Entertainment Weekly

Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


'The Strain' recap: 'The Assassin'

Posted on

Michael Gibson/FX

The Strain

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
David Bradley, Corey Stoll, Mia Maestro
Drama, Horror, Thriller

After the scale of last week’s battle for Red Hook, The Strain took things to a more personal place in “The Assassin,” particularly focusing on the continuing efforts of Eph and Abraham. The former’s desire to kill Palmer and the latter’s to find the Occido Lumen and take down the Master drive the actions of Fet, Nora, and Dutch as their individual plights take a backseat to Abraham, Eph, and, surprisingly, Palmer’s worries as the larger battle for New York takes a personal turn.

Eph is finally making good on his promise to kill Eldritch Palmer, spying on Stoneheart with Dutch from a neighboring skyscraper. If this duo strikes you as an odd pairing, you’re not alone — even Eph is surprised Dutch to come along with him for the mission. Not that he’s disappointed to have her around, as she helped secure the tech necessary to spy on the heavily protected Stoneheart tower.

But her real reason for being there isn’t her good-natured charity. She wants to escape the romantic woes currently plaguing her life, as she struggles with having feelings toward both Fet and Nikki. Dutch doesn’t want to have to choose — she’d rather rationalize that loving both of them is perfectly natural and that the forced monogamy of society goes against a human’s very nature.

Eph doesn’t play along with Dutch’s emotional philosophy — to him, life’s about choices, and he believes Dutch will have to make one when it comes to whom she stays with in the end. For now, the assassination mission is enough to keep her preoccupied, however. At first it’s as boring as stakeouts presumably so often are unless they’re being done on an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. But when Palmer and Coco return to his office, where the mayor comes by for a visit, they finally have a reason to pay attention.

They mayor wants Palmer to talk some sense into Justine. While he’s convinced her to bring the strigoi extermination process to the Upper East Side to satisfy the city’s wealthy, Justine isn’t there to be a lackey of the mayor’s. She institutes a price as payment for the services to be rendered by her team—one percent of each citizen’s property wealth, delivered in gold, silver, or other pre-approved items.

She’s faced with charges of extortion and general anger from the masses, but she argues that the people of Red Hook paid with their blood in the battle. The wealthier crowd in this neighborhood is less likely to do the same, she assumes, so she’ll happily accept their belongings.

The mayor, who does not want to upset this crowd, can’t seem to shake Justine of her convictions, so he asks Palmer to intervene. Though they’ve never met, the mayor hopes Palmer’s presence in the city will be enough to force her to give up her demands. He’ll meet Justine where she’s holding her conferences to the people, providing Eph and Dutch with a perfect opportunity to attack.

Palmer agrees, perhaps thinking some show of kindness to the city, as well as his ability to command a room, will impress Coco, who is still angry with him after his persistent refusal to reveal to her what he’s really up to.

Palmer goes to her apartment to initially make amends — he’s shocked that she walks up several flights of stairs every day and practically has to force himself not to be afraid that he’ll get some middle class germs on him if he enters the building.

She’s not completely moved by his proclamation that she saved him after a life of pain and isolation, but she takes his pleas as genuine enough to go along with him to his office just in time for the impromptu meeting with the mayor.

Coco also travels with him to Justine’s location, neither of them aware Dutch and Eph are perched on a rooftop across the street, sniper rifle in Eph’s hands. Dutch has prepped their escape route for them and is there to calm the doctor as he prepares to take his shot.

Though she peps him up with talk of his current badass situation being a far cry from her initial impression of him, Eph is still nervous. As Palmer arrives, he’s desperate to take the shot and end it, but Palmer’s detail obscures Eph’s shot. Finally, after some Dutch-enforced patience, he finds a clear moment to take aim and fire.

The shot rings out, Palmer and a few of his guard dropping to the ground. Eph takes one last look through his scope, sees Palmer on the ground, and begins his escape with Dutch. Unfortunately, police are closing in fast, so they try to take a shortcut through the halls of the building they’re scaling.

