The Strain - Season 2 Episode 6: "Identity" TV Episode Review

Written by Giuseppe Infante

Official Site

 

Directed by Howard Deutch
Written by Justin Britt-Gibson
2015, 47 minutes, Rated TV-MA
Episode premiered on August 16th, 2015

Starring:
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

Review:

Warning! There are spoilers in this recap.

Halfway through season two of The Strain and the show is in full swing. This week's installment unravels at a medium pace, advancing the stories, characters and status of the epidemic. Eph is in Washington while Zach is back with Nora and company. Kelly finally gets near Zach, trying to capture him via her vamp-kids, but she doesn't get close enough. Palmer and Eichorst squabble about the Master; meanwhile he is entering Bolivar's body. Angel and Gus are bonding, developing an older/younger brother relationship. Setrakian, Fet and Fitzwilliam are hanging around doing something without Dutch, who is missing from this episode. Is she holed up or hungover? Did I miss something? Other than a missing Dutch, the episode is executed with precision, embedded with shocks, thrills and sorrow.

The episode is heavy on Eph's rendezvous in Washington, as he is gung-ho on infecting the infected with his new "bio-weapon." Along the way he gets help from his old college buddy, Robert Bradley, and a frisky politician, Leigh Thomas, to try and get distribution. Eph and Leigh get it on without hesitating about his relationship with Nora, who is watching his son back in NYC. They get the approval for field testing to begin, but then the duo helping Eph fall to their demise. Eph and Leigh arrive at Rob's home only to find him 'whacked' by someone in the Stoneheart group. The assassin shoots Leigh without a thought and proceeds to shoot Eph, though he only gets his arm. In a quick retaliation, he shoots back, killing the assassin. The scenes with Eph in Washington are excruciating to watch, in a good way. During this screen time, the feel of betrayal is in the air, though seeing Rob and Leigh die on Eph's side makes an impact. At least Nora won't find out about Leigh now… I think.

Another death this week is poor Fitzwilliam. He finally was part of the good guys, exposing his old boss's weaknesses and how to infiltrate the Stoneheart group. But before he dies we are greeted by Kelly and a couple of feelers. After tracking down Zach, the vamps chase him and Nora into a church. The two open up to each other in one of the early scenes, where Nora calls him "young man" after he asks how she is doing. Finally, he is not being a little bratty bastard! Back at the church there are a few chase and hide scenes between Kelly and the feelers and Nora and Zach. Eventually, they are about to be compromised and the trio of Setrakian, Fet and Fitz come to save the day. They kill the two feelers, Kelly escapes and Fitzwilliam is bit. He knows this is the end, and asks to tell his brother about his attempt at helping the cause. Then Setrakian decapitates him, leaving his headless body to thud to the ground. All the excitement of his recent switch to the 'good' side and joining their ranks is put down quickly, as this was not expected.

 

And something else not expected to see this week is a rift between Palmer and Eichorst. As the Master has been missing in action the past few weeks, his presence is still felt. Palmer is questioning Eichorst and demanding to meet with the Master, who he refers to as his "partner." Little does he know he is just a pawn in the Master's plan for a strigoi takeover. The Master, on the other hand, has finally transferred his being into Bolivar. Unlike his worm/maggot puke transfer in the opening directed by del Toro in the first episode of this season, this transfer is just a quick chuck in Bolivar's face. Eichorst was definitely dejected when not being chosen to be the host, he is referred to as the Master's "special child." Maybe this scene is foreshadowing Eichorst's turncoat move on the Master? We'll see how it all plays out.

Two more subplots evolve through this episode. Angel and Gus are out with the restaurateurs' daughter, Aanya, to make a delivery ($50 fee does not do justice for the epidemic out there!). They encounter a couple of vamps in the apartment building, and Gus makes quick to rid the parasites. The two boys are bonding, with some slight arguing. As if Aanya hadn't played enough mind games to show she has the hots for Gus, saving her ass should be solid confirmation. The other story here revolves around a new vampire assassin. He deploys from an ice truck in the opening sequence, and we see his visit with the Ancients. He questions their motives on why they have yet to rid the Master, as it should have been done long, long ago. He seems like a more bad-ass Vaun, mostly because he trained him and the other vamp-soldiers. Demanding more humans for the daytime hunt, he also wants to know who harmed the Master. He claims to have felt this, which leads me to believe he is an Ancient himself. Hopefully we don't have to wait two weeks to see him in action.

With the differing stories being told, they are blended well and do not overshadow each other , with exception of Eph in Washington. That is the main plotline here, and deserves to be. It provides social context on where the epidemic is, as it is spreading to other major cities - and fast. Though Dutch is absent, the interaction with Zach and Kelly is done well. Viewers get a taste of Kelly's pursuit of Zach, but they still have yet to come face to face and exchange words. This is one of the more compelling parts of the season, next to seeing Eph on the lam trying to cure the population, while we watch the disease spread and affect different parts of society. These two arcs are expected to evolve and carry through the second half of the season, and if executed as the first half has, will leave us yearning for some more blood next summer.

Grades:

Episode: 4.5 Star Rating Cover
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