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Recap: The Strain Season 1 Episode 13 Finale, 'The Master'

Here's a full recap of the Season 1 finale of The Strain where we learn that Bolivar still cares enough to wear his wig, the gang faces the Master with a surefire kill plan, and we finally understand the plan for Gus.
Recap: The Strain Season 1 Episode 13 Finale, 'The Master'

(Spoilers Below)

Tonight’s episode is the season finale of the Strain. Rejoice, detractors—it’s all over until next summer when it returns with more goo, worms, rippling parasitic appendages, and all the rest of the nasty business you’ve made such a part of your Sunday night.

We open with a much-enervated Palmer (accompanied by his lickspittle whose name I always forget) having a stroll through the Knickerbocker Pawn & Loan. Palmer, practically tap-dancing with glee at his new lease on life, hefts a sword with a silver blade, presses his hand to it: it has no effect on him. HMMMM. Eichorst pops out of the shadows (he does this frequently, doesn’t he? Just shows up?) and lets slip that Palmer got health, but he did not get the face snake he was so coveting.

Palmer does a pretty good Veruca Salt at this: people are turning all over the city, he says, why not him? After all he has done? He wants it now! Eichorst just twinkles his creepy grin, telling Palmer that is a different thing to be turned as he himself was turned. Eichorst assures Palmer that he might be sitting at the Master’s right hand through eternity, you know, soon-ish, can’t really say when but, um, eventually. Palmer trots off back to his giant live/work skyscraper and places Miriam’s heart on a shelf surrounded by other organs in jars.

He may want to consider some kind of new backlighting arrangement for this tableau, as it’s just a bit overstated at the moment, don’t you think? He certainly has plenty of energy for all kinds of endeavors these days. He suggests his manservant dispatch of Maggie Pearson, who’s gone and called for a citywide quarantine. The toady declines, with some hackneyed dialogue about how Palmer is an affront to nature and to God and how the toady should be grateful he was ever fished out of the muck and allowed to work in evil white man corporate land blah blah blah.

The minion walks out and into (we hope) Eph’s waiting arms. Palmer shrugs, puts his coat on, and goes to meet Eichorst to throw Pearson off her balcony. He intends to install Everett Barnes, Eph’s old boss at the CDC, in Pearson’s former position. (How about that awful conversation between Barnes and Eichorst? “I was in Munich once. I didn’t like it.” “Jew wouldn’t.”)

Meanwhile the displaced gang is coming up with plan B. Fet and Eph decide that the Master must be hiding out somewhere. Somewhere dark. Somewhere protected. Oh yeah! Of course it’s at Bolivar’s nightclub! Which used to be a speakeasy! And has tunnels! That makes sense so completely! It’s so handy that Fet just happens to know the history of every single building in New York.

Anyway, hunching over various maps and blueprints lead them to Bolivar’s place in Tribeca. Fet speculates that he must be one of the Master’s favorite vamps, and I think that Bolivar is allowed (probably encouraged) to continue to wear his wig proves that to be true. After some recon, they decide to confront the Master at Bolivar’s as a group. Initially, Eph doesn’t want Zach to come along, but Nora persuades it’s better for everyone to stick together. Eph still hasn’t told Zach that Kelly has turned, but Zach will find out sooner or later, won’t he? Probably sooner if Kelly is among the nest at Bolivar’s place.

The whole gang trudge into the tunnels armed with weapons and, in Fet’s case, dynamite, which he uses to blast the first nest of vampires they encounter. They make their way inside the theater, and after Abe inspiringly says “Let’s finish this,” there’s a pretty spectacular showdown. Even Eichorst shows up (suddenly, of course) to join in the fray.

Dutch and Fet stick together (obviously they will soon be really sticking together, hahahknowwhatimean) to fight him off. Nora’s on her own, finding a constructive use for her grief, while Eph, Zach and Abe face the Master further upstairs. Abe and the Master are no sooner reunited and whispering threats at each other than Zach and Eph start breaking the blacked-out windows, letting in sunlight. The Master reels away, pained, smoke emanating from the folds of his ridiculous cloak.

“It’s over, strigoi,” Abe says, and unsheathes his blade to behead the Master, but the Master knocks it out of his hand and launches out the window and into THE DAYLIGHT, HURT BUT NOT DEAD. Abe goes for him a second time but the Master rises and fleas, HURT BUT NOT DEAD. Downstairs, the cadre of vampires (including Eichorst and Bolivar) the others have been fighting off abruptly stop fighting and in eerie unity, walk backward out of the room. (This simple effect along with some backward sound was far creepier than almost any of the CGI we’ve encountered, a really nice use of an old horror movie trope.) After, the gang is reasonably confused: wasn’t sunlight supposed to kill the Master? I was wrong, Abe says. It’s time for a new plan, and looks like we won’t be seeing it until next year.

We bid adieu to the gang back at Kelly’s house. Zach fakes an asthma attack in order to go back and grab a photo album (sound like anyone named Carl from the Walking Dead?) and of course, after another tiresome stroll down memory lane Eph and Zach encounter Kelly. She’s looking rough these days. Neither of them can manage to kill her, so there’s another showdown that will have to wait until next year. Eph is so upset by this encounter that he pounds some whiskey. Oh, Eph.

A couple of loose ends that DID get tied up were the lingering questions of a, who are the vampire militia and b, why do we care about Gus: turns out, the vampire militia are employed by ‘the Ancients,’ a trio of old vampires like the Master. Gus encounters them below ground, in a state of suspended animation-- alive, in a way, says the Colonel (let’s just call him that) but asleep.

They are in a war with the Master after the breaking of ‘an ancient truce.’ The Colonel is their aid and mouthpiece. They require a human soldier, someone who can work in daylight, who has tattoos and abs, who wears plaid shirts: a duty for which Gus has “proven himself worthy.” OK then. Gus still wants to go aboveground and fend for himself, but the Colonel entices him with murmurs of revenge, and, better, money. After some consideration, Gus says, “I’m listening."

Is the war already lost? Abe asks in voiceover as we fade out. We’ll find out next year—see you then.


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