This review contains spoilers.
3.6 The Battle For Central Park
In my opinion, last season’s best episode of The Strain was The Battle For Red Hook. The epic human vs. Strigoi confrontation had more violence, NY pride, and chaos than a four game Yankees vs. Red Sox series. It was a stirring battle between muncher and New Yorker, and was one of the greatest victories our human protagonists had celebrated since the Master arrived at JFK.
This year, the battle gets bigger and badder as Vasiliy Fet takes the fight to the thousands of Strigoi nesting under Central Park. Fet made this discovery last episode, and this week, Councilwoman Justine Feraldo orders Fet to do what he does best. Kill lots and lots of munchers.
And there are a lot of Strigoi under Central Park. Like, there are more Strigoi than pigeons. There are more Strigoi than dudes selling pretzels or gyros. There are more Strigoi than hipsters with Fitbits. That’s a lot of Strigoi. But Fet is up for the task and is reunited with that female cop he slept with a few weeks back, and truthfully, the two make a formidable pair.
Really, the whole episode is one big action piece, as Fet attempts to get to the heart of the vampire nest and drop a bunch of silver powder grenades into the pulsating mass. There are big time Aliens references all over this episode with story beats and visuals that will take you back to James Cameron’s classic. The episode also does a good job of manipulating the viewer. After all, the humans kicked ass in The Battle For Red Hook, and we haven’t really seen Fet fail since the show began. So there he is, silver powder grenade in place, his new kickass lady cop lover by his side – with all this, Fet can’t possibly fail, right? Hmm, not so fast.
Before we get to the conclusion, I almost forgot to mention that Fet has some more assets. While Fet is underground, he runs across a group of conscripted cons charged with clearing the tunnels. Of course, this crew is made up of Gus, Angel, and those two asshole bully cops. Gus also meets a potential love interest this week. He is teamed with a young Hispanic woman who is also conscripted to clear the tunnels. Gus gets all protective over his new charge and makes himself a human shield for his new friend. The two asshole cops get redshirted pretty quickly and it looks like Gus, Angel, and their brave new friend will have to go it alone. Until Gus runs into his old Strigoi-slaying pal Fet and we have a muncher killing trio tag team that would make any muncher’s colon clench. Gus charges Angel to get their new friend to safety, and Fett and Gus go at it alone and deliver the silver grenades.
It should have been a glorious moment. Silver raining down on a humongous nest of Strigoi, burning, killing and slaying any parasite it touches. But sadly, the Strigoi were one step ahead. As Central Park is cleared, so is the New York underground. Tens of thousands of Strigoi surface to take down every police checkpoint and overrun New York. Fet and company won a battle, but while they were underground, the Strigoi started a new war. This is going to get ugly.
Eph and Dutch are also involved in this chaos. These two broken thinkers are still a blast to watch work together. The pair set up a station to examine the Strigoi communication within the ginormous nest. It’s all engineering and science until Fet discovers a book that was left behind by Eph’s son Zach. Eph and Dutch race to find Zach. (If you remember, the boy has been held by his Strigoi mother and Eichhorst all season. It’s never good when your son is abducted by a Nazi vampire.) Eph doesn’t find Zach, but he does find Eichhorst who tells Eph that he has special plans for the boy. Could that be a little hint that Zach is being prepared to be the Master’s new vessel? I’m not sure why the Master would want an adolescent asthmatic as his new body – the Master seems to prefer giants and rock stars, but hey, I guess maybe he just really wants to f with Eph. Eichhorst attempts to take down Eph, but good old Dutch steps in and gets a bit of vengeance for the torture she suffered at the Nazi’s hand last season. Speaking of hands, that’s exactly what Eichhorst loses to Dutch’s sword – a worm-ridden hand. You go, girl.
As for Zach, we don’t know where he went, but we do spend some time with him this episode, and man, is it weird. Kelly Goodweather sets one of her Feelers as a guard dog to protect Zach. Remember the Feelers? Those creepy little blind kids embraced by the Master and transformed into hyper-fast, super-sensed little creepoids? Yeah, Zach becomes a bit unhealthily enamoured with his guard monster, and bonds with it. Zach plays catch with it, talks to it, and even (shudder) cuddles with it. That can’t be healthy. It seems ‘lil Zach is becoming a Strigoi fan. It’s a very disturbing bit of business and takes things in a shocking and profoundly disturbing direction. Bravo.
So, as Zach is courting a creepy little monster, the Strigoi have attacked in force and things look grim for our heroes. We have hit the halfway point of the season, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.