After a climactic month of episodes on Guillermo Del Toro’s The Strain, the train slows the pace this week just enough to establish where our characters are at, and tie up loose ends until it’s full steam ahead into our finale for 2015, and it is here where most of our supporting characters and villains have moments to shine as their positions of power and motivations become crystal clear. By the end of this episode, I find myself more excited to see what the likes of Quinlan, Faraldo, Eichorst and Palmer will do upon the season’s end than Ephraim and The Goodweathers.
Adding to our footnotes throughout this series, we get a flashback sequence to Washington DC in 2005, where Eph and Nora first meet at an Infection Disease Conference following the SARS outbreak. This is a thing that actually happened, though. No vampires involved. This is a good excuse to have viewers recall the parallels to how our societies deal with viral outbreak, but just as much reminds viewers that Sean Astin was in this show once upon a time. The flashback footnoting throughout “Fallen Light” is mostly to depict the status of the romance between Ephraim and Nora when they first met, and as they are currently, surely for their connection to reach an emotional low in the finale.
Meanwhile, the romancing between Fet and Dutch seems to wrap up almost too cleanly, to the point that I’m surprised the scene works at all. To have a show filled with characters that are as flawed and imperfect, Vassily seems completely unshaken by Dutch’s decision to leave him for Nicki, as Dutch believes she can “try to make something real with her.” She’s filled with enough guilt to make up for both herself and for Fet, nearly abandoning him after he saved her from death, risking his own life for hers. His acceptance of her decision after everything he’s done is uncanny, but in other cases where I’d find this completely unbelievable, it just continues the portrayal of Fet as our most unlikely of selfless heroes. Of course, this plot thread can’t just end without a slipknot somewhere, because Nicki doesn’t feel the same way, and makes Dutch realize she’s made a new home and a new family for herself in fighting the Strigoi, but it’s somewhere that Nicki can’t follow, hinting that maybe Dutch has found that sense of belonging she never had before.
A lot of the dramatic tension of the week is delivered by Samantha Mathis, as she has an encounter with the Mayor, swiftly having Kowalski escort him after he requests she resign from her position. Of course the episode leaves her in a tight spot where she may be held accountable for things she has and has not done, illustrating what could occur when a person’s ideologies are positively received, but bleed into a public following in the best and worst ways. Faraldo also meets with Palmer for the first time, as she cuts through his promises of sunshine and rainbows to get to his real motive. In fact, a lot of the stakes for Palmer are revealed in this episode. Not only does Faraldo see right through his efforts of profiting on tragedy, but he does a bit of squabbling with Eichorst as well, who places the lives of both Eldritch and Coco as bargaining chips as the search for The Lumen reaches it’s final stand.
It appears the Occido Lumen, the silver bound book that Abraham has searched for all summer, will be our convergence of the season finale, as our key players fall into place for a game of elaborate chess, and a lot of gold is expected to be stolen, bought and quickly ignored by next Sunday. Not only are Eichorst and Palmer struggling to work with one another on the side of The Master, but on the other end, Gus is working behind the scenes with Quinlan to ensure Setrakian makes good on his deal with The Ancients. That’s a lot of character names in one sentence, isn’t it?
The Strain: Season 2, Episode 12 “Fallen Light” (7/10)