The hunt for the Master heads deep underground.
What They Say:
The Third Rail – Setrakian leads Eph, Fet and Nora in the hunt for the Master’s lair; Zack risks his safety for Mariela’s sake.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Strain did a very good job last time around with what it did in focusing on Kelly by giving us a back track story with a couple of nicely timed flashbacks showing her relatively quick descent into the change. Providing that alongside the material of Eph tracing her steps throughout parts of the city and realizing what’s going on was definitely a series of strong moments as they forced him to not only deal with what she’s likely become, but for him to deal more with some of those that had changed. With the way Eph wasn’t exactly believing a lot of this early on to where he is now, it was a key moment in him accepting the reality of the situation and that saving those infected isn’t likely to be possible, especially in the short term. Realizing that at the same time that he realizes Kelly is one of them is just brutal.
It’s largely been difficult to be proactive in this situation since there’s such a strain of disbelief in general, which is understandable. While Setrakian was doing his best to be ahead of this, the situation was decently planned by Eichorst and there was plenty of small moments where they could have made a difference but simply wouldn’t have really understood it. Now that we’ve had the group slowly coming together and an acceptance of events that are going on and what it all means, the proactive side is definitely fun to watch. Fet’s trying to build something that will give them an edge with the light they need to go after the Master and Eph and Setrakian are pretty much along for it, though hoping for more real results. There’s some decent character bits that comes into all of this, particularly through Nora’s mother and what we get from Setrakian about it, and it helps to humanize them more.
Gus’ life hasn’t gone well since he got involved with Eichorst and even more so since the Master came to town. After surviving what happened on the transport with Felix, he’s now ended up back home and you know it’s going to be a shit situation there for him. With his brother having been infected, it’s a rough moment but it’s one that he just goes and does what’s needed, not just for his brother to ensure that he’s dead, but to make sure that he himself isn’t caught in a bad situation because of a poorly done kill. But there’s still a lot of emotion involved in this even as he does it, but it doesn’t go over the top. It’s fairly restrained and realistic, which is part of the appeal of the whole situation. The harder side of it here is when he discovers his mother has been infected as well. He’s done so much for her over the years that to see her in this state and deal with it simply isn’t easy.
With everyone leaving Setrakian’s to go find the Master, all we have left there is Zack and Nora’s mother Mariela. That’s an unlikely as hell combination to be sure, especially as her mind is getting worse and worse with what she can handle. And Zack wants to be a part of things to help, so having him in that protected basement with a whole lot of weapons is pretty dangerous in itself as well. Of course, the story has to go in a bad way as we get her freaking out over her lack of cigarettes and causing trouble, which has Zack taking the keys to go out and get her some. Cause at the end of the world, kids can buy cigarettes with ease. Admittedly, shops are pretty much abandoned at this point so it does make sense, but Zack ends up in a worse situation because of it with infected people and scavengers looking for things to survive and trade. What’s useful though is that he has a chance encounter with Gus, albeit briefly, who we now see is doing the same thing as Fet when you get down to it.
The part of the episode focusing on the hunting group heading down to the lower levels of the city to try and find where the Master may be is a bit simple in a way as they don’t have a hard and firm plan of where to go, but it’s not quite the same level of just wandering around. What they do though is to go through the material remains of a lot of the people that were taken at the start of all this, which is pretty heart wrenching when you see the pieces of it that are in play. There’s some good tension to be had as they move through the lower levels and what’s there, but there’s also the increased tension between Eph and Fet as Eph really doesn’t like him and Fet is just tired of the kinds of accusations Eph is throwing around.
The hunt for the strigoli is rather creepy overall, but it hits a whole other level when there’s none left to be found in the lower levels. At least until they come across a burrowed out tunnel, a very tight tunnel, that Eph goes through first. It could be a trap of course, but in the end it just turns into an incredibly dangerous sequence as the strigoli come up from behind as they start making their way through. You really have to feel bad for Setrakian in trying to get through this, though he at least asks for help from Eph. Of course, Eph is falling to Kelly’s voice as she’s being used to toy with him for the Master’s own goal of eliminating a real threat. The way the tunnel is dealt with is admittedly quick, but it’s a great moment of tension as you can’t quite be sure who will make it through it or not.
Having Eph make actual contact with the Master is really well done though, as I wasn’t sure if they’d bring him again so soon after that first appearance. But Eph’s intent on ending all of this has him pushing forward hard and the two have a great encounter, one that reinforces to Eph how powerless he is in the face of this kind of evil. The group dynamic is what saves the day, and you have to love the way that Fet is getting a high off of what’s going on as he sees so many of them getting taken down. It’s a solid moment, but one that doesn’t end as they’d hope since it’s harder to kill the Master than they thought. Setrakian in particular takes a hard hit during this, but he’s also strong enough to push back against both Eph and Fet over what they’ve done to get so close yet so far. The best though is the real meaning to him trashing the Master’s coffin, since we saw all the flashback pieces exploring its creation.
The scale of the problem has been big for quite some time and it’s been obvious how bad it is, but you have to love those final seconds that just really reinforces how many have fallen to this and are now basically being kept in reserve in order to go all out when the time is ready. The show has some really awkward stuff with Zack and Mariela, as one would expect, but the rest of the show is pretty strong. I liked Gus’ arc as we see him getting on the right side of things now and just doing what needs doing while we also get the rest of the core group going deep underground to try and find the Master. I like the idea of taking the fight right to the big guy, but there’s also the fact that you can get only so far with that at this point. Tense, creepy and so tantalizingly close that you just can’t wait to see what they’ll do next. I’ve been having fun with this show from the start and it’s holding up very well for me and I’m exciting to see what the next two episodes of the season will give us.