Last week, we saw Palmer (Jonathan Hyde) puff himself up into a arrogant fool when he told Eichhorst (Richard Sammel), “I’m not one of his foot soldiers. I’m the Master’s partner.” Immediately, Eichhorst shuts Palmer down and warned him that it may not be very wise to be so bold. Perhaps Eichhorst should have taken his own advice because tonight’s episode opens with the Master’s 2nd-in-command playing the same pompous fool and having such a stringent air of entitlement that it could make you heave.
EICHHORST SETTING HIMSELF UP FOR A FALL?
After the Master is badly burned by Abraham in the season 1 finale, he is in search of a new body, and every indication in the premiere points to Bolivar (Jack Kesy) being the Master’s first choice for his new host. Judging from the look on his face, Eichhorst seemed to have gotten the hint, but the guy must be in denial because he continues to think he must be the chosen one. In tonight’s episode, he even goes so far as to make Bolivar believe someone else is going to be the new Master (i.e. — himself) and lies in the new coffin that has already been constructed.
The Master is about to undergo a wondrous transformation. When he does, all of his followers must embrace his wisdom and continue to serve him faithfully. Are you prepared to do that? — Eichhorst to Bolivar
However, as I mentioned in my review last week, while Eichhorst is very trustworthy and loyal, the original Master didn’t select Sardu as his new host because he was a good servant — instead, he was chosen for his strength and his large stature. Bolivar is young and strong, while Eichhorst, well, he’s quite a bit older and relatively small. It’s pretty clear the Master has made up his mind, but the question is how will Eichhorst react when he is pushed aside for a young, flippant, teeny-bopper rock-n-roll star who barely even knows the basics about being a strigoi? My gut says not so well at all.
INFECT THE INFECTED — DRS. GOODWEATHER AND MARTINEZ
We had been told well before the season started that at least 80% of the material for season 2 was going to be completely new and not originating from the source material. The arc involving Drs. Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and Martinez (Mia Maestro) trying to find a treatment for the strigoi pathogen is the first major deviation, and I’m loving it so far. Any attempt in finding an effective treatment was absent in the trilogy, but it’s something that was very much needed. I mean, come on, these 2 are doctors for Christ’s sake! Working to find a treatment would have been the 1st thing they would have thought of.
As Eph and Nora begin their trials, lots of issues regarding the ethical standards they hold by being physicians (especially when the McGeevers ask to leave, and they are not allowed to), but the big shocker that comes out of all this is the fact that they may have found a solution. Yes, folks, Drs. Goodweather and Martinez may have found something to combat this thing! They knew from the beginning that a “cure” per se would not be possible, because even if you’ve been infected for just a short while, your biology has already started to be reworked, and that can’t be reversed. But, if they could find some other pathogen or virus that could effectively “shutdown” or neutralize a strigoi? Now, that would be a winner.
And, it appears that’s exactly what they’ve done. They are able to isolate a virus that will shut down the central nervous system of a strigoi, but at the same time, not kill humans. If I understand the terminology correctly, it basically makes the strigoi brain-dead, rendering them docile. Now, I’m fuzzy as to the specifics on how this treatment would be disseminated to all strigoi, but I suspect that’s a minor detail. The big takeaway is that they have found a strigoi “disease” that can potentially take them all down.
I can’t even begin to express how excited I am about this revelation! As I had said before, in the trilogy there is no mention of any kind of treatment, and so, if this thing actually works, it could be huge. Think of how having a new treatment/weapon could alter the original storyline — basically, you could potentially have a completely different story to tell. Some people who are hard-core fans of the books may be bothered by this, but I’m absolutely thrilled because the possibilities are mind-blowing. Kudos and plaudits to the writers for deciding to take this path.
SETRAKIAN AND PALMER AND THEIR OBSESSION OVER THE LUMEN
Did anyone else get a creepy feeling last week when Palmer asked Coco (Lizzie Brochere) to confirm that the buildings he was buying were equipped to handle a large volume of liquid waste? This guy definitely has a sinister plan in the works, and from the looks of it, it appears he may have been working on this plan for quite some time. As it turns out, that assumption is right on target.
In another brilliant series of flashbacks, we see that Palmer has been fixated on the strigoi and the Master for decades and actually approached Abraham back when he was a professor at the University of Vienna in the 1960s. Desperate to find the Master and knowing that Professor Setrakian (Jim Watson) is an expert on the strigoi, the young Palmer (Charlie Gallant) approaches the Professor to help him with his quest but under the pretense that he is just as appalled at the strigoi and wants nothing more than to destroy them just like Abraham. Being young and naive, Abraham sees in Palmer a kindred spirit and so, agrees to help him. Abraham’s first task — locate Sardu’s walking cane. It hadn’t been seen since Sardu went missing in the mid 1800s, but Palmer had heard a rumor that it had resurfaced in Vienna.
We don’t get to see where Abraham got his information, but he is successful in locating the cane. He traces it to an antique shop owned supposedly by a nobody German, but upon seeing him, Abraham recognizes the old man immediately. It’s Dr. Dreverhaven (Nigel Bennett), Eichhorst’s close friend from the concentration camp where Abraham had been sent. Abraham doesn’t waste any time, and identifies the old man as the sadistic doctor from the camp, and given that he’s a wanted war criminal, Dreverhaven bolts. Abraham isn’t able to catch him, but Dreverhaven does drop the cane in the chase. So, Abraham does get what he came for. However, Dreverhaven’s day gets worse. It so happens that he had a buyer for the cane already, and that buyer is Eichhorst. Of course, Eichhorst is beyond upset when he learns that Dreverhaven lost the cane and even more upset when he discovers it’s the Jew who took it. Eichhorst returns the favor by turning Dreverhaven in the final scene of the episode.
