Last week, we got to experience Eph’s Hitchcockian train ride to Washington. This week, his time in the nation’s capital was just as danger fraught. The Strain played a bit of a trick in “Identity” as I totally thought that Eph’s Lando-like pal Rob Bradley would betray him in classic Cloud City like fashion. Bradley was a hard drinking, womanizing, slimy opportunist. In other words, he made for the perfect political ally.
All this political wrangling and martini drinking had some pretty high stakes as Eph did indeed have the cure to the vampire plague in his hands, he just needed a means to disperse it. Eph’s time in Washington also allowed us to see what was happening outside the confines of New York City as the public in Washington were still going about their daily business, relatively ignorant to what was happening in the Big Apple. We got to see how the media was covering the epidemic and how Palmer was using the media to deliver false information to the rest of the country.
But Eph had some political allies. In addition to aforementioned Bradley, Eph also met Leigh Thomas a clever politician who promised to get Eph in front of the powerbrokers he needed. Unfortunately, this all came with a price as Eph had to sign the rights to his cure over to the government. They say politics make strange bedfellows, but there was nothing strange when Leigh and Eph bedded down and made a little scientist on politician whoopee. Eph seemed to have everything in hand. The Master was preoccupied with his rebirth in Manhattan. The right people were finding out about Eph’s cure, and his politicking was working brilliantly.
The Lando-like Bradley didn’t even betray Eph like I thought he was going to. Whether Bradley was true blue or not, we will never find out because when Eph returned to Bradley’s digs by episode’s end, he found his friend murdered. Eph is a dangerous man to love as proven by the current undead condition of Kelly Goodweather. Now, Leigh, brilliant and vibrant Leigh, who played the political game as brilliantly as Eldritch Palmer his own damn self, was gunned down in front of Eph by a mysterious assassin. Eph managed to take down the assassin, but not before his only two political allies were murdered in front of him. Now, Eph was alone in Washington with a price on his head and a bullet hole in his shoulder.
We also learned Eph was a bit of a pimp. As Nora was taking care of his son in NYC, Eph was sleeping around Washington. Yeah, he needed Leigh to help spread the word about Eph’s cure, but he really took to her bed with a kind of immoral gusto. Eph was in no way a typical hero. He does the right thing, but he does them… I think sideways is a good way to put it. He fights evil, but he fights it while half in the bag, a bottle of booze never far from his hands. He tried to spread his cure around Washington but he enjoyed playing the cloak and dagger political game that involved drinking, dining out, and lots and lots of sex. Eph was not afraid to F his way to the top. Meanwhile, the woman who he was loathe to leave behind in New York was doing everything she could to protect his kid.
And protecting Zach wasn’t easy. Yeah, Nora had police protection courtesy of their new political pal Justine Faraldo, it was just too bad that they were protected by the single dumbest police officer in the tri-state area. Old window licking Barney Fife hit a pedestrian in his cruiser. Now, what does dummy do? Does he think, “Crap, I hit a vampire, because you know, vampire plague,” and get the heck out of there? No, old TJ Hooker gets out of his cruiser, with Nora and Zach in the back, and tried to help the stricken pedestrian WHO WAS CLEARLY A BALDING, PALE WHITE VAMPIRE! So good old Serpico was taken down and Nora and Zach were in deep shit and it wasn’t just any vampires after them, no, it was Kelly Goodweather and her Feelers. Nora ran into a church and smartly evaded Kelly and her brood for awhile but she needed help.
Meanwhile, Setrakian, Fet, and their new ally Fitzsimmons were still trying to track down the book needed to take down the Master. Fitzsimmons gave Setrakian some insight on his old boss Eldritch Palmer but their gathering was interrupted by a desperate call from Nora. Setrakian and the gang sprung into action and kicked some Feeler ass once they arrived at the church. Nora was doing a very good job keeping the always sullen Zach safe while Eph was sleeping his way to a cure in Washington. Nora had to survive the Fellers, and I know I’ve said this in previous weeks, but goddamn are they scary — little chattering little creepy kids, just climbing walls and ripping throats. Fet and Setrakian managed to take out a few Feelers but not before Fitzsimmons got stung.
Well, that didn’t last long. One wonders why Fitzsimmons was dispatched so early. It felt like there was a confrontation with Palmer coming, but I guess we are midseason now. Someone had to go to remind the audience just how high the stakes were.
Speaking of stakes. Setrakian is going to need a big one because the Master returned this week. If this week’s theme was betrayal–the betrayal Eph faced in Washington, the betrayal of Nora as Eph slept around–then even the vampires were not immune to betrayal. The Master was dying and needed a new body. Eichhorst lived for the Master and was willing to give his Nazi body as a vessel for his beloved Master. He desired it in a rapture, religious sort of way. Every vile moment of Eichhorst’s existence came down to this moment. No one wants to ascend to godhood without a witness, so Eichhorst brought former rock star, now dickless vampire Gabriel Bolivar to observe his moment of glory. The Master rose, thanked Eichhorst for his loyalty, and then chose Bolivar to be his new vessel! Eichhorst stood, heartbroken as everything he desired was transferred into Bolivar. Now, the sight of a lip quivering, heartbroken Nazi was glorious but it was also a terrifying scene as the essence of putrescence was transferred from Master to rockstar. Now, the Master had a new vessel, a strong vessel, a vessel that would allow him to take the fight to Setrakian. The new Master told Eichhorst that he still needed him by his side and the Nazi seemed appeased (pouty but appeased), but now, our heroes have to deal with a Master arisen.
So it’s a good thing they might soon have a luchador by their side! That’s right: Angel de Plata was back this week! Gus was still going through hero worship much to Angel’s annoyance and the former grappler didn’t want a former gangbanger hanging around the lovely Aanya Gupta. But Angel was happy to have Gus around when the trio was attacked by some roaming vamps. Gus kicked some ass and Angel developed a grudging appreciation for the badass vampire slayer. Please tell me Angel is eventually going to give Gus the Angel de Plata mask and Gus will become Angel de Plata Jr. And then the master can recruit La Parka and the Villanos and then… OK I’m taking this too far, I’ll chill.
But before I go, I would be remiss in not mentioning the arrival of our badass vampire with the bone sword. A vampire who had the undead stones to stand up to the Ancients and call them out on letting the Master’s plan get so far-a vampire who seems like he will make a major impact moving forward.