The penultimate episode of any TV season can be frustrating on its own, usually saddled with having to set up every major character and plot moment to come in the finale. “Fallen Light” plays into that stereotype, though the episode tries to abate the problem with flashbacks and the reappearance of Quinlan. (Oh Quinlan, I’ve missed you so much, were you off mulling over spin-off potential?)
Still “Fallen Light” in many respects is about the battle to come in next week’s finale, and likely the continued struggle in season 3. That doesn’t mean the episode was devoid of some fun moments (Gus and Angel teaming up to free a prison full of inmates ranking above the best).
Sadly, however, “Fallen Light” begins with perhaps The Strain’s greatest horror that I thought we had overcome — Eph’s wig. Yes, “Fallen Light” kicks off in 2005, with a not-yet-dead Jim Kent and a not-yet-bald Eph at an infectious disease conference. Eph is there to give a talk, where his findings are publicly challenged by a woman in the crowd, who just so happens to be Nora. (And conveniently, they’re having a similar back-and-forth to their initial disagreements on how to fight the strigoi plague.)
Eph isn’t angry with her behavior though — in fact, he offers her a job because of it. Jim assumes he didn’t hire Nora just for her brilliance, but for now that’s the story Eph is sticking to, even if the two will eventually become more than just coworkers.
Flash-forward to present day, however, and their relationship is much more at odds. Tension hangs between them at headquarters, even as they learn that Kelly’s parents are alive and well in Georgia. They even are able to call and reconnect with Zack, who wants to go see them, an idea Nora thinks should become reality.
Eph is resilient of course, because even if the best parenting tip is not to keep your kid in the middle of a vampire apocalypse when he has perfectly safe and healthy family hundreds of miles away, he still has fought so hard partially to be with his son. In the end, he decides moving Zack out of the city is what’s best for him, so he and Nora venture out to meet Justine, who has just gotten a major promotion (more on that in a minute) to secure permits out of the city. She agrees, particularly after they sweeten the pot by selling her on the idea of helping them mass-produce the bioweapon that will kill the strigoi infection’s chance of proliferating.
And so Zack’s fate seems to be secured, with Nora, Eph, and Zack primed to travel together to his grandparents’ safer location. All will not be well at home though. A far cry from their days passionately hooking up for the first time while a drunk Jim sleeps in the other room, Nora and Eph are still on the rocks, even as he declares his continued love and sincere regret.
So even if things look up for Eph in regard to his talk with Justine, he may not have been so eager to make the deal had he known who Justine just partnered with. While she was receiving pushback from the mayor about her taxing the rich on the Upper East Side, Justine finds herself sitting pretty by the end of “Fallen Light.” As long as you ignore the angry protesters demanding she resign.
Though the mayor threatens to have the city council deal with her, that threat becomes a moot point when the mayor turns up dead. NYPD detective Paul Sampson suspects Justine and her men, but so far as she or Kowalski know, they did nothing to cause his death.
Then Eldritch Palmer, the perfect prime suspect for suspicious murders in a lawless New York, appears by Justine’s side. He offers his services—in exchange for a big payday when this cataclysm is all over—and helps her secure a position as Special Director of Security for New York City.
NEXT: Eichhorst tries to regain control and Gus is given a terrible task. [pagebreak]
Palmer is covering all of his bases, but he learns quite quickly that he can’t attempt to take control of the entire city on his own. He needs the Master, and as Eichhorst reveals, more than Palmer and Coco could have ever known.
Eichhorst comes to visit his business associate with two concerns. The first is whether Palmer can actually play Justine like the puppet he wants, but of paramount importance to Eichhorst is another of Palmer’s dealings — the Occido Lumen. Palmer has been in touch with Alfonso Creem about selling off the book, but Eichhorst has no intention of letting Palmer carry out the bidding. He will attend as the Master desires, and Palmer is forced to agree to his terms after learning the drop of white that revived him and Coco is not permanent. They will need more to stay alive, and that will only be provided if they follow the Master’s bidding.
But Palmer doesn’t look eager to do so even after agreeing, so it won’t be a surprise to see some derision among the Master’s ranks come bidding time. But the Master isn’t the only one concerned about the Lumen’s fate. Abraham and Fet meet with Creem expecting to trade for the Lumen on the spot. But when they learn Palmer is involved and that Creem could care less what he plans to do with the book, the one-time transaction turns into a bank deposit.
(ASIDE: The fallout of Dutch’s ordeal last week doesn’t amount to much in this episode, though her struggle to find her place in life is clearly not over. She tells Fet she’s leaving him to try to make things work with Nikki, and Fet, trying to be the good guy, doesn’t fight her on it. He wants her to do what she thinks is best for her life. Even if that means living it without him. Unfortunately for Dutch, when she attempts to make things right with Nikki, she finds her chosen one has her own plan in mind. She’s leaving with her mother, knowing that it’s not Dutch’s style to settle down in life. And so she’s left having abandoned one love for another that abandoned her. END OF ASIDE)
Creem relieves Abraham of a watch that goes for $1.75 million, while asking them to come back tomorrow with enough gold to outbid Palmer. Abraham agrees and relays the information to Quinlan, who promises that the gold won’t be an issue. He’s wary of Abraham, however, and believes the Ancients will need some convincing that he won’t use the Lumen to just kill them.
Quinlan is working on a plan to ensure that Abraham doesn’t keep the book for himself, however, and it involves Gus. Now with Angel, Gus is working to recruit a human army to fight on Quinlan’s behalf, and he decides the best way to do so is by breaking out some prisoners from Rikers Island.
There might be 14,000 turned inmates, but the duo takes the risk and breaks into the prison with a school bus. Once inside, they make their way to a control room (after passing a few strigoi nests and a still-alive guard locked in a cell who used to beat Gus) to open up a cellblock full of healthy prisoners.
Essentially quarantined, there’s several pairs of hands dying to secure their freedom, and with Gus offering them weapons and a purpose, they follow suit. Well, most of them do. Some of them decide to exact revenge on that guard, only for some strigoi to devour them in the process. And once they’re outside, Gus is met with an opposing force, his friend Perez, who would rather lead the group. He threatens to kill Gus, so Angel, wanting to protect his new friend, makes good on a similar threat and blasts a hole through Perez. The rest of the inmates decide to avoid that fate and follow Gus and Angel onto the bus.
With reinforcements secured, Quinlan has one more task for Gus, to convince Abraham to hand over the Lumen once he has it. If convincing doesn’t quite work, there’s one other option: kill him.
And just like that, the season finale is starting to sound a lot more interesting.