Goddamn it, Zach!
The Strain: Season 2: Episode 13: Night Train: GRADE: C+
The season finale of The Strain presents narrative changes that the show desperately needs, but by the end of this season itself, very little has felt like its changed. The show presents these changes mostly through the deaths that occurred and character death doesn’t always signify great change for a TV show.
There’s honestly very few consequences in this finale, the most significant ones present is Nora’s death at the hands of Zach’s stilted and boring storyline and the acquiring of the Lumen by Setrakian. In fact that’s where I’d like to start given its the most exciting storyline that runs throughout the hour. Setrakian and Eichhorst bidding over an ancient book doesn’t exactly sound like the most thrilling centerpiece for a finale of a show that’s centered around a war of humanity against vampires, but goddamn if this didn’t make it thrilling. Eichhorst subbing in for Palmer was already putting it on the right foot as Eichhorst is a wonderfully campy character that get liven up the scene and plus his history with Setrakian is ripe with hate that it makes for better tension than Palmer who really wouldn’t add anything to the scene, aside from resending the payment to leave Eichhorst high and dry to lose to Setrakian. Eichhorst then becomes desperate, a side never seen of him that is played very well. The scene gives off the feel of a Western standoff and David Bradley and Richard Sammel play it up excellently. The tension fills the air and if the Lumen contains what its believed to contain, then again it makes sense for Eichhorst to be there. I even loved Setrakian’s putdown of Eichhorst as always being the bridesmaid and never the bride. Fet being added in to the scene added the extra bit of tension that really completes the scene.
Afterwards Eichhorst and company ambush our auction winners and engage in one thing the show does well, big action set pieces that also has Gus and company finally get engaging and help in the battle. Silver Angel dons his mask and I finally feel happy to see Gus in a scene and then going after Setrakian and Fet is seemingly killed as their van exploded. Except he follows them through the sewer confronts them. Damn you writers! This also gives us the one and only engaging thing to come out of the finale that seems to really set up something interesting for season three and that’s the uneasy alliance of Setrakian and Fet with Quinlan, Gus, and the Silver Angel.
Well Coco is dead thanks to Palmers stubbornness and I felt nothing. Palmer’s story fell flat the moment he was saved by The Master and hasn’t fully recovered. The addition of Coco didn’t help things and further halted any progress of him. He’s essentially become a twisted version of Setrakian when he started doing all he did out of his love for Coco, highlighted more so by him removing her heart in the closing montage.
Speaking of stories that go nowhere, hey Zach, you’re now the worst. Congrats Gus, you’ve been replaced. Eph’s storyline has been one of the more engaging things this season and that is thanks in part to Eph’s evolution over the show. Corey Stoll has played it very well and each time Eph had to deal with a constantly in denial Zach, I felt bad for him since Zach never really changed. I thought there was some redemption when he seemingly finaly saw Kelly for what she is, but that went out the window the moment Zach essentially killed Nora. Kelly sets up a strain of vampires to stand in front of Eph and Nora’s train which successfully derails it and allows her to track Nora and Zach. Nora and Kelly do battle and while it actually is pretty tense and well staged, but the moment Zach yells for Nora to stop as she’s about to finally kill Kelly, I immediately groaned out loud. Nora is attacked by Nora’s stinger and then she and Zach walk of to I don’t really fucking know what. Zach is a moron, he still can’t see that Kelly is dead and a huge threat. Zach is further made into a nothing character for me by this and I don’t care.
Nora’s death is also not well done. Her final moments with Eph are nice, but then electrocuting herself by placing her sword on the third rail is kinda over the top then goes back to nice with Eph laying with her corpse. Much like this second half of the season, that moment felt unbalanced.
Season 2 of The Strain felt like it was stalling, enjoying the view along its trip more than caring about getting to its destination. Poorly handled love storylines, uninteresting new characters, and Zach. While it did have interesting new storylines, deepened mythology, and plenty of great action. These last two episodes honestly make me weary of season 3 and where it can go. So much of what the show tried to change hasn’t changed at all from where it started and they can’t seem to know what really needs to change. Here’s hoping a sense of renewed focus for next year.