Review! The Strain, Ep. 1.11: ‘The Third Rail’ [Spoilers]

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We open in Setrakian’s basement where Fet, Eph, Zach and Setrakian test a new vampire killing weapon – a UV Flash bomb.  The test doesn’t go well and Eph suggests making it strobe.  The tension between these two is palpable and most of it resides with Eph. Upstairs Mariela, Nora’s Alzheimer’s stricken mother, stands confused in Setrakian’s kitchen. During the conversation, Mariela notes that she doesn’t like Setrakian because he has a dark soul.  Nora thinks she’s being rude but Setrakian concurs – he is a dark soul.

Gus arrives back home having escaped both prison and Felix.  He enters to find his no-good brother mostly changed into a vampire.  Attacks but Gus shoves a baseball bat down his brother’s throat, killing him. Well, that’s one way to do it. His mother is mid-change too but Gus leaves her “alive” and  takes an “In case of emergency” axe with him

The Strain 1.11.1

“I love you son but I have to go kill some vampires now…”

Eph and Nora bemoan Setrakian’s brutal method but reluctantly agree to follow the plan – they’re going after the Master. Setrakian gives Nora the silver dagger Kent used and the crew begins its hunt by locking Zach and Mariela in the pawn shop.

At the shop, a confused Mariela demands cigarettes from Zach who tells her Nora will bring some later.  No snarky comments here – she clearly doesn’t know anything that’s happening and it’s difficult to watch.  Later, Mariela panics as she thinks Nora’s been kidnapped.  Zach goes to find some cigarettes, thinking the will calm her.  He finds a dead clerk in an abandoned store as a young couple of looters enter.  Hiding – IN THE STORE BASEMENT – Zach finds a vamp.  Fleeing with the vamp on his heels, he runs into the young couple.  The vamp stings the couple as, in a Happystance, Zach encounters the axe wielding Gus in the store who dispatches the vamp as the boy runs, returning safely to the pawn shop.

The crew notes mass looting as they head to the World Trade Center.  “This is what the Master’s counting on” says Setrakian.  They descend into the subway tunnels beneath the WTC, stealthily tiptoeing through a vampire nest as Setrakian warns the crew that killing them will alert the Master to their presence. As they progress, a vampire fries itself on the 3rd rail “A shitty way to go, even for them”.  Agreed.   The trail leads to a small tunnel which Eph climbs through.  While it’s safe on the other side the vamps they’d passed wake up.  Fet uses the UV light to hold them off and barely makes it through the tunnel before the vamps catch him!  Nora “seals” the tunnel by putting the UV light inside it. Clever girl!

The Strain 1.11.2

“First, do no harm?”

Eph hears Kelly’s voice and ignores Setrakian’s pleas to ignore it.  He wanders into the darkness alone in search of Kelly but finds the Master’s coffin instead! Dozens of vamps and the Master appear before the doctor!

The living virus swats away the Eph’s attacks and chokes and taunts the doctor.  As the Master prepares the coup de’ grace, Fet throws the strobelight bomb!  It kills the lesser vamps but the Master flees!

Setrakian loses it at the thought of losing the Master and furiously takes a sledgehammer to the coffin he made all those years ago.  Continuing the chase, the crew enters a cavern filled with an absolute sea of nesting vampires taking us to the episode’s end.  Whew….

CONCLUSION
This episode told two stories – the crew vs. the Master and Zach/Mariela.  While both were terrific, Mariela’s Alzheimer’s and disconnection from reality was the more troubling.  What does that say about me, the reviewer?  Do I fear Alzheimer’s more than the vampire apocalypse? Hmmm…

BACKLOG PRIORITY
This episode: 9.5/10 – As compelling as Mariela was, Zach choosing to leave FOR CIGARETTES was ridiculous.  The “strained” Fet / Eph relationship was great this week as was Setrakian’s single minded passion was outstanding
The Strain:   10/10 – Only two more episodes left.

– Vrin

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