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The Strain season 2 finale recap: Night Train

Going off the rails on a crazy train, Eph loses his closest ally while Abraham may have found his ticket to stopping the Master.

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Michael Gibson/FX

The Strain

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

After a season that has seen the forces against the Master grow in size as his reign of terror spreads throughout New York, “Night Train,” is a finale that gives as much to the cause as it takes away.

And despite its twists and turns, “Night Train,” does not go off the rails — despite an actual train doing so in the episode. It plays things surprisingly safe for an episode that shifts the status quo of the series.

At the finale’s outset, there are two clear goals Abraham’s team has in mind: Eph and Nora will attempt to safely escort Zack out of the city while Abraham and Fet prepare to bid for the Occido Lumen. But as fate would allow, only one of those ventures is even remotely successful, and it doesn’t come without its price. So let’s start with the bad news first:

Crazy Train

Eph, Zack, and Nora begin their trek out of New York with a mix of sweet and emotionally stilted farewells, as Fet shows off his sensitive side while Abraham has difficulty understanding what a smile is.

The plan is to bring Zack to his grandparents’, with a few stops along the way to prep Eph’s mystical, magical macguffin bioweapon, but almost from the word “go,” the trip is fraught with problems. Leaving from the show’s Penn Station, which is the train station from hell only in name and not at all in look, gunshots ring out from behind the barricade separating the station from the masses. The trio escapes unharmed, waiting for the last train to Clarksville salvation while a make-up less Kelly lurks in the shadows.

When the train finally arrives, they’re met with another horrible plight — having to sit next to a neurotic, paranoid guy clutching his suitcase with such fervor you’d think he was hoping it would become a part of his body. Other than that nuisance, they seem to be in good spirits. Nora and Eph are, if not lovebirds once again, at least genial and even somewhat affectionate toward each other. And Zack hasn’t thrown a whiny fit in over 15 minutes, so the trip should be considered a rousing success.

Until Kelly and her feelers attack, of course. The train hits a bump on the tracks, which is actually a strigoi, followed by dozens of more vamps giving their lives to the cause of derailing the train. They do so successfully at the most inopportune moment — Eph is in the club car while Nora and Zack are still in their seats when the attack comes. Grinding to a halt, the train becomes an easy target that Nora and Zack flee from, hoping Eph will catch up to them.

Unfortunately for Eph, when he leaves the train shortly after in search of Nora and Zack, he gets trapped by a couple feelers. While he battles the creepiest children this side of The Corn, Nora and Zack run into the one strigoi who would orchestrate all of this: Kelly.

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She and Nora face off, but as the latter isn’t much of a shot for the moment, Kelly has to take a few blows from Nora’s sword as Zack is supposed to run away. But he’s there to witness Kelly get the upper hand, unleashing her stinger on Nora. Zack looks on in horror, Nora not dead yet but on her way to the light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel (not the dimly lit train tunnel they’re actually in), and Kelly approaches her son. He asks to see her as she is now, not the fake face she put on for their last meeting. Revealing her true visage, he doesn’t kill it, he hugs the strigoi as if it is still the mother he knew and walks away with her as they leave Nora to die.

(ASIDE: Is it a stupid move? Sure. But here’s a little boy who lost one of the most important people in his life. He now has, in some form, a chance to reconnect with someone he was told was dead, and even in the face of overwhelming evidence that this is not the mother he knew, it’s easy to buy Zack’s behavior here. I wouldn’t necessarily defend what the show’s done with him this season, it’s been one of the weakest points, but at the very least this felt in step with the character. END OF ASIDE.)

Nora doesn’t die before Eph finds her, however, which gives the two a chance to say goodbye. Eph learns of Zack’s indeterminate fate (not yet turned, but that seems to be where he’s heading), and sees by the UV light that Nora is full of worms that, as she says, “It’s done.” And with a strike of her sword against the rail, sending a surge of electricity through her body, she dies in perhaps the show’s most abstractly shot and edited sequence. Sparks fly as she writhes in pain and Eph can only watch as his closest ally in the fight is lost. Hopefully his effort to kill the Master in the future goes a bit better than his attempts to take down Palmer.

NEXT: Always bet on Abraham.