Things didn’t exactly end well for our gang of vampire hunters in the season 1 finale of The Strain. Sure, they damaged The Master, but he still roams in the shadows of a crumbling New York. And he has no intention of letting Abraham and the others slow him down.
Unfortunately for him, there are forces at work far beyond his grasp, as the seeds of an unexpected alliance are sewn in “BK, NY.”
But first, The Strain deems it best that the audience understand the enemy presumably so that when he hopefully falls it’s all the more satisfying. “BK, NY” opens with a flashback prologue to a young Abraham—even younger than we saw him last season—being told one of his favorite stories by his grandmother.
It is in fact the story of The Master, who was once a man named Jusef Sardu. Suffering from gigantism (and the trope-y syndrome of being a gentle giant), Jusef still led a good life. His brother, however, grew ashamed of Jusef’s presence, hoping to heal him with the blood of a great gray wolf. As their hunting party ventures out into the forest, the group is picked off one by one until only Jusef remains. He stumbles upon a strigoi, who decides to abandon its decaying body for Jusef’s much stronger vessel.
It does so by… vomiting hundreds if not thousands of worms onto Jusef just to make sure he’s properly turned. For a show that frequently dabbles in the graphically gross, this may be one of the most squirm-inducing scenes yet, but it remains narratively important, revealing The Master’s origins.
That body lasted Jusef for a time, but as he tells Eichhorst, his vessel is dying. They must plan for a succession. Hopefully this time with less worm vomit.
Abraham isn’t satisfied with merely harming The Master, though, and returns to the scene of the crime for evidence of where he fled to. Instead, he runs into the hooded vampire antihero of season 1, who tells Abraham he goes by Vaughn. (Note: While I have not read the books, it seems the character who filled this role was named Quinlan in the original material. But according to some interviews, we may not have actually met Quinlan yet.)
Vaughn is on a hunt of his own for The Master, and he brings Abraham in on his plan. He speaks for The Ancients, the sleeping circle of strigoi we saw back in the first finale. The Master is the seventh of its kind, but he’s learned to shield himself from their collective mind meld. They want to find him, and enemy of the enemy being a friend, The Ancients want to align with Abraham.
Abraham tells them of an ancient book that appears to get a rise out of The Ancients. They won’t tell him how to kill The Master, but they realize how dedicated he is in his hunt. The Ancients let him live in exchange for any information on The Master’s whereabouts he can give them. And instead of chomping down on Abraham, he and Santos, who is working with Vaughn, watch as The Ancients feed on a defenseless sacrificial man.
Abraham keeps this new partnership to himself, though. When he returns to the team’s new reinforced hideout in Brooklyn, he remains mum as Fet interrogates him about his day.
The Master is making plans of his own on his hunt for revenge. And he’s being less shy about what’s to come. He has Eichhorