‘The Strain’ Episode 12 Review: “The Last Rites”

By September 29, 2014
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We’re almost there, people. The 12th episode of the corny-as-f*ck horror schlock series “The Strain” just aired and we have one more episode to go before the first season is complete. And you know what? Aside from the now expected conventions of the show (horrible dialogue, stupid character choices, bad wigs), I must say the most recent 2 episodes have been a wee bit entertaining. What!? Yeah, I said it. Go ahead and punch your computer in protest. I’ll wait…

Sunday night’s episode “The Last Rites” was directed by Peter Weller and picks up after last week’s failed attempt at murdering the Master in his flaming hot and seething red vagina cave…I mean lair! Ephraim and the gang return to Setrakian’s pawn shop bunker to find Zach and Nora’s mom acting all normal like nothing weird or crazy (or stupid) happened last week. And that’s fine, I’d like to forget Zach’s foray into the mean scary world too.

While we find the gang scrambling to put together a new plan or “win,” as Ephram puts it, the blonde British hacker chick makes her return. I just had to look up her character name and would you believe it, this gal’s name on the show is “Dutch Velders”? With a name like that, of course Vasiliy Fet is drawn to her. And their intimate little scene that takes place on the roof of the building was a little eyeroll-inducing, but whatever. Her plan, which she quickly introduces to the group, is to hack into the Emergency Broadcast System server which will give Dr. Ephraim Goodweather a chance to warn the residents of the city of their impending doom. I mean, why can’t she do this? She broke the entire city’s internet!

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Meanwhile, Gus decides the next logical step is to take Alonso Creem (played by Jamie Hector from “The Wire”) hostage. His mission, we soon find out, is pretty simple: get all the guns and ammo. Creem takes him to an office out on the shipping docks which also seemed a bit too reminiscent of “The Wire,” but that’s fine. Marlo Stanfield here turns out to have a huge bag of semi-automatic weaponry just sitting right behind his desk. How convenient! Roughly about this time, Alonso gets a visitor who delivers a stack of money to pay for the shipment of a certain container on the dock. With Gus’ insistence, the two of them head out to said shipping container to see what is so valuable. (HINT: The picture at the top says it all.)

We get a flashback showing Abraham Setrakian doing his best Van Helsing impersonation in Albania circa 1967. While it’s great to get some insight into his life after the Holocaust, the makeup on young Setrakian is even more distracting than the wig still being used on Corey Stoll’s head. While he now is sporting the hairdo, hat, and facial hair that David Bradley seems to wear so well, the wig they have on this dude is just silly. Further, it’s 1967 and by the looks of things, Abe is roughly 40 years old. That would make him close to 90 years old in present day New York!? A 90-year-old angry Jew wandering the streets of New York with an ancient sword, hunting vampires? Actually, come to think of it, I think that just comes off as typical New York. Well done, guys.

Young Abraham seems to have tracked Eichorst and the Master to a small town in Albania, where he has set up shop with his wife. The obvious next steps he takes: buy a horse, climb down a foreboding well in the middle of nowhere, crawl through a small hole to find vampires. Sure, why not? What he does not know is that this is all an elaborate trap the German vampire put in place to introduce Abe to his demise. Eichorst takes the rope away. Abe climbs the wall of the well to escape. Rather anti-climactic (and damn silly) if you ask me!

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After Mr. Setrakian’s moment to reflect on his life, and the eventual murder of his turned wife and children, he returns to the gang and apologizes for his rash behavior down in the sewers. Dutch’s hacking works and for a good 20 seconds, Eph broadcasts his official warning out to the world regarding the plague that is quickly spreading. However, by the look of the time, only those stoned slackers and insomniac grandparents up watching some late night infomercial would have seen this warning. Success!

The gang hardly have the time to truly celebrate this breakthrough as there is a loud scream that comes from upstairs. Eichorst and his minions invade the pawn shop and that goth rocker vamp Bolivar does us all a favor by attacking Nora’s invalid mother. One thing this show seems good at doing is getting rid of the weaker characters we all are annoyed with. I wonder what Zach’s future will be.

There’s a moment here where Setrakian watches as Nora beheads her infected and unconscious mother with a sword. You can see the sadness and empathy there but also, she just cut her mom’s head off with a damn sword! Abe says goodbye to his wife’s jarred up heart (which is still alive) and they all escape the clutches of the German and his minion (Nazi?) vampires.

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When Gus and Alonso discover a bunch of vampires in the shipping container, they respond with lots of gunfire. This leads to an interesting back and forth of them fighting with and then against each other as the gunfire in question is soon turned on each other. Just as they run out of ammunition and the strigoi get closer, the hooded breakdancing (kidding) vampire dudes return and shoot all the evil beasts dead, and then kidnap Gus – leaving Creem there in a super confused state.

Also, Eldrich Palmer finally gets visited by the Master but that storyline is so damn boring and so weak it only deserves a one sentence mention.

It looks like the stage is set for the final episode to air. If they continue phasing out the weaker characters, hopefully this will in turn get rid of the sillier plot points that have given “The Strain” many comparisons to dumb ’90s TV horror fare like “The Langoliers.” Still, there is now a certain expectation with the series to maintain the schlock value, that keeping these conventions in the yet-to-be-aired episodes may be the right move going forward. Even if that move is dumb and silly.

What were your thoughts on last night’s episode “The Last Rites”? What are your expectations for next week? What did you have for breakfast? Tell me everything in the comments below!

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Aside from throwing words onto your screen here, he has written for the likes of FEARnet, Examiner, Dread Central and MTV Movies Blog. And yes, he was Percy on VR Troopers.