It’s my final review of “The Strain” (at least for 2014) as the final episode of Season 1 aired last night. Titled “The Master,” I’m going to go on record right now and state this episode wasn’t very masterful (get it?) in tying up any loose ends or answering many questions. Moreso, I found the final episode to season 1 of FX’s vampire schlock-fest to be rather uninspired and anticlimactic. But that’s not to say that there weren’t any cool moments that happened. So let’s get into it, shall we?
Where did we leave off last week? Oh right, Eldritch Palmer was finally visited by the Master and trickled some white liquid substance into his ill mouth. This seemed to have almost immediately healed the ailing man. What we learned in last night’s episode is that even though he was temporarily healed, he was not turned, or as Eichorst put it, “given the worm.” And while this storyline in last week’s episode was weak and boring, this week found Eldritch’s personal assistant fed up and quitting his post. Their back and forth sounded much more than a professional relationship, almost even a romantic one. THAT would be interesting.
Let’s move onto Gus. Last week he was dragged off by the hit breakdancing troupe Jabbawockees (come on, you know that’d be cool!) with a bag over his head. Now we find him being held in some sort of jail cell. Finally, the leader of the hooded vampires shows us his face and we soon find out they have taken Gus to spark a sort of deal. This, of course, was not presented to the man until he attempted to flee only to find himself standing in a giant puddle of blood between a group of strigoi elders in slumber. This is the point in the episode where I literally stood up and yelled at my TV, “What is this, an X-Files episode!?” It’s not, though – “The X-Files” would have done it better.
Still, it is this moment in the episode that we at least get one answer to an ongoing question that has been nagging me for sometime now. These hooded vampires with assault weaponry are a part of a war that has apparently been going on for some time. Gus was the one who moved the Master’s coffin across the river in “Zero Hour” and now he is out for revenge for the loss of pretty much everyone he loved. As luck would have it, these soldier vamps are looking to tap into this vengeful spirit as the movement of the coffin in question was also a violation of some sort of ancient truce between vampire factions (or something) and Gus seems to be their prospective liaison between the day and night. Again, I say “or something.”
On the other side of the city, Scooby & The Gang (am I the only one thinking this?) decide it is the time to leave their hideaway. Yes, this includes little Zach who keeps asking about his mother and receiving cautious sideways glances from his father. What we learn early on in this episode is that goth rocker vampire Bolivar has taken over his theater, which is the perfect lair for the strigoi. Some early reconnaissance by Dr. Goodweather and Vasiliy finds this to be true as they spot the Master’s broken up coffin. Our resident rat killer brought dynamite to the vampire infested sewer tunnel which led to one chuckle-worthy scene. [Side-note: Is there a Strigoi Vampire School for the background actors ala “The Walking Dead” Zombie School? Just curious.]
When the entire gang enters the theater, a big fight scene begins. These are the moments where “The Strain” really shines in actually keeping my attention and making me give a damn. In this scene one of the vampires gets a glorified scalping (a failed decapitation), but it was still effective enough. There needs to be more of these fight sequences in season 2!
All this leads up to the big confrontation between Abraham and the Master. We find the Master in the theater’s attic and their fight scene plays out in the most anticlimactic way ever. While Setrakien gets to wield his sword and claim he has waited for this moment all his life, the moment in question turns out to be quite weak. Ephraim and Zach soon join the picture and quickly deduce the best plan of attack is to shatter the windows and let the sunlight in. Is this supposed to be an homage to Fright Night? I’m all for homages when used right, but here it just seemed lazy. And soon, the Master decides the best plan of action is to dive out the window into the daylight, wriggle around a little bit and then scale the wall down to the street and disappear from sight.
After this action-packed sequence, there was another 7 or 8 minutes left in the episode. [Insert eye roll here.] Ephraim’s son Zach decides on the car ride away from the theater incident that it’s the perfect time to have an asthma attack. The team takes a detour to Dr. Goodweather’s old house to find the extra inhalers and wouldn’t you know it, Zach was faking! His motivation was to get their old family photo album because he misses his mother. Well, the kid’s wish to see his mom again was granted in a very predictable fashion because she soon shows up in full vampire form only to have a teary eyed Eph shoot her in the shoulder. Her response? She just sorta smiles and walks away.
Just as the season began, it ends with a Abe Setrakien-narrated scene of the gang driving off into the sunrise. FX has already green-lit a second season for ‘The Strain” and I can only hope there will be way more of the black hooded vampire soldiers featured in next year’s story-line. And hey, we’ve all agreed that this season was silly, illogical, and sometimes fun, but last night’s episode left me feeling disappointed and wanting more. I may be to blame, however, as I watched the premiere episode of “American Horror Story: Freakshow” right after viewing this episode and it vastly overshadows anything contained in “The Strain” – period. But then again, that’s like comparing apples to really f*cking amazing oranges. Like, oranges picked by the hand of God or something! Again, I say “or something”!
We have a little under a year until the new season of “The Strain” hits TV screens. Until that time, tell me your thoughts on last night’s episode, the entire season, or whatever else your little heart desires in the comments below!
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