but Palmer just says “I bought you. You let me.”
Dutch asks why Palmer did this. He tells her couldn’t have done it without her. Then we get into his motivations. He explains that human DNA decays as we age but can be rewritten. He describes what he’s doing as the “ultimate hack,” rewriting his DNA to cheat death, then taunts her by saying she’s the perfect person to share it with because she’s so invisible and insignificant that no one will believe her.
And this leads Dutch to land a nice solid punch on the ancient, sickly man’s jaw, which to his credit he takes pretty well.
“You’re the nothing! You!” she hisses.
“We won’t see her again,” Palmer says, wiping blood from his face. It’s not a question. Fitzwilliams agrees and appears to be taking Dutch away to kill her.
On the streets of Brooklyn 15 hours earlier Kelly has gone nearly full strigoi. She’s starting to be able to see as they do, which allows her to see inside people and see their circulatory systems. More importantly, though, she’s got a direct line to the Master and he’s calling her by name, asking her to “Come to me.” She follows the voice into the subway tunnels and she meets the Master, who thankfully keeps his face hidden this time.
“Rejoice! Embrace your glorious fate!” he says, which seems to hint that she’ll be one of the Chosen as Eichorst is.
It seems like Fitzwilliams and his security team are taking Dutch and Vasiliy down a hallway to execute them. But then he lets them go. He says he doesn’t agree with what Palmer is doing and that the security guards are loyal to him and won’t tell Palmer. But he also turns down Vasiliy’s offer to join the anti-fang gang.
It’s night and Eph is at Diane’s house, where he sees the unlocked door and signs of a struggle. He finds the broken picture.
He then breaks the number one horror rule and goes in the basement, where he sees strigoi Diane sleeping with her strigoi son in a huddle. We find out the silver bullets do kill strigoi with solid headshots as Eph reluctantly caps first Diane then the boy.
He sees strigoi Diane is still clutching a necklace she tore off Kelly during their fight and knows the worst has happened. He picks it up and bursts into tears.
Eph returns to the pawn shop. How do you tell a kid his mom turned into a vampire? Apparently you don’t, because Eph immediately commits to a dangerous lie and tells Nora he found “nothing.” Then he takes out his frustrations on Dutch and Vasiliy as they are returning, snapping at Dutch and asking her who invited her.
This starts a fight about who’s in charge with Vasiliy. Dutch is angry and leaves even though Vasiliy tries to get her to wait until morning. Zack comes downstairs and asks if Eph found Kelly. Eph blows off Setrakian’s attempts to talk about the plan and takes Zack upstairs to talk to him one-on-one.
He tells Zack he did find the phone, and that he’s not giving up. Zack unlocks his mom’s iPhone with her security code, which Eph says is 1230, the street address of their first home. Zack takes the phone to the room with the couch where he and Eph have been sleeping.
We see him looking through various family photos, mostly pictures of himself, until he comes to a saved video which leads to a flashback. It’s Zack’s birthday and he’s opening a present as Kelly films. It’s that parent trick of wrapping multiples smaller boxes in one larger box. He finally gets to a tiny box with a tiny toy bike inside. It was a joke, and the real full-size bike is on the back deck. Zack is overcome with happiness and says Kelly is the “best mom ever.”
Back to the future and Zack is crying silently as he watches, perhaps knowing more than Eph is willing to say. He shuts off video and sits still on the couch. End of episode.
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