The Strain is raising the stakes, and this week we’re given more than a simple climactic battle to let us know it’s on to bigger and better things. In “The Assassin” we reach a couple of pivotal plot moments, with strong emotions emulated through our characters as we propel to the finale.
The cold open presents us with our primary plot of the episode, with Dutch and Ephraim making a stakeout point in a high rise apartment. This sets up Eph’s efforts to kill Eldritch Palmer for the greater good to be realized in this week’s episode. These two get paired together on a mission for the first time that I can think of in a while, but the pairing allows for these two character’s growth to be defined, particularly Dutch’s comments about how differently she see’s Eph in trying to do something as edgy as she would do for a good cause; except she’d be using a keyboard instead of a 50mm round.
As the two investigate whats happening inside the one room set of StoneHeart Group, the Mayor makes an entrance, revealing some of his own allegiances and intentions as he asks Palmer for a favor to “chat” with Justine Faraldo who, in the meantime, is tackling the vampire invasion in an eerily life-like depiction of asking the Upper East Side citizens of Manhattan to shell out some coin for their protection, compared to those in Brooklyn who literally paid for survival in blood. The edgy decisions after the success of protecting Red Hook is making Samantha Mathis’ performance as Justine Faraldo fast approaching the list of favorite characters on the show.
Meanwhile, to set up things down the road, Eldritch goes to plead his love for Coco, since last week she decided he’s not worth her time if he’s going to keep secrets. Though this episode may prove she’s bitten off more than ever should have. The events of the episode may be a little predictable, but will certainly shock most fans, while simultaneously putting high stakes and emotions into every character in the cast, and resulting in a first exchange between Eph and Palmer that is eerily reflective of those between Abraham and Eichorst. Palmer’s expectations of people, and particularly of The Master bring up very striking questions to his motivations. Why would The Master ever actually help him? Why, as Eph puts it, “Would he ever share his great kingdom with anybody?” I’m sure we’ll find out coming up soon, as he seems to be getting on Eichorst’s nerves entertainingly well.
The side plot of this week’s episode involve the trio of Fet, Nora and Abraham searching for The Lumen on a shortlist of locations, ranging from EDM clubs to old bookstores. However, Fet and Nora break away from the mission to rescue their teammates. This is the first time I can recall seeing Fet and Abe at odds in a major way, as Abraham’s one track mind isn’t always comprehensible to those outside of it.
The scenarios that Eph is put into this week, as mentioned, raise the stakes, but also seem to be putting him in greater possible danger to account for his actions. However, this is also putting his teammates, particularly Dutch, in the same increasingly intense situations, as the final moments of “The Assassin” reveals Dutch in an unsettling and familiar scene. This is quite possibly the first time I ever found myself with heart pounding tension and yelling at the TV for something to not happen. Apart from this surprise setting that excites me for next week, “The Assassin” as a whole is a neatly written, well edited package with a lot of quality characterization and plot in 41 minutes where all story threads converge clean and set up new things for the final few episodes. I may go as far as to say it’s The Strain‘s best episode so far.
The Strain: Season 2, Episode 10 “The Assassin” (9/10)