A major character dies this week on ‘The Strain’ as the show moves into a full blown horror movie as the team gets trapped in a gas station on the run from horde of vampires….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
The latest episode of ‘The Strain’ marked the most action packed hour of the series thus far and with that comes a little less explanation of the story because there’s no real need in doing a play-by-play for a humans versus vampires battle, but there were also some big moments this week, an ultimate team-up, not to mention the death of a major character.
When last we left our vampire hunters, Abraham had a face to face encounter with his tormentor Eichorst and just when it looked like things were about to take a major turn for the worse, Ephraim shows up and wings the German with a silver bullet straight to the leg. He runs away and literally catches a train and that’s where we pick up this week.
Have You Seen the Light?
Following their close encounter with Eichorst in the subway tunnel, the team realizes they need to get back to the surface and find some additional weapons to combat the vampires with before they turn into a late night snack. Abraham also informs them that since they harmed Eichorst, the Master will undoubtedly strike back at them in some way, shape or form and probably in a hurry.
The one weapon that the team universally knows that kills these vampires is sunlight, but after a day spent with the eclipse and now it’s night time, the sun is in short supply except — Ephraim suggests going to a medical supply company and picking up a pile of UV lamps, which create the same kind of rays as the sun thus turning the vampires into crispy critters.
When they arrive at the store, no one is home so they break in, but suspiciously there’s no alarm. A few noises and jumpy scares later and Ephraim, Nora, Jim, and Abraham finally run into the most bad ass exterminator this side of the Ghostbusters — Vasiliy Fett (I missed him last week). It seems after his encounter with an office full of vampires that were dusted off by some good old fashioned sunlight that he had the exact same idea as our room full of scientists. Vasiliy isn’t going to give up the weapons easily, but he finally folds and decides to give the team six lamps while he takes the other six.
When they get back outside, Ephraim, Jim and Nora head to a convenience store across the street to get food and supplies while Abraham sticks behind to have a chat with Vasiliy. It’s clear to the age old vampire hunter that Vasiliy has just the kind of goods this battle will need. He’s fearless, smart and very capable so Abraham sets off trying to recruit him, but Vasiliy is ready to go at this battle alone. Well that is until a horde of vampires start bearing down on them and they have to fight them off as a team. As Jack Shephard used to always say “live together, die alone”.
Trapped in a Gas Station (Sung in your best R. Kelly voice)
The vampires are getting to be too many to fight off, so Abraham and Vasiliy retreat into the gas station/convenience store with the others. Amidst the fighting, Jim has the good idea to plug in the UV lamps to help fight off the horde of the undead, but in the middle of frying one of the bloodsuckers, he gets nicked by one of the tentacles swooping out looking for his neck.
The group gets back inside where they are met by a really obnoxious store clerk, who demands they pay for everything they are stealing or using under his watch. He has a gun, but he’s locked inside a bulletproof cage, which means firing in there would likely spell his own death so he’s not exactly the brightest light bulb on the Christmas tree. Also in the gas station are a bread truck driver and two girls — one of which is the pretty blonde named Dutch, who just happens to be the person responsible for hacking into the internet and basically rendering everybody in New York to the point where they are living in the 80’s with no credit card machines, no cell phones and no internet.
She tells her friend she’s the one responsible so in turn the chick runs out of the store and darts past all the vampires like she’s playing hop scotch and that’s when Abraham realizes what’s really going on here. The Master has sent his minions to go after them following Eichorst taking a bullet. He predicted revenge would come sooner rather than later and here it comes full force.
A couple other nuggets Abraham lets loose here — first, the Master is connected to every vampire, he can see what they see. Two, vampires have a class system just like anybody else. There are the highly evolved vampires like Eichorst, who the Master has chosen to be his special few and then there are the masses of vampires who basically run around in a blood-fueled frenzy all night long.
Meanwhile, Jim scrubs out that scratch he received but when he gets under the UV light they see one of those creepy white worms wiggling just beneath the skin. Ephraim decides to operate to save his friend so they get together a MacGyver surgical kit (although no duct tape so I was kind of disappointed) and they cut him open and yank out the worm. They burn it under the UV light so all is good with the world again. Maybe Ephraim’s plan to save the world by science is working after all!
Well, not so much.
A few minutes later when Jim gets back under the UV lamp, they spot another worm and then when he lifts up his shirt it’s like a farm that’s growing in his skin as the worms have multiplied exponentially in just a matter of minutes. Ephraim thought he could catch it in time if he cut out the original infection, but like a cancer these little bastards spread quick. Jim knows there’s only one alternative — if he turns he’ll go after all the people he loves, most notably his wife and his parents and that’s the last thing he wants. So Jim orders Ephraim and the team to kill him. Ephraim refuses and believes if they can get Jim to a hospital, maybe give him some chemotherapy that they can eradicate the worm virus from his body.
Vasiliy things otherwise and with Jim resigned in his mission to die, the exterminator claims one more victim as he puts a few bullets in Jim’s head to put him out of his misery while Ephraim and Nora scream in horror to watch their friend die.
Goodbye, dear Jim — now off to the Goondocks you go.
Fight to Survive
The other thing Abraham reveals about the vampires is that it takes them about a month to mature and then they can become more evolved, thinking and problem solving. It seems some of them are already quite capable as they start systematically finding weaknesses to get into the building. They take out the power, rendering them without electricity to fuel the UV lamps and with only battery power, there’s about 20 minutes to go until they are completely vulnerable. The vampires are also attacking from all sides and even coming in through the roof.
So Vasiliy and the crew opt for an escape route to get to a bread truck parked outside. The driver tried to run earlier, but he wasn’t fast enough and he got attacked and left for dead. Armed with UV lamps, a Home Depot nail gun (nice product placement), and a few Molotov cocktails, the group ventures outside so they can get to the truck for the big escape.
Toss in some credit card humor as Vasiliy attempts to get gas from the pumps outside the help launch the fire all the way across the parking lot to get at the vampires. While he’s doing that, Ephraim makes a run for the bus driver and finds his keys, but just when he’s about to turn and run away, the man wakes up. He’s obviously suffering after being eaten half alive by the vampires. Ephraim couldn’t wrap his head around killing Jim because not only was he a friend, but he still seemed like he could be saved. It’s pretty clear by now, once you’re infected, there’s no going back.
So Ephraim pumps a couple of bullets into his head, opens up the bread truck and hands the keys over to Vasiliy to drive them the hell out of there. Think ‘Dawn of the Dead’ (new one) escape with parking buses except way less dead people attacking the vehicle and no butane tanks to toss at vampires but otherwise, similar idea in mind. The team escapes, but where can they go with the Master hot on their trail and it seems as if the vampires are starting to win the numbers game.
Overall, the most horror filled episode of ‘The Strain’ yet and another example of why this show has been so enthralling thus far this season. There have been slower episodes with a more cerebral feel with a lot of explanation and discussion such as the long talks suffered by Abraham when he was being held captive by the Nazis and essentially turned into a puppet by Eichorst. Then there are episodes like tonight where it’s a thrill ride, scare fest complete with a palpable fear in the air and a real sense of dread growing as the vampire apocalypse spreads across New York. Even the subtle hints about how widespread this thing is going with the news reports playing in the background saying that the mayor won’t call on the National Guard were just brilliantly executed to give real gravitas to the situation.
Make sure to come back next week for a new episode of ‘The Strain’ on FX starting at 10pm ET/PT.