Now, if you had been paying attention in season 1, the name Dr. Dreverhaven should be familiar. In episode 1.02, when Eichhorst visits Setrakian in jail, he mentions in passing how he had cut up Eichhorst’s friend, Dr. Dreverhaven, put them in a box, and threw the box in the sea. So, obviously, Dr. Dreverhaven is dead in present day, and I suspect this flashback will be the first of many showing how Abraham ultimately tracks down the evil Dreverhaven and kills him.
Now, back to Palmer. Palmer is using the buildings he had just bought supposedly as “Freedom Centers” where the residents of NYC can come to to get food. How noble of him, right? Uh, huh. However, when we see that each person is asked their blood type, we all probably have a good idea of what the real purpose of these “food warehouses” is. While Palmer is congratulating himself on being the “savior” of NYC at the opening of the 1st of the food centers, he turns around and there stands Abraham. The looks on Palmer’s face — priceless. Abraham knows what Palmer has done and he probably even blames himself for it because he didn’t see through Palmer’s deceit all those years ago. However, there “is still one card that hasn’t been played yet,” as Setrakian puts it to Palmer — and that card is the Occido Lumen. Abraham never found it, and from the look on Palmer’s face, he hasn’t either. So, now the race is officially on on who can locate the ancient book first.
Who do you think will find the Lumen? Well, Palmer has money and resources, but Abraham now has the Ancients by his side to help. So, my money’s on Abraham, but we will have to wait and see.
VASILY AND DUTCH — LET THE SHIPPERS REJOICE
While everyone else in the group is busy with their own pursuits, Vasily (Kevin Durand) and Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas) decide to do what they do best and make a day out of taking out a bunch of local munchers on Fet’s block. They hit the jackpot at a local fitness center, where with the help of a couple of Abraham’s homemade silver grenades, a good 2 dozen munchers are toast in a matter of minutes. Very cool, intense scene and the only real action sequence in the entire episode.
However, hold onto the rails all you Kevin Durand fans out there because the scene is about to get better — much, much better. There have been hints since around the middle of season 1 that there was something between Vasily and Dutch — or at the very least, that Vasily was definitely interested in her. But, with Dutch liking girls at her own admission and not knowing whether she was a switch-hitter or played exclusively for the other team, we could only speculate if there was a future for her and Fet. Well, we got our answer tonight.
As soon as I saw that steamy pool at the entrance of the fitness center, I knew there was going to be a purpose for it! On a pretense of wanting to wash off the silver from the grenades, Dutch strips down, gets in the pool, and promptly invites Vasily in for a “little skinny dip.” So, here we have our first Dutch/Vasily hook-up, and oh, by the way, the first nude scene in the series. Man, oh man, my ears are still ringing from the screams of all the Kevin Durand fangirls out there.
The only question is will this relationship last? We all know that Dutch is a little unstable, and she even admitted last season that she’s good at making “passionate, destructive relationships.” Also, let us remember that we are at the beginning of a vampire apocalypse. If you’ve watched similar television series like The Walking Dead, you know what purpose new romantic relationships usually serve — and, that’s to create the angst when one in the relationship is killed. Now, I don’t think Vasily will be dying anytime soon, but Dutch? She’s not in the books, and she is somewhat impulsive. I sure hope that it doesn’t turn out this way because it will crush Vasily, but I am being cautiously optimistic at this point.
Lastly, this review would not be complete without mentioning the introduction of Councilwoman Justine Feraldo played by the wonderful Samantha Mathis. Wow, what a freakin’ introduction! We all know that Dr. Everett Barnes (Daniel Kash) is in bed with Palmer and Eichhorst, and while some people may not notice that nothing’s being done about the outbreak in the city, Feraldo is definitely not one of them. She barges into their meeting at City Hall, and makes it very clear that neither she nor Staten Island are going to just stand by and watch this bullsh*t go down. Either they can stand up and all be men and fight this thing, or she’s going to come in and pick their balls off the floor for them.
We’re going to take back Staten Island one block at a time, flush these things out, and blow their God-damn heads off. Then, we’re going to secure the perimeter so no more can get in. Now, if you’ll excuse me, you can carry on with your mental jerk off here. I’ve got work to do — Councilwoman Justine Feraldo
In my opinion, this very short scene was one of the best in the entire episode, and I’m very excited to see what trouble she kicks up for Palmer, Eichhorst and all of their schemes.
All in all, while this episode may not have been as good as last week’s premiere, I still give it a strong “B” rating. As horrible as Palmer is, I love seeing his plans unfold, and I can’t wait for the big showdown with Setrakian, which they have already laid the groundwork for. And, of course, I’m dying to see where this strigoi “disease” storyline will go, as any kind of treatment will most definitely alter the course of the original storyline from the books. Some people may object to this, but I personally believe that nothing is perfect, and I’m very excited to see what improvements to the source material this new development may bring to the table.
The Strain airs on Sundays at 10/9c on FX.
Critic Grade — B+
I was very fortunate to be able to chat with the entire cast and EPs last weekend at San Diego Comic-Con, and below are the interviews I did with series stars Corey Stoll and Mia Maestro. In the first interview, Corey talks about his character, Eph’s alcoholism, and the changes in the relationship with his son this season. In the second interview, Mia discusses the evolution of her character, Nora, and the moral challenges she will face this season, some of which we have already seen in tonight’s episode.
Corey Stoll Comic-Con Interview:
Mia Maestro Comic-Con Interview:
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com
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