As some of you may recall from my Advance Preview, I was beyond ecstatic after screening tonight’s episode for the first time. Back at the beginning of the series, Jim Kent (Sean Astin) was my favorite character, and I cried like a pathetic little girl when he was killed. So, when Jim shows up in the opening scene of the episode in a fantastic series of flashbacks, I was completely over the moon. Totally unexpected and totally made my day. Well, since Jim’s death, Mr. Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones) has become my new favorite character, and just like most of the fandom, I’ve become somewhat irritated with Q’s very marked absence in the past few episodes. So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to see the new fan-favorite hero (finally!) and what’s more, that is appears the beloved dhampir may be playing a major role going into the season 2 finale. To all the fans — fist-bump, score! So happy and so excited.
EPH, NORA, ZACK AND A PLANNED TRIP ON A NIGHT TRAIN
Truth be told here. I’ve never, ever been a fan of the whole Eph (Corey Stoll) and Nora (Mia Maestro) relationship. I’ve always viewed Dr. Goodweather as an arrogant asshole who is used to getting his way and what he wants, with Nora just being a very sad casualty of his gigantic ego. So, when the episode opens with some flashbacks about how Drs. Goodweather and Martinez had met, I wasn’t exactly thrilled and jumping for joy. In fact, my initial reaction was more of a “Oh, boy” and then, a big eye-rolling.
But, then, out from the corner of the screen walks the ever-faithful Jim Kent, ready to coach and serve his “Boss.” The Strain occasionally jolts the crap of me, and this is definitely one of those moments. After Jim’s horrific death in episode 1.08 “Creatures of the Night,” I never expected to see the guy again, and so, this certainly was a pleasant treat and surprise. In these flashbacks, Jim plays the role of the devil’s advocate, pointing out to Eph that he shouldn’t hire Nora on his team because she’s so attractive and also reminding him of his marital status and all of the problems he was having with Kelly. But, as I said, what Eph wants, Eph gets, and the rest is history.
Fast-forward ten years to 2015, and with Eph’s unspoken infidelity, this relationship is pretty much ancient history, much to the dismay of both parties. But, life goes on, and now the focus is on Zack (Max Charles) and somehow getting him out of the city and to safety. Well, it turns out they are in luck, and thanks to Justine Feraldo (Samantha Mathis) and her new call center, we learn Zack’s grandparents are alive and are in Georgia. Well, Zack is holed up and isolated, and so, wants to go and see them. Eph insists that they need to stay behind to fight. Nora is adamant that he needs to think of his son, which is something he often failed to do when he and Kelly were together. Eph rarely loses, but fortunately, this is one argument that Nora manages to win.
So, they need to get out of NYC and deliver Zack to his grandparents in Georgia, but how? You need special permits now to travel out of the city, something which they did not have. Well, Eph may be a pompous prick, but he does come up with a pretty good plan — at least so it seems. Use his new bio-weapon as a bargaining chip to convince Justine Feraldo to authorize travelling permits for himself, Nora and Zack so that he can pick up a bio-reacting agent in Washington D.C. while dropping Zack off in Georgia afterwards.
Not bad, Eph. This plan may actually work….well, except for a few details that really make my stomach turn. First, is anyone else pretty uneasy with Palmer’s (Jonathan Hyde) new-found friendship with Feraldo? If anything, Palmer would want to blot her out, and yet, he’s actually supporting her? Eichhorst (Richard Sammel) hints it’s so that Palmer can manipulate her. Is that it, or is there something much more sinister at play? And, who in the hell capped the Mayor? Could it be one of Palmer’s spooks so that he would have only Feraldo left to control? Either way, Zack is going to be on a train to D.C. soon courtesy of Justine Feraldo, Palmer is now connected to the Councilwoman, and something tells me that Eichhorst, Kelly Goodweather and a whole army of strigoi will be showing up for that trip. And, with next week’s season 2 finale titled “Night Train,” I think that’s a safe bet.
GUS, ANGEL AND QUINLAN’S SUN-HUNTING “DREAM TEAM”
Vaun and his SWAT team in season 1 weren’t fools and chose Gus (Miguel Gomez) to be part of their team for a reason. He’s tough as nails, does what it takes to get the job done, and actually, he’s also pretty damn smart. So, with Gus’s first mission being to put together a new team of sun-hunters, Gus knows exactly where to look first for recruits. Riker’s Island.
10 jails. 14,000 people who said they didn’t do it — Gus
And, now, 14,000 possible vampires — Angel
If you need to find men who are tough and who can fight, well, a prison is definitely a great place to start. Very nice move, Augustin Elizarde.
Unfortunately, a good deal of the prison has already been turned with the exception of a few prisoners who were locked in their cells by their CO when the place was overrun. But, these few are enough because Gus and Angel don’t need an army — only a small team of soldiers.
However, given that these men are, in fact, convicted criminals and likely DID do what they are accused of, it’s no surprise that Gus runs into trouble especially when he tells them that this mysterious “Quinlan” — someone they’ve never met — is the one who’s actually in charge. It takes only one alpha male in the group to rock the boat, and in this case, it’s Gus’ buddy from the “hood,” Perez. He announces he’s the one in charge and will be taking Quinlan’s gun supply for himself, and in response, gets a gunshot to the gut courtesy of the Silver Angel.
Of the entire sun-hunting team arc in this episode, I felt this was the best part because it showed us all that Angel isn’t the old cripple he makes out to be. In fact, he comes across quite a bit tougher than Gus. Perez had a gun pointed at Gus, and even though his own life was at stake, Gus did nothing because Perez was supposedly his friend. Instead, Angel had to step up and be the enforcer, and I just loved it. This one scene kicked “El Angel del Plata” to total bad-ass level, and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of that in the near future.
