For a show filled with creatures of the night, The Strain has kept to the daylight a surprising amount in recent episodes. Not only that, but it’s forsaken some of the more simple horrors of season 1 for its more grandiose scale in season 2. (And no, repeated vomiting of worms DOES NOT count as scary.)
But “Dead End” dialed up the show’s tendency toward horror, pulling from monster movies, torture porn, and a few other subgenres for an episode that had some surprisingly dark undertones.
Unfortunately, The Strain’s means of doing so is to put Dutch in a somewhat damsel-in-distress-esque situation, even if she is instrumental in conducting her own escape. As glimpsed at the end of “The Assassin,” Eichhorst has her locked up, a chained collar around her neck, in a hotel room. And by way of a cop, we realize his intentions for her. He forces the policeman to down a bottle of alcohol so that when he sucks out his blood, Eichhorst has made a living cocktail for tonight’s feast.
And he intends to do the same to Dutch, albeit in a perversely sexualized way. He forces her to eat some pineapple for exactly the reasons you may be assuming. He wants to sweeten her up, and though Dutch knows he might not exactly be packing downstairs what with being a reanimated vampire and all, he has other, vile, means of killing.
Eichhorst essentially means to rape Dutch with his stinger, forcibly applying lipstick to her mouth and then demanding she remove her pants. Eichhorst crouches, preparing for one despicably gross act before Dutch turns around and shoots most of a bottle of pepper spray in his face. It temporarily subdues her attacker, and burns a bit of his precious painted face off, allowing Dutch to grab the keys and free herself from this hellish nightmare.
And Eichhorst’s reasons for doing it seem to boil down to the clichéd reason of a lost love, one that came about just as he joined the Nazi party. Before being second-in-command to a powerful supernatural being, Eichhorst was a meek door-to-door salesman who wasn’t particularly good at his job.
What kept him going, however, seems to be the opportunity to see a secretary at work every day. Eichhorst is quite taken with Helga, who tries to bolster his spirits one day after a demoralizing speech from his boss in front of the entire office. He is so smitten that he asks her out to dinner on the spot, but the romantic if awkward night turns south when a Nazi party member stands up in the middle of the restaurant to give a speech.
He points around the room, saying Germany needs people to stand up and protect it. People like you, you, and yes, you Eichhorst. He’s of course taken with the idea, proselytizing about how wunderbar the speech was on the walk home. Helga disagrees, and is shocked with how Eichhorst speaks of the Jews. It’s made all the worse when she reveals she and her family are Jewish, and Eichhorst scrambles to keep her around. He obviously didn’t mean her and her family. Hitler is cool with that kind of Jew! He just hates all the other Jewish people outside of Germany who Eichhorst doesn’t happen to have a massive crush on. Just a misunderstanding, he tries to argue, but Helga sees she was wrong about him. He’s not destined for greatness. He’s right where he belongs.
NEXT: Eichhorst’s descent begins.[pagebreak]
Bad at his job, bad with the ladies, and just generally lost in life, Eichhorst naturally joins the Nazi party and finds himself at once with the power and respect he’s always wanted, even if it stems from fear, not love. He’s tested when he is brought in front of a fellow Nazi officer who has Helga. She claims to have had a relationship with Eichhorst under fear that her family is about to be deported, but Eichhorst only admits to the most tangential of work relationships.
Not only that, but he accuses her of having stolen money while they worked together, saving Eichhorst’s place in the party but condemning Helga to a much worse fate. Later on, he comes across a few public hangings, dead bodies in the square for all to see. Among them is Helga, and Eichhorst is crushed, but his fellow Nazis are looking on. So he pretends to care about her as much as he does his discarded cigarette, but the experience has clearly jolted him.
Still, while it might explain why a man whose life caused him to lose the girl of his dreams would treat another woman with such disgusting actions, it feels particularly gruesome. Eichhorst, in the present day, eventually regains his strength and begins chasing Dutch through the boarded up halls of the hotel. She literally hits brick wall after brick wall, until she finds a staircase to escape down… which just so happens to be sealed up several floors below.
Trapped, Eichhorst, who calmly walks though the halls as he chases her, hits her, grabs her by the ankle, and drags her back up the flights of stairs she just descended. Luckily, Fet, Nora, and Eph have found an underground entrance to the hotel, and arrive at the opposite side of the brick wall that ended Dutch’s attempts to flee. Fet, ever the real-life Wile E. Coyote, blows up the wall with dynamite, and the three make it upstairs in time to save Dutch.
A silver grenade causes Eichhorst to let his prey go, but he also escapes before they can hunt him down in the process. Fet takes Dutch in his arms as she sobs into his shoulder, the weight of the entire experience crashing down around her. The trauma is and should affect her. Hopefully it’s used as more than device to draw Dutch and Fet close together, because if so there are plenty of less disgusting ways to do so than the sadly common TV trope of rape as character-building/plot device. (Obviously the show needs to show the story beyond this week for that critique to hold any weight, and I’m completely willing to give The Strain that time. I just don’t want it to be for naught.)
Another member of the team is trapped, albeit in a much less dangerous situation. Rudyard Fonescu has tied up Abraham after Setrakian broke into the former’s house to obtain the lumen. Roger is quite aware of what he has on his hands, and hints that there have been other interested parties inquiring about purchasing it. But he has his own plans for the book. He leaves Setrakian to untie himself and stumble out into the night, the Lumen once again having escaped his grasp.
And what’s Fonescu up to? Well he’s hoping to do business with the familiar face of Alonso Creem, who Abraham initially approached about finding the book. Are things looking up for the aging strigoi hunter, or does Alonso have other plans for the Lumen?
Putting Alonso in a position of power shifts the struggle building in New York, which has been further complicated by the all-too-infrequent presence of Quinlan. He’s enlisted Gus, who, though his heart may belong to Aanya, knows he belongs in New York seeing this battle to its conclusion. He helps the Gupta family escape out of town safely, and expects Angel to be with them and continue to secure their lives. He agrees to help… but really, the former wrestler wants to join in the fight.
Once he helps them cross the city border, Angel returns to Gus’ side, providing Quinlan with one more unexpected ally in the fight. They better start gearing up for a battle though. The Master likely won’t rest idly by before the season’s up.