NEXT: Eph and Abraham enjoy some short-lived success. [pagebreak]

They try to pass off as a couple casually strolling down the sidewalk once they make their way outdoors, but Eph foolishly bumps into the one cop who apparently recognizes Eph and starts chasing them through a nearby alley. It looks like Eph and Dutch may escape, but the two are surrounded and hauled into a local precinct.

To make things worse, although Eph does not know it, he sadly missed his mark. Palmer is alive and well, but not emotionally so. The bullet missed him but hit Coco, who he immediately rushes into surgery, which conveniently takes place at his office.

Palmer is clearly shaken — whatever despicable nature he may truly hold, he does care for Coco and wants to see her through. But the doctors warn her while they do stabilize her, they can’t say for sure whether she’ll ever wake up from her coma.

Out of options thanks to those pesky human doctors, Palmer turns to the only other solution he can think of: the Master. Eichhorst comes to visit Palmer, and the latter, still under the delusion that he’s a full partner with the Master, demands his assistance.

Eichhorst chides him, even as Palmer threatens to pull out all of his support for the plan. And while it’s likely the Master doesn’t truly consider Palmer a partner, he needs him enough to grant his request, coming to visit Coco and save her with a drop of his blood.

But this solution creates another problem. Coco wakes up with the Master standing above her bed and Palmer a few feet away looking surprisingly calm for a man in the same room as a demonic creature. When the Master disappears, he rushes to Coco’s side, promising to tell her everything now that she shares in the immortal blood of the strigoi, but it would be a total shock if she takes that discussion well.

Eph learns of his failure in perhaps the worst way possible: Palmer appears before him in the police station. The cop who arrested him is clearly in cahoots with Palmer, clearing out the room beforehand, and dragging Dutch out of the cell to give Eph and Palmer some alone time.

The two mortal enemies engage in a powerful back and forth, face-to-face and are able to take as many shots at one another as the current situation will allow. Palmer calls Eph’s plan utter folly, suggesting he give in to the strigoi once and for all. Eph chides him for siding with evil, and attempts to talk some sense into Palmer by calling into question his “partnership” with the Master. Why in any world would an ancient, powerful supernatural being team up with a human and just share in his success with him?

It’s not enough to make Palmer sway his position, but at least finally someone has spoken the truth to him, even if he’s reticent to accept it. Instead, he has other plans for Eph, sending in a group of strigoi to invade and kill everyone in the police station. They largely succeed, taking down cop after cop until only Eph, literally with his back against the cell wall, fending for his life without a weapon against a troupe of strigoi. It seems like Eph’s death is upon him, but luckily, his arrest was well publicized.

Abraham has been out all day with Fet and Nora searching for Rudyard Fonescu, who they believe may have the Occido Lumen. They have a list of R. Fonescu’s in the city, and they spend the day crossing them off one by one. They turn up empty-handed at an apartment still blasting dubstep and full of flashing strobe lights, but the only occupants are strigoi.

Another lead seems promising, an apartment full of books, but it sadly does not belong to the Fonescu Abraham once met. While at his apartment, however, they hear a news story on the radio about the arrest of a man and woman. Fet, aware of Eph’s desire to kill Palmer, decides to go find and save them. He takes Nora with him while Abraham, stays behind — to him, the book is much more important than their friends, whose sacrifice will be remembered.

Abraham continues the search, eventually making his way to an unassuming apartment where he finds a trapdoor underneath the carpet. And there it is, wrapped in cloth. The Lumen is sitting beneath the floorboards of this apartment, and it looks like Abraham has finally achieved his goal… until he’s punched in the head by an unknown assailant who robs him of the book. (Fonescu? Gus aiding Quinlan? Or someone worse?)

And though Abraham’s day ends in failure, things go better for Eph, who is saved by Nora and Fet. The duo comes chopping through the strigoi horde to free him. They then force the cop who arrested Eph — presumably spared for his assistance to Palmer — where Dutch was taken. All he has is a location, but he doesn’t know what’s been done to her.

“The Assassin” ends with a reveal of her fate, however, and it’s a dark one. Eichhorst has her chained to a Saw-like trap, cranking the chain through a piece of metal in the middle of the room. You might want to hurry, Fet.