The title of this week’s episode of The Strain (and fear not, it was mostly a good one) was “Intruders,” which was rather appropriate. First off, the big climax of the episode dealt with Kelly Goodweather and her Feelers busting into the sanctity of Setrakian’s home in order to find and turn ‘lil sullen Zach. Second, the real intruder was the ponderous romantic drama that plagued our characters.
First, we had the troubled romance between Nora and Eph. Yes, Eph had to sleep his way to the top in Washington in order to get his cure into the right hands. Yes, while Eph was downing martinis and bedding down with a beautiful politico, Nora was risking her life and limbs protecting ‘lil Zach and his “I Just Spelled a Fart” face. And yes, the woman Eph was sleeping with died at the hands of Eldritch Palmer’s men leaving Eph helpless to deliver his vampire killing virus.
There was a great deal of drama going on, but Nora’s reaction of jealousy just didn’t ring true. I appreciate a little romantic trouble as much as the next recapper but, Nora, listen hon, the world is like a smidge away from being plunged into darkness, can we be the jilted lover later? Remember, Nora once was the other woman in the pre-vampire days, so it was delicious bit of irony when Kelly and the Feelers came a calling. Here was Eph’s first jilted lover and she wanted her visitation rights!
While a nice little action piece, Nora’s home invasion was where some character progression went off the rails. These past few weeks, ‘lil Zach was coming to terms with his mother’s horrific transformation. He was bonding with Nora, Fet, and Setrakian, and even was more accepting of Eph, but this week, the second Zach saw his mother scratching at the door, he let her in. Familial love is the most powerful bond in the universe, but Zach saw just how inhuman Nora truly was when Mama Goodweather cornered Zach in the church a few weeks back. Hell, Zach even saw one of the Feelers sting Fitzsimmons. Having ‘lil Zach let Nora into the sanctity f Setrakian’s liar did not make Zach seem like a conflicted son trying to find a last gasp of love from his fallen mommy, it made him seem like a dummy and it bellied all the character progression Zach has made these past few weeks.
I must say though, Kelly had some nice character moments this week as well. The scene with Eichorst applying makeup to hide Kelly’s vampiric features was creepy as hell and the scene where Kelly had to pretend to be human to get past a police blockade really allowed Natalie Brown to flex her acting muscles.
As for the rest of our cast, Setrakian and Fet continued to look for the mystic book that holds the secret that will destroy the Master. I dig the way half the cast is turning to science to try and find a way to end the vampire plague while the other half looks to old world mysticism. But, dear God, the search from this McGuffin of a book has seemingly been going on forever. This week, the search brought Fet and Setrakian to a corpulent, corrupt Cardinal who was trying to broker a deal for the book. Eichorst was on the trail of the book as well and things got dicey for everyone. Of course, Eichorst did not take kindly to the competition and violently dispatched the Cardinal but not before the holy man found a bit of redemption by telling Setrakian where the book might be found. Eichorst continued to be deliciously vile and remains a pleasure to watch repellently eat scenery week after week.
I also continue to enjoy the bond between Setrakian and Fet. Last week, Fet poured his heart out to Eph regarding his jealousy over Dutch and her returned girlfriend Nicki. Eph was a generous ear, ready to support his friend during his time of heartbreak. Setrakian, old school as he is, wanted none of it and told Fet to get his head out of Dutch’s skirt. Truly some relationship advice from an old school pimp. All joking aside, what Setrakian’s advice did was allow Fet to focus on doing what he does best, being the coolest vampire hunting exterminator ever.
While the romance stuff between Nora and Eph fell flat, there was some compelling romance in the air between Gus and the doe eyed Aanya Gupta. It looked like after losing his best friend, his brother, his mom, and his gang of vampire vigilantes, Gus finally found a place where he belongs. E, along with the former Angel de Plata, convinced the Gupta family that leaving New York was the right thing to do. Gus and Angel were to be their protectors and Aanya and Gus even shared a kiss. Things were finally going Gus’s way until Quinlan showed up and recruited Gus as a soldier against the Master. Of all the character in The Strain‘s ever-growing ensemble cast, Gus is truly the noblest. In his heart, Gus desperately wanted to go with Aanya but he knew, to truly save his new love, he would have to end the vampire threat at its source. So Gus did what a hero does, he put the needs of others first, and followed Quinlan, leaving any chance of his own personal happiness aside. In doing so, he won Quinlan’s respect, probably not an easy thing to do considering Quinlan has literally witnessed centuries of human behavior.
Eldritch Palmer’s going-nowhere storyline with Coco continued as the two now are officially bedding down. Palmer did have a fabulous interaction with Eichorst this week where he mocked the Nazi vampire for not being chosen as the Master’s newest vessel. Methinks now that Palmer has something to lose, namely Coco, he should probably not give a man like Eichorst any reason for seeking vengeance.
So the romance stuff mostly fell flat (except for Gus and Aanya, we’re rooting for you, you crazy kids), but there was enough meat on the bloody, gristly bone of The Strain to still please.