This week opens with Zach (Ben Hyland) in grave peril. Kelly’s infected boyfriend Matt (Drew Nelson) has decided he would like a snack and Zach will fit the bill nicely. The newly formed vampire hunter gang shows up in the nick of time, and Eph (Corey Stoll) chops off Matt’s head with extreme prejudice. Kelly (Natalie Brown) is nowhere to be found. The group realizes they must get the boy to safety, deal with the body and try to find Kelly. Eph and Nora (Mía Maestro) stay behind at the house to handle the mess while Setrakian; Fet and Zach head to the pawn shop with the intention of dropping off Dutch at her place.
Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas) goes to her home, but this proves a bad idea as her roomie/partner Nikki has made off with her money and backup copies of her work. Fet (Kevin Durand) has to help her kill one of her turned hacker buddies, and she wisely decides she will stay with the gang. She also fills in Setrakian (David Bradley) on her involvement with Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde) after Setrakian tells her that someone powerful must be involved in the conspiracy to bring The Master to New York. She also tells him about the plastic-faced man she has seen with him, and Setrakian realizes she is referring to Eichorst (Richard Sammel). He puts the whole conspiracy together.
Gus (Miguel Gómez) and Felix (Pedro Miguel Arce) are back and still in the holding cell at the county jail. Felix is in a bad way, with the virus about to finish its work. Gus has been asking for a doctor for his injured friend, but to no avail. They are finally in a bus to be transferred to Rikers Island when Felix shuffles off the mortal coil and turns. The bus crashes, and Gus has to make a difficult decision before escaping into the night.
We also get some flashbacks this week, continuing the story of young Setrakian (Jim Watson), an uninfected Eichorst and The Master (Robert Maillet/voiced by Robin Atkin Downes). The Master knows he’s being watched by Setrakian and makes him pay a horrible price. Eichorst and Setrakian have a strange moment earlier in the flashback, but Eichorst’s true colors come out later when he does something awful. The camp is being overrun by allied forces, and Setrakian escapes. The episode is capped by an amazing moment between The Master and an on-the-lam Eichorst.
The flashbacks were excellent this week. Eichorst is a terrible person, there is no doubt, but he has an odd affection for the young Setrakian. He likes the young man but cannot like him. He is too twisted and changed by his Nazi mindset to allow for any real mercy. Sammel plays the unturned version of Eichorst beautifully. There is real conflict in his eyes, a heaviness at the decisions he has had to make, but he’s too far gone to change. He’s committed to his abhorrent belief system and to The Master.
The final flashback between The Master and a crying Eichorst is quite the scene. We finally get the full Master reveal, and it’s something to behold. I wasn’t sure about his appearance at first (he looks a little orcish and thick from the front), but the profile shots were incredible. I think it was the eyes that were most effective. Downes’ voice performance, although altered, is quite creepy, and Maillet’s sheer size gives The Master the presence he needs. There is a bit of cheese to the scene, but it still worked. Eichorst is infected and on his way to becoming the monster we know.
There are a couple of nice scenes between older Setrakian and Zach, and we get to see the more sensitive man he can be when it’s needed to provide comfort. He still doesn’t pull any punches, but he does it the right way with the young boy. It makes me like him even more. He also handles Dutch’s confession well, not overreacting, but putting her at ease when he asks if she can reverse the damage. It was another solid moment.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
The whole episode, save for Gus’ scenes and a couple of vamp kills, was a major slowdown from last week. There are spots where this worked (as noted), but I still felt it was bogged down in info dumping and character development. Nora and Eph’s little tryst also didn’t feel 100 percent right. They have a weird chemistry, and it just felt like it was in the wrong place and time. I think Nora may turn into a warrior as things get worse, and their chemistry may feel more right when this happens.
I’m also hoping Gus meets the rest of the group soon as I believe he will be a formidable vampire killer. His volatile nature will add some interesting conflict. Right now he doesn’t have much to do. The mother and brother storylines will have to be resolved first I fear, but hopefully he will join up.
There was a bit of unevenness and slower pacing to this week’s entry, but there was enough meat to keep me interested.
GIVING CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE
“The Strain” is based on the novel of the same name by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. “The Disappeared” was written by Regina Corrado and directed by Charlotte Sieling. It stars Corey Stoll, Mía Maestro, David Bradley, Richard Sammel, Ruta Gedmintas, Kevin Durand, Miguel Gómez, Jim Watson, Ben Hyland, Robert Maillet and Robin Atkin Downes (vocal performance).