QUINLAN + SETRAKIAN VS. PALMER + EICHHORST — MAY THE HIGGEST BIDDER WIN
As we saw at the end of last Sunday’s episode, Alonso Creem (Jamie Hector) has finally gotten his hands on the Occido Lumen, and I think it’s safe to say he’s not going to hand it over to Setrakian (David Bradley) for only a rare watch. Yep, this guy is all about the money, and if that means the fall of humanity, so be it. As long as he’s still alive, rich, and has his own personal island, who in the hell cares. Such a sweetheart.
So to maximize his payout, he’s been playing both sides and pitting both Setrakian and Palmer against each other, with the man with the deepest pockets walking away with the ancient book. Oh, as an added catch, with the exception of the 1.57 million dollars that Creem credits to Setrakian’s account for the watch, the payment must be made in gold. Piece of cake, right? With Palmer and his billions, no problem, simply chump-change. But, what about Setrakian? I really didn’t see a lot of gold laying around in that storage locker of his at the beginning of the season.
Well, that’s where our bonesword-wielding hero, Mr. Quinlan, comes in. Ever since Q’s dramatic entrance in 2.05 “Quick and Painless,” it seems like every scene that the character is in, he always makes a grand entrance, and the scene in tonight’s episode of the Quinlan/Setrakian meet-up is no exception. First, let’s talk about the opening of the scene. If you didn’t know it was Quinlan holding that faded photo, you may have missed this part altogether, but I think it’s very important and so, definitely worth mentioning.
Quinlan’s full backstory and his underlying motives for killing the Master haven’t been revealed in the television series yet, but I can tell you this photo is likely a very big clue. The faded image is obviously very old and probably that of Quinlan and his wife (who is now dead). For those familiar with the trilogy, this is a very heartbreaking scene and a clear indicator that even though Quinlan’s wife has been dead for centuries, his pain is still potent as if it were yesterday. This being said, I have a strong suspicion we may be getting this part of Quinlan’s backstory very soon, quite possibly in next week’s finale but definitely early in season 3.
Now, back to the meeting between Quinlan and Setrakian. Abraham needs a very large amount of gold to purchase the Lumen, which Quinlan says is no problem, but there is one catch. Setrakian obviously can’t keep the Lumen, but he at least wants to examine it before handing it over.
The gold won’t be an issue. But, the Ancients will be reluctant to trust you with the power of the Lumen — Quinlan
True, but the Ancients must now decide who is the greatest threat. An old pawnbroker with a few confederates. Or, the Master backed by Palmer and his billions. If the Master obtains the book, he’ll destroy us all — — Setrakian
It seems we have no choice but to trust one another — Quinlan
I’ll obtain the book. And, after I examine it, I’ll turn it over to the Ancients — — Setrakian
Agreed — Quinlan
Back in episode 2.07 “The Born,” the much younger Quinlan stated that he was a “student of human behavior,” and wanted to learn more with Senator Sertorius serving as his mentor. Well, it seems that Q may have been well-taught because he certainly does seem to understand that human beings are inherently evil and tend to lie, cheat and steal. So, does he really trust Setrakian? Of course not! At the very least, he has an insurance policy, and that is Gus. Gus’ new orders are very clear and very blunt: If the Professor refuses to hand over the Lumen, kill him.
Oh crap. You know, when I screened this episode for the first time, I was a little peeved at Quinlan. However, upon thinking about it, I do now understand his actions. Quinlan’s only goal is to kill the Master, and while his true motives may be based upon revenge, it still works out for us because it will save the human race at the same time. A win-win. As Setrakian said himself, the survival of humanity hinges entirely on the Occido Lumen, and so, if obtaining it means the death of one man, that’s an acceptable sacrifice. This is Quinlan’s logic, and even though it may mean the death of the beloved Abraham, it’s an acceptable sacrifice. I get it, and so, it’s Mary Powers-approved.
But, will Gus really go through with it? Judging from the look on his face in that final scene, my guess is a resounding “No.” Hell, he couldn’t even kill Perez back at the prison — instead, Angel had to do his dirty work. We are heading into the season 2 finale, and no doubt, this arc will play a major role.
All in all, another great episode. I’m not exactly thrilled with all the Eph/Nora background noise, but with Jim Kent thrown into the mix, the flashbacks turned out to be one of the best parts of the episode. Cheers to the writers for that one. We also got the formation of Q’s team of sun-hunters (finally!), and that will most certainly pave the way for some major strigoi-fighting scenes in future episodes. And, of course, the stage is set for the big showdown for the Occido Lumen but with the stakes kicked up another notch with the addition of Mr. Quinlan to the game.
The only thing I can’t say I liked about the episode is all of the sappy, romantic overtones. Eph and Nora — they’re done, we get it. Yay. Dutch dumped Fet yet again, but then gets dumped herself by Nikki. I almost liked that one because at least Dutch is getting exactly what she deserves. And, then, Palmer and Coco. Actually, I’m not even going to go there because this entire arc has been nauseating since day 1 and is even worse now that Coco is all Team Palmer and isn’t really phased by the deal that was made with the devil to save both her and Palmer’s lives.
Bottom line — yuck, yuck, yuck. The good news is given all of the storylines that were set up in tonight’s season 2 penultimate episode, I can’t imagine there being too much time for romance and such in next week’s finale. If that turns out to be the case, fully expect this finale to be of epic proportions and one that fans will be buzzing about for a good long while.
The season 2 finale of The Strain airs next Sunday at 10/9c on FX.
Critic Grade — A
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