In “For Services Rendered,” The Strain slowed down the monster onslaught (somewhat) in order to reveal some backstories and world-building. What it really proved, though, was that all of this is about Abraham versus Eichorst, and younguns need to be seated and learn a thing or two. (Abraham learned about these vampires, and how to kill them, from his Bubbie, heard? An Armenian-Romanian Bubbie, no less). The episode also introduced us to a brand new friend (or possibly foe …). Hit the jump, if your sword-cane is ready.
The Strain has done a great job of keeping its original group of infected individuals relevant to its story, having them even act as a guide for viewers when it comes to their transformations, and the traits of the beasts. Each of the infected have been so different that they have also illuminated the spread (and the denial about the spread) in different ways.
June, one of the last of the originals to transform, finally finished her journey in “For Services Rendered,” and took out her housekeeper’s daughter in the process. The point Abraham made about the vampires attacking loved ones was made once again after June’s husband came home to find his neighborhood (and more pressingly, his house) overrun. By the time his children got there, they were in for a few nasty shocks of their own, but were able to escape thanks to the help of a mystery man who looks like some kind of reformed vampire, or possibly one who was only partially transformed.
Though Abraham’s plan is to take down these creatures one house fire at a time, Ephraim doesn’t agree that this is going to be the way to do it. It’s too slow. For once, his knowledge of the spread of diseases is coming in handy, even if Abraham doesn’t want to hear it yet. Because of New York’s dense population, the vampirism is spreading at an incredible rate — one that isn’t just affecting one household (like we saw last week, with the coven of vamps in the basement), but entire neighborhoods at a time.
Abraham readjusts, then, to finding The Master and killing him, by going through his human servants. A flashback to 1944 continued Abraham’s story in the concentration camp by giving his relationship with Eichorst a new dimension. For once, Eichorst was not an immortal at that time (him having genitalia and getting drunk being but two signs). After some nice back-and-forth and a powerfully-acted monologue about his belief that humans have a desire to be subjugated, Eichorst suggests that out of the ashes of the Third Reich will rise a new world power. And Abraham just made the coffin for it.
Their short battle in the present time on the train platform was a callback not only to that scene, but to the one at June’s house, when her children were saved by the cloaked stranger (just like Ephraim made a surprisingly accurate shot to save Abraham from Eichorst). These two are major, major cogs in this mythology, and there’s a strong sense that neither may survive the season. Instead, Ephraim and Eldritch may become the next generation of foes, at it were. But who are the cloaked strangers, and how will they fit in to this equation?
The Strain has proved itself to be one of the biggest surprises of the season. It’s not a typical kind of show for FX, and despite a shaky start, it really has settled down into something all its own. The vampires are uncommon, and the mythology takes a backseat to the current action (but feeds into it well) — a definite switch. Collect your silver. It may be safer to do nothing, but there is definitely evil here.
Episode Rating: B+
Musings and Miscellanea:
— A good episode, but a building block of sorts.
— I love that Jim’s wife called Ephraim a “self-righteous jerk” right in front of him. She was not having it!
— What’s interesting about the way The Strain chooses to tell its story is that it’s a story that doesn’t really work in 2014 without a hacker shutting down the world’s internet and cell phone service. It would be interesting to see how that would have changed things, to allow it all to go viral.
— Seeing our new cloaked friends almost made up for a lack of Vasiliy.
— Gus is ripped, y’all. In other news, Felix is not long for this world, and things are about to get real at that prison.
— I liked the callback to the shaky reflections, a trait we learned about last week.
— “Kill the Master, and his spawn will die.” A few seasons from now.
— Eichorst’s conversations with Abraham in 1944 were quite engrossing, especially that weird moment when he actually confided in him about his failings.
— “He has too much hubris. Once challenged, he will show” – Abraham.
— Typical of The Strain, the taxi driver took too long asking questions, and lacked the necessary instincts to just step on the accelerator.
— June’s late husband was played by Aaron Douglas, a.k.a. Galen Tyrol on Battlestar Galactica!
— “Managing people. That’s my talent” – Eichorst.