Oh, how this little virus has grown. When compared to the convenience store shootout in season one’s episode “Creatures of the Night,” one can really understand the scale to which this series has grown as the people of New York, and I mean ALL the people of New York, finally take a stand against the vampire horde in a battle to defend Red Hook.
The episode introduces Setrakian and Eph to Councilwoman Faraldo and Frank Kowalski for the first time as they deliver a warning that there will be an attack on Red Hook by The Master’s Strigoi; these words sound completely foreign to people outside of Setrakian’s circle of friends (and viewers of this show.) Of course, they’re escorted out of Faraldo’s war room, quickly met by a power outage, rendering the checkpoint’s UltraViolet lighting useless and open to attack. The rest of the episode plays out like Guillermo Del Toro’s contemporary telling of Tolkein’s Helm’s Deep battle with a final stand of the citizens of Red Hook taking up swords/trowels/any kind of weapon to defend themselves with, and the mystified gun Samantha Mathis once hinted would turn up in Justine Faraldo’s hands appears in an episode that proves her willingness to get into the grim battlefield with the men she commands.
The episode cuts between the dispersed battling and some solid character moments, most notably Setrakian having an honest conversation with Eph about his newly acquired weapon intended for Eldritch Palmer. Among Abraham’s wisest words, he informs Dr. Goodweather of drawing the line between killing monsters and acting like one, despite an intent for the greater good. Additionally, upon the battle’s end, Abraham faces off against Eichorst with the assistance of Ephiram, as he’s stalked by the Nazi vampire through a warehouse being viciously taunted with the knowledge of Kelly’s Memories newly acquired by The Master. One has to wonder, is The Master afraid of what Ephiram is capable of? Does he have grand plans to eliminate the Goodweathers?
Most notably, Kelly’s vampiric husk pursues Nora, Fet and Zack down into the tunnels, in their attempt to turn the power back on. However, in this sequence, Fet gets into a tense fist fight with Kelly to the degree that I was fooled into thinking he may not make it out unscathed by worms. Meanwhile in the middle of the fight, some old mistrust between Dutch and her Ex-girlfriend are resolved when they save each other’s lives with silver knives and bullets, and a very strange, but effective re-convergence of our heroic group occurs at the conclusion. I say strange because there were no major losses that occurred except maybe a sliver of Zack’s innocence that he hadn’t lost already, but there is also a strange inkling of Fet and Nora sharing a chemistry of closeness after the fight with Kelly. Perhaps I’m misreading camaraderie for Vasili’s romantics, but the thing that matters here is that our core cast feels like a real team for the first time. Of course, any point following a victory in storytelling is bound to have a rug underneath to be pulled… that being said, I can tell The Strain’s creators now feel confident in its comic roots with the episode’s tone and the introduction of a new, animated intro that made me suspicious if my pull quote on Rotten Tomatoes was taken seriously? Hmm.
The Strain Episode 2×09 “Battle For Red Hook” (8/10)