I’ve been seeing a bit of scuttlebutt across the nerdosphere claiming that The Strain has been losing a bit of its edge, that there has been some wheel spinning happening and not enough action. This stuff is subjective of course, but I don’t quite see it.
After this week’s action packed episode, I believe some of the naysayers will be singing a different tune.
This week’s episode of The Stain was titled “The Battle For Red Hook,” and it was just as badass as it sounds. Seriously, the whole episode was like a movie John Carpenter forgot to make in 1983. The episode saw Eichorst leading a squadron of vamps in Red Hook while our intrepid heroes joined with the police and other Brooklynites to defend their home turf. And no, the human army wasn’t made of hipsters that held off the vampires with artisan pickles, these were shit kicking New Yorkers who were taking no shit from the undead.
Seriously, the whole thing had an urban Helm’s Deep vibe to it and was just one gripping hour of horror TV. Through it all, there was some good character moments and I must admit, a few wrinkles as well, but all in all, “The Battle For Red Hook” really was the season’s finest hour.
How did it all come about you ask? Well, last week Kelly Goodweather found where her son, that ‘lil fartsmeller Zach, hung his hat and this week, Eichorst helped Mama Goodweather return to Brooklyn in order to turn ‘lil Zach. Eichorst was also motivated by taking the fight to Setrakian as the two old enemies met again on the field of battle.
So it was Eichorst’s forces versus Eph, Nora, Setrakian, Fet, and Dutch. But our heroes were not alone as they were aided by the forces of Justine Feraldo and the NYPD. While we’re on the subject of Feraldo, does she remind anyone else of the badass version of Park & Recreation’s Leslie Knope? Anyway, Feraldo had to do more than pound a podium and give a rousing speech, Feraldo had to pick up a firearm and stand by her words. Feraldo had promised the world that she had cleared Red Hook of vampires, but that certainly wasn’t the case as Eichorst was eager to prove. But soon, Feraldo put down the vestiges of a politician and fought side by side with her cops. If we can extend the Helm’s Deep analogy a bit, Feraldo was King Theoden, a brave ruler who would take up arms for the people. Unlike Theoden (SPOILER!), Feraldo lived to tell the tale.
So if, Feraldo was Theoden, who was Aragorn? That honor would go to Nora who had to race to a nearby power station in order to restore the power to Red Hook. Without power, there were no UV lamps, and without UV lamps, the vampires had unrestricted access to Brooklyn. It was up to Nora and Fet to bring the power back online. Nora had Zach in tow so you known Mama Goodweather was standing in the way of her mission. Now, let’s stop and take stock of Nora for a second. Remember whens he freaked out when Eph had to kill a vampire back in season one. Well, Nora is no longer a woman who hesitates. Now, she is a true warrior and she was able to hold off Kelly to save Zach and get the power back on. Of course, Fet helped, quite a bit actually, It was Fet who was able to take down Kelly and he even almost succeeded in popping her head off. Bu alas, Kelly escaped, but power and UV lamps were restored thanks to the bravery and leadership of Nora.
Nora was not the only lady to prove her mettle this week. One of the more annoying storylines of the series this season has been the romantic drama between Fet and Dutch. This week, Dutch bedded down with her ex-Nicki and was safe in her GF’s arms when all hell broke loose in Red Hook. Dutch could have stayed safely in her lover’s arms, but the lessons Fet had engrained in her had taken hold and Dutch was off with sword in hand simply to help her neighbors. Nicki, the same woman who abandoned Dutch in a vampire infested Quick-e-Mart last season, took to the streets and even saved Dutch’s life. This week, the selfish Nicki found a measure of heroism. I guess you can say that Nicki and Dutch were the lesbian versions of Gimli and Legolas and that’s just all kinds of awesome.
The third major conflict of the siege of Red Hook was the main event: Setrakian versus Eichorst. I’m going to poop on this a little bit, but before I do, allow me to comment once again just how hiedeously evil Eichorst continued to be. Whenever he calls Setrakian “Jew,” the contempt in Eichorst’s voice is palpable. Eichorst really is the most evil character in The Strain because Eichorst’s evil predates his transformation into the undead. Eichorst is so smarmy and self assured that I am just desperate to see him get taken down. And Setrakian almost did just that with the help of Eph and his new sniper rifle. The Strain is relying way too much on this as of late, but Eichorst managed to slip away. Remember in the old GI Joe cartoon, when the Joes would win the day, all of Cobra’s high command would get away? Well, it was tiresome then and it was tiresome now, as seemingly every episode sees Eichorst, Kelly Goodweather, the Master, or Eldritch Palmer narrowly escape certain and justified doom. I’m not saying kill the main villains, I’m saying stop using the tease of the death of a major villain as a crutch; it’s becoming really obvious and annoying.
So Eichorst escaped, Zach was saved from Kelly, and Brooklyn was now vampire free. After Eph’s crushing defeat in Washington, it was good to see our heroes win the day and it was even better to see the nonsensical Fet, Dutch and Nicki triangle end in a celebration of acceptance and humanity as all three embraced, victorious.
This week did not feature a vampire fighting ex-luchador or a daywalking, uzi packing gladiator vampire, but it did feature some much needed emotional catharsis and we will call that a win.