We got left with a pretty severe cliffhanger last week that I desperately didn’t want to spoil for you guys, but you had all week to watch it so here it goes! You have two characters of good and evil in Dutch and in Eichorst, and a familiarly terrifying setting in his torture chamber that was introduced to us so long ago that most of the viewership may have forgotten it. In a way, that makes the terrifying setting more effective, because not only does it catch you by surprise, but you know exactly what comes at the end of the chain that Dutch is clutched by while screaming bloody murder.
Quite frankly, last week’s cliffhanger is one of the most genuinely terrifying moments in the show thus far. The episode following that cliffhanger, “Dead End”, doesn’t achieve in scares per se, but in discomfort. Richard Sammel takes the Eichorst we’ve seen floating about for two seasons both as a leader and a bystander of the vampire apocalypse. He’s been simultaneously charming and grotesque through this series. In “Dead End” however, we see both ends of the spectrum that he lies upon, being more completely detestable, conniving and purely evil than we’ve ever seen him; and in between questionable decisions for storytelling like forcing the captive woman to remove her pants, wear lipstick and eat exclusively pineapple, we see the origin of his vampirism on human souls without the help of The Master, but his joining of the Nazi party. Sure, the origin of the nice pushover romantic may seem a bit familiar for the Whedonites in the audience (i.e. William The Bloody’s Awful Poetry), but it gives a sense of history to footnote what kind of headspace Eichorst occupied as a human, and ultimately we can come to the conclusion that he was a sleazy bastard before his blood went cold anyway, he just happens to be good at following orders for any one man, or muppet, who wants to rule the world.
As Dutch attempts to make her escape, Fet, Nora and Eph race to find her in a side quest that really allows Kevin Durand to shine amongst the best moments of the episode, as we see his deep set emotions for Dutch explode into a passionate chase, and in some moments complete rage. However, when it comes to doing his job, he’s at his finest with the use of his architectural knowledge, his extermination tricks and use of dynamite. This is a moment where Kevin Durand got to blow Fet’s fuse, and the boiling tension in the character as of late pays off really well.
Meanwhile, we briefly get to see Gus fulfill his promise to the Guptas to get them out of New York safely, and a lingering connection to Aanya as he promises to come find her, convinced that the two of them would work following the vampire apocalypse. When Quinlan’s “assistants” arrive to pick up Gus, Angel lumbers back to join in on the fight. With Quinlan nowhere to be seen this week, it will be interesting to see where he’ll come to play in the sandbox in the final two episodes.
The Strain’s overall storytelling has been improving this year, and continues to escalate in tension as our crescendo of Season Two starts to accelerate to a climax of some kind. In the last few weeks, we’ve been treated to a full on battle, an assassination attempt and a villain that gives way to a chase. Most television shows would consider audiences lucky if we had a finale with one of those things, let alone several in a row that all provide good character moments. What will they bring next week? Not a clue, but I’m actually pretty excited.
The Strain: Season 2, Episode 11 “Dead End” (8/10)