Martin Carr reviews the season finale episode of The Strain season 2…
A slaughter house and the promise of processed carcasses is one stark metaphor for a finale. In this respect The Strain spares no quarter in its desire to push the boundaries of expectation. Like a grand high executioner Eichorst bears witness to this feat of human engineering. Congratulating the foreman who is doing little more than constructing his own means of disposal. It is a gruesome throwback to historical methods of mass genocide as embodied by Sammel’s character.
As we enter the final hour of Season Two our compatriots are divided by distance, but united in purpose. With the promise of betrayal hanging between Eichorst and Setrakian, you can taste the years of pent up resentment, harboured by both in their pursuit of this holy relic. With monies lined up and a suitably biblical setting for this most gentlemanly showdown, they get the party started.
Across town Gus and Quinlan have decided what the course of action must be. While Ephraim and Nora are awaiting the ‘Night Train’. It remains disconcerting that Feraldo has been so easily compromised. A telling character trait which reveals her nature to be one obsessed with achieving individual aims ahead of moral cost. Whether this proves to a calculated play is something which will have to wait for an eagerly awaited Season Three.
Beyond possession of the Occido Lumen there are relationships and lines drawn in this final episode which require discussion. Not least of which would be the demise of Coco. A pillar against which Palmer had placed considerable weight. His undoing in this final episode could either be a step too far for The Master, or Palmer’s eventual salvation. Which remains to be seen. Outside of this is the real set piece of episode thirteen the derailment.
Like an old Seventies disaster movie this train sequence brings together Ep, Nora and Zack in closed quarters. Similar to the original Taking of Pelham 123 there is a sense of expectation and tension which runs through these scenes. Even though we know that Kelly is watching and a confrontation is inevitable, this fails to impact on the enjoyment. Throwing a good chunk of production budget at things also helps immensely. There are moments of inky blackness combined with separation, as Ep disappears to the bar car. His need for a drink outweighing the necessity to stay close.
What they have done here is set up the battle we knew was always coming. Nora against Kelly in a fight for maternal rights. Brandishing her sword and shielding Zack from the monster his mother has become, we root for Nora in a fight she looks set to win. Across town Fet and Setrakian are besieged by ‘munchers’, holed up in a bakery van. Until artillery comes to the rescue and they hot foot it to the docks. In these closing moments there is understanding reached between opposing forces. Quinlan, Gus, The Silver Angel, Setrakian and Fet. What started out as a rag tag band of survivors has morphed into something else altogether. A highly trained killer, street thug, explosives expert and keeper of The Lumen. As Bradley’s voice over kicks in over these closing images you feel a pang, as The Strain concludes leaving you wanting. That people is how you end a season.