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'The Strain' recap: 'Identity'

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Michael Gibson/FX

The Strain

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

Nobody had a good day during “Identity.” Even when things appeared to be looking up, the day inevitably proved just how close to death they are on a daily basis because of their given task—and how that proximity is sometimes a guarantee. Death came knocking for the newest member of the group, while several others stepped right up to the brink of it, as Kelly and her feelers closed in on Zack, and Eph’s journey to Washington, D.C., took a dark turn.

Let’s start with the latter, as Eph’s fight to mass produce a way to halt the spread of strigoi looked to be going well for the vast majority of “Identity.” A little too well, though. For a show with a five-year plan, things appeared too beneficial for Eph’s fight this early in the game, and the end of “Identity” proved the path to victory is not as short as he thought.

Eph meets up with his friend Robert in D.C., where the two catch up, though Eph remains vague about some of his journey so far. But he tells him enough about the state of New York and what he’s been working on to convince his friend that action must be taken.

Luckily, Robert has made plenty of friends in Washington—and hopefully not too many enemies with his playboy lifestyle—and he connects Eph, under the guise of Jonathan Crowley, to Lee Thompson, who works at a chemical company that could facilitate Eph’s ambitions.

She is certainly open to it. Lee is impressed by everything Eph has put together—and it doesn’t hurt that she has the hots for him. With Nora apparently nothing but a distant memory, Eph sleeps with Lee, and though he initially thinks she did so in order to goad him into signing an NDA to hand over his work, she seems to really care for him.

Not only that, she believes in his work, and with the help of her personal recommendation, she helps to push Eph’s formula through to the testing and acceptance phases. Other than a general Robert contacted for help suggested Stoneheart as a possible ally—Eph, understandably, refused to work with them—everything seems to be turning up Ephraim. Maybe he should stay bald!

But alas, all good things must come to an end. In this case, it’s a bloody one. Eph and Lee, feeling particularly pleased with the results of their work so far, return to Robert’s home to celebrate. Thinking they have the house to themselves, they decide to go upstairs to… well we never find out what (I’ll just assume it was to sit in separate chairs and watch Seinfeld reruns because Eph has Nora waiting for him back in New York City). They come to Robert’s room only to find him lying dead on the carpet, and the assailant is still in the room. He shoots down Lee and lands a slug in Eph’s chest, but Eph returns fire and takes out the baddie before he dies.

It’s too late for Lee, though, she dies in Eph’s arms, realizing only too late that she doesn’t know the man crouching above her as she slips away. At least Eph knows who to see revenge against—he discovers a Stoneheart passcode screen on the guy’s phone. It seems Eph can’t escape the shadow of Stoneheart’s blight of a skyscraper even all the way in the country’s capital.

Not that Eph would have gotten away clean in New York. They may retain their numbers with Fitzwilliam joining the gang, but unfortunately there’s plenty of danger now that Kelly is hot on their trail. Fitz can’t offer them too much information on the Master’s plan. He knows where Eichhorst and Palmer are buying property, but other than that he can really only offer his strigoi extermination services.

NEXT: Another one bites the dust.[pagebreak]

And those services are called upon on the very day he enlists in the hunt. Nora and Zack took a trip to Feraldo’s headquarters, where she reveals Red Hook is nearly vampire-free. But the loss of her nephew and the struggle of the fight has made her more cautious, so she has a policeman escort Eph and Zack home.

Little good that does them. The feelers, led by Kelly, ambush the ride, killing the cop and forcing Nora and Zack to run for dear life. They flee to a poorly secured church, barring the door behind them as they search for a hiding spot. The agile feelers make their way into the church via the stained glass windows and open the way for Kelly to follow, but Nora and Zack gain a lead by trapping them in the basement playroom.

That lead only lasts so long, however. Kelly and her creepy kids escape, and almost capture their prey, but Abraham and the crew appear just before Nora and Zack become strigoi food. (Nora made a quick call back to homebase while Kelly was locked away.) They drive Kelly away, but not before a feeler infects Fitzwilliam. Seriously, the guy just joins the fight for good and he’s rewarded with a quick death? It makes all that effort to turn him around seem pointless, though maybe his brother has a brighter, hopefully longer future in the fight.

Abraham gives him a swift death, decapitating him before empty row after empty row of pews, no one but his supposed friends there to witness his end. (Really of all the deaths on the show so far, this feels like one of the most unfair. Fitz seemed like he was given a second chance only for it to be snatched away. But it’s a sign that the strigoi have no idea of “fair” in mind. The longer it’s been since I’ve seen the episode, the less the death seems wrong and the more it feels like a sign of the haphazard nature of the fight.)

Gus is a little more successful in his strigoi battle. He’s taken to hanging around the Tandoori Palace and his former idol the Silver Angel. While he continues to fall for the waitress who first welcomed him there, he’s also trying to make Angel like him. He learns Angel is stuck in the moment of his accident that prevented him from ever wrestling again, but he can’t shake the desire to celebrate what Angel accomplished. He angrily tells Gus the truth, but that doesn’t suddenly make the two close friends. Angel refuses to let Gus go out with his new crush, and so he decides to join the two on a delivery trip that turns sour.

A few strigoi attack the trio in the hallway of an apartment building, where Gus puts his training to use. Unfortunately, Angel needs to pitch in, further injuring himself and likely still angry at Gus. Perhaps not just as much, though.

Gus’ training with Vaun and the Ancients may have come in handy, but it seems the Ancients are up to much more than enlisting human hunters. The mysterious figure who appeared in “Quick and Painless” is after the Master as well, but he finds the work the Ancients have done to be utterly deplorable. He’ll hunt down their misled brother, but he’ll do it his own way, as long as they can provide him with some day-hunting humans.

Finding and capturing the Master has suddenly become more of a challenge, though. While his lack of interaction with Palmer may be causing friction with the man who thinks himself to be the Master’s partner, the powerful strigoi has solved at least one of his problems. He’s found a new body to replace his decaying one, and it’s not Eichhorst’s body as the Master’s loyal servant hoped it would be. Instead, he’s chosen Bolivar, transferring his essence via worm vomit (though thankfully not in as nearly voluminous fashion as in the season premiere) and assuming his new, powerful form. And despite his surprise, Eichhorst dutifully kisses the ring, as the fight against New York’s meanest strigoi just became that much more difficult.