The Strain - Season 2 Episode 11: "Dead End" TV Episode Review
Written by Giuseppe Infante
Directed by Phil Abraham
Written by Carlton Cuse and Regina Corrado
2015, 51 minutes, Rated TV-MA
Episode premiered on September 20th, 2015
Corey Stoll as Dr. Ephraim Goodweather
David Bradley as Abraham Setrakian
Mía Maestro as Dr. Nora Martinez
Kevin Durand as Vasiliy Fet
Jonathan Hyde as Eldritch Palmer
Warning! There are spoilers in this recap.
The Strain was skydiving with intense rush, then poof – pulled the ripcord. The momentum leading in from last episode's ending segued into the opening scene in "Dead End" and slowly scattered through the main plot narrative. Dutch was chained up in a padded room and being held captive by Eichorst, the Master's ever obedient lackey. Jumping right in where the show left off last episode, the pressure was full-on head-pop mode. "What are you going to do to me?" asks Dutch. "Everything," Eichorst replies.
The scenes between Dutch and Eichorst are eerie and disturbing, especially with all the sexual innuendos. After forcing her to eat pineapple ("as a seasoning, pineapple is exquisite"), he demands her to apply lipstick, take off her underwear and bend over. Strigoi are not asexual, as previously depicted. They have no genitals, but since Quinlan is half human/half vamp, they have children somehow. The stinger must be the reproductive organ. Anyways, enough of the strigoi biology talk. Flashbacks of Eichorst as a young man in Germany are bittersweet, relinquishing his mysterious character. Now, he will always be an awkward radio salesman before gaining confidence after joining the Nazi rank. It is also important to note he became evil before he was turned strigoi. These scenes do justice to him as a human character, but do take away his ambiguous malevolence.
While humanizing Eichorst, the trio of Eph, Nora and Fet are on a rescue mission to save Dutch. They run through the city finding clues in cop cars and Franklin Delano Roosevelt's history, eventually leading them to Mayfield hotel where she is imprisoned. Through tense scenes of Eichorst chasing Dutch (apparently mace works on vampires) and the trio running into brick walls, literally, the perusal is a first-rate display from The Strain.
Other than the Eichorst/Dutch rescue mission and flashback scenes, the episode is weak. Gus, Angel and the Gupta family decided to come back into story rotation, detracting from the quality of "Dead End" and the horror brought on from last episode. The concern for the Gupta's is nonexistent, as is Gus's relationship with Aanya. Let them leave New York City, who really gives a shit? Gus makes it seem like she is the love of his life and he's known her for years. He went from a gangster full of machismo to Rico Suave. Who is this guy? Come on showrunners, get it together.
There is another cliffhanger from "The Assassin" being answered in the episode, though it is nowhere as interesting as Dutch/Eichorst narrative. After Setrakian was knocked out after discovering the Lumen, viewers learn Rudyard Fonescu was the culprit and now has possession of the Lumen. Long story short: by episode's end Fonescu is on his way to meet Alonzo Creem, the black market arms dealer. Creem says they can do business, and then the end credits roll.
It seems The Strain considers melodrama as the key to a successful cable television show, which may be true in some aspects. But ultimately the bad-ass vampire show has been consistent with lover's quarrels (Eph/Nora, Dutch/Fet/Nikki, Palmer/Coco, Gus/Aanya, pre-vamp Eichorst/Helga, Setrakian/Occido Lumen) and the unnecessary fluff needed to have an epic horror program. Not that all of the conflicts in personal relationships between characters should be dissipated, but rather handled differently. The paper characters, such as the Gupta family and Nikki, are unnecessary and trite. Yet the show still revolves around these subordinates rather than delving into the homegrown characters the show is built upon. Though this defect tarnishes the episode, the scenes with Eichorst (past and present) keep The Strain afloat and rolling down the rapids.