The Strain #3.1: New York Strong Recap

THE STRAIN -- Pictured: Corey Stoll as Ephraim Goodweather. CR: Michael Muller/FX

Given the way the final episode Night Train ended it seemed like our waiting was over. It was time for the epic payoff, humanity was doomed, the vampires were winning, all hail our worm ridden Overlords! Yet to our surprise, nothing seems to have changed… Huh?

New York Strong Episode Summary

The battle for New York City continues but the humans find themselves outnumbered and outgunned. Meanwhile, Abraham works with Quinlan to translate the Luman despite Vasiliy’s warnings, and Kelly pays Eph a visit. [x]

Protagonist Power

Eph has always been the master of poor life choices. After the events of last season, we find our brave and fearless main character, you guessed it drunk. Eph is sitting in his old house in Queens, clutching a bottle of booze and waiting for Kelly and Zach to find him. Whether Eph is hoping to join his family among the vampires or is planning on killing them, who knows. The fact that he’s sitting in an unsecured location in a hostile zone while drunk… that’s what’s bugging me.

After two seasons of constantly being reminded just how dangerous these creatures are, I have a hard time accepting characters taking stupid risks because they can’t deal. The only reason Eph can take these stupid risks and come out alive is because he’s the main character. During the age of media inspired by Game of Thrones where no one is safe, Eph somehow has gained a Survival Hall Pass and it distracts from the narrative.

We get to see Eph’s ultimate nightmare (both literally and figuratively) when he is approached by his vamped out son. Before he has to shoot Zack he’s dragged out of the dream by the arrival of the Neighbourhood Clean Up Crew. Eph flashes his ID and his visitors just shake their head and wonder why Eph won’t make use of his Clearance to live in some semblance of comfort. Not our Eph, he’s all about self punishment, pity parties and booze.

So Yeah… Evolution…

Eph spends his days at the old hide out working on a way to destroy the Strigoi. He’s completely given up on the finding a cure and spends his days mass producing bioweapons for Council Woman/Basically the Mayor/Total Badass Feraldo. Only the effectiveness is dropping. Originally it had a 100% kill ratio and now it’s only 75%.

The vampires are getting smarter, stronger and more resilient. Eph is surprised by this but I’m not. From day one Setrakian has been warning everyone who listens how quickly these things evolve and adapt. It was only a matter of time before this sort of thing happened. What are we going to see next? Vampires dressed up as plumbers or construction workers?

New York Strong

Our favourite Exterminator Vasily Fet is putting his knowledge of the city to good use leading a team of Navy Seals. The Seals go into infested areas and take out vampire nests while Fet guides them over headsets. Fet for the first time in a while, feels like he’s making a difference and is slowly figuring out where the Master is hiding.

Meanwhile Feraldo is trying to keep up New York City’s moral and maintain a positive face but even she is starting to lose control. She asks Fet if there is any way that the Seals will stay on to help them secure Manhattan. Fet confesses that he’s only a translator to them and has no real control over their orders.

Fet and the Seals are setting up for another mission when the team leader of the Seals tells him that they’re going to be shipped out to Washington DC in a few days…. You know what that means?

Only Two More Days Left Till Retirement

You guessed it. The Seals wander into a trap and only two of them make it out alive. What should have been a standard nest turns out to be the Master and he isn’t happy.

Upon arrival Fet asks the lead Navy Seal if he can go in with them, he’s more useful inside than out. But he refuses. This doesn’t stop Fet from running in with guns blazing when things turn sour.

Watching the Master pick off the Navy Seals was a cool little scene. We rarely get to see him in action and it was nice to see how his fighting style changed now that Bolivar is his meat suit. The Master has developed this new Nazgul shriek-like ability that manages to both cut out the walkie talkie communication and incapacitate humans. It’s a neat power, but we’ve never been given any hints that it has existed before this point. Maybe this is something unique to Bolivar because he’s a musician like the Feeler vampire’s unique abilities because of their blindness? Hopefully we’ll learn more about this power later on.

Trouble In Paradise

Setrakian spends all his time consumed by the Occido Lumen searching for clues to try and destroy the Master. He’s helped by Mr. Quinlan our favourite half vampire hybrid. Quinlain believes that they could draw the Master out of hiding by using the Lumen and then he could kill him. Setrakian sees the plan as too risky and won’t risk losing the one thing that could save them all.

It comes as a surprise that Quinlan and Fet don’t get along. Fet makes his dislike and distrust obvious. Quinlan for his credit takes the abuse without engaging. He’s there to do one job and is willing to do anything to accomplish it. You get the sense that Quinlan respects Fet and just sees him as misguided.

Blood Loss is Kinda Serious…

After everything that he has been through, we find Gus back at home trying to keep his Mother alive by slowly draining himself dry. This development feels out of left field and undoes hours of character development. I get what the writers are trying to do here. Gus blames himself for his vampire mother, making his place in the fight more personal. Yet, returning him to his mother and attempting to keep her feed undermines the emotion and weight out of his previous vows of revenge.

My Mother The Vampire

Speaking about vampire mothers, Zach is stuck with his. He has started to realize that maybe hes made a terrible mistake by going with his mother at the end of last season.There’s a very creepy scene towards the end where Zack helps his Kelly fix her human makeup. Kelly tells Zack that the Master has promised that they he won’t separate her from Zack. When Zack asks why she tells him because she is going to do something for the Master.

I love everything about this sequence, how it’s framed, the use of colour and the creepy fairy tale jewlery box music playing in the background. This scene is supposed to be maternal, but there is something wrong about it.

This wrongness is mostly because of Kelly.

I have mad respect for Kelly actress Natalie Brown, who does an amazing job of coming off as not human. From the way she delivers her lines to her movement, she comes off as unnatural. She’s too stiff and uncomfortable in her skin. It’s an amazing performance. 

Infomercials and Rap Videos

During the ramp up to the first season The Strain did a really great job with their viral marketing campaign. It was a mix of weird short films (in the style of American Horror Story) and found footage clips. As the show continued, things got to be a little more silly (we’re looking at you Eichorst Airbnb.

The Strain by all accounts is a pretty dark show. The videos released on youtube and at Comic Con were not.

Join the Strigoi Today takes a page out of the Airbnb video’s book. Richard Sammel having fun goofing off as Eichorst is always fun to watch. Pay attention to the fine print at the end of the video for some serious gems. And remember, joining is inevitable, and at the low cost of your humanity.

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Vamps Boom, is Chelsey’s favourite video put out by the show to date. It starts with David Bradley (Setrakian) and Kevin Durand (Fet) pitching a new opening for the show. What follows is a music video. The lyrics are clever, the actors are clearly having a great time and we get to see sexy strigoi? What more can you ask for? David Bradley steals the show with a great outro and dance. 

To Conclude:

I’ve missed The Strain. Yet I’m surprised that the full blown vampire rule hasn’t taken over. Our heroes are still infighting, society is still managing to limp on. If the Master is serious about this world domination thing he needs to stop playing with his food and get on with it already. All that being said, I’m excited to see where this season will take our characters. Will Eph find Zack? Will Zack become a vampire? Will Quinlain and Fet put aside their differences? Will Angel save Gus through the power of friendship? The only way to find out is to keep watching.

Stay tuned next week for our look at episode two: Bad White

Written by
Alexandra is always looking for the next book she can devour. She has a love hate relationship with teen fiction specifically when it comes to fantasy, post apocalyptic and failed shakespeare adaptations.

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