THE STRAIN SEASON 1 EPISODE 6, “OCCULTATION”
Exposition, yall! They are moving this storyline right along. In New York, everybody on the radio is freaking out about cell phone service being down! Markets are plummeting! There’s no Internet so no one can Instagram! There’s about to be an eclipse! Oh and also, it seems like people might have sprouted bloodsucking face worms overnight. Except no one’s talking about that, probably due to no Internet. Before the Internet, nobody could ever find out about anything. Remember?
Our weekly gross-out begins with Eichorst in his true form, in a padded cell where he’s stashed his snack, a young man in his panties. His snack also has snacks, is that meta? Quite a lot of packaged foods are lying around—Herr Eichorst does not eat organic or cage-free. The young man is chained at the neck and we’re treated to Eichorst reeling in the chain ever so slowly until the young man is forced to the marble head-chopping block in the middle of the cell. Our friend the CGI face worm makes his first wet, rippling appearance as Eichorst assures his prey that he will kill him . . . Just not yet.
Meanwhile in Queens stupid Kelly and her dumb boyfriend get a visit from the FBI, looking for Eph. Eph isn’t stupid enough to run there first? Of course he is. The FBI is no sooner gone than Eph busts into the house telling Kelly to grab Zach and run, run away to bucolic Vermont, where the face worms can’t reach her. Kelly infuriatingly (and predictably) doesn’t believe that the danger Eph is warning her of really exists, and Matt, of course, calls the FBI to let them know that Eph really is stupid enough to show up there, remarking that Eph is probably drunk and that he (Matt) really has to get to Sears without any further interruption. Matt’s decision to call the FBI sparks a fight between him and Kelly, which leads to Kelly first wondering if she should run away from New York as Eph suggested (she doesn’t) and if she was too hard on Matt when she told him to back the fuck up (she wasn’t.) Diane, Kelly’s friend who has a glass of chardonnay superglued to her hand, has plenty of bad advice on these topics, and in general this sub plot is a nap and a half.
Speaking of tiresome, Gus still loves his mama enough to run Eichorst’s errands for him, despite proclaiming to Felix that “we gonna end dat shit today doe.” Eichorst coerces them (first with threats against moms and then with some showoffy physical violence) into agreeing to steal a body from a hospital, a chore for which Jim acts as chauffeur. What is this all leading to? So glad you asked. It’s basically a crude vehicle to keep the thugs in the picture; for this, they must discover that Eichorst is a monster, and that the body they’re charged with disposing sports an impressively sized face worm. Done and done.
What is the point of the rest of this episode? So glad you asked. It’s so Setrakian can realize his dream of a vampire-killing posse! He’s trying to go it alone, traipsing around in Queens just beheading vampires hither and thither but his heart fails him at a crucial moment just as he’s discovering a nest of them. He fumbles for his pills, drops them, and barely makes it out of the room. Perhaps one hundred is just a titch too old for these shenanigans. He has to resort to simply burning the vampire nest down, which just isn’t as fun.
Lucky for him, Nora and her mother have fled Nora’s apartment after Jim warns Nora of an impending FBI visit (which comes thirty seconds later.) They’re wandering around Manhattan when Nora sees a pay phone. This makes me think that perhaps we’re introducing some time travel into the series but no, it’s there so that Nora can rip out the page in the phone book that advertises Setrakian’s shop, without a care in the world for the other eight million people in the city that might need a pawnshop and/or vampire killer. She tugs her mom down to the uptown bound 6 train and bam, just like that, Nora’s proclamation from a couple of episodes ago is totally nullified. Me, I’m hoping for a love connection between Nora’s mom and Setrakian. She has a touch of dementia, but hey, he keeps a worm-infested heart in a jar. By the end of the episode, Eph is in the secret anteroom at Setrakian’s as well, having escaped the FBI in a midtown traffic jam where his old friend the ME is shooting face worms at anyone within shooting reach.
Sadly, Vasiliy Fet’s storyline has not yet crossed Eph and Nora’s, but he’s here a lot this episode, first warning some colleagues about the vampires in the subway tunnels—surprise, they don’t really listen—then going to work to find his co-workers have turned. He pays a visit to his estranged father, trying to warn him to leave town. We’re treated to some more exposition: hey, did you know Fet declined an all expenses paid trip through Cornell’s graduate school in architecture to kill rats? Well, he did. Did you know Fet’s pops is not going to listen to his warnings to get out of town? Well, surprise, he probably won’t! Like stupid Matt, and the stupid FBI agents, and dumbass Kelly, he’s probably going to wait until someone shoots a face worm at him to realize that maybe there’s a problem. Because that is what happens without Facebook: in our era, it’s “pics or it didn’t happen.” Even elderly Ukrainian academics are subject to this rule.
As the eclipse darkens the sky, Kelly decides to be optimistic and stay in New York so that Zach won’t miss school (idiot) and at Sears, boyfriend Matt learns that Eph may have been talking sense after all as he’s menaced by face worms. Bet Matt feels like a real DB right about now. In midtown, Gus and Felix run into the much-changed M.E. (that guy really gets around) and the cops handily show up in the middle of the ensuing battle. Of course, the cops arrest the brown people and leave the blood-sucking zombie alone.
Chez Knickerbocker Pawn and Loan Secret Chamber, Setrakian announces to his new gang that he has a new plan. What, oh what could it be? See you next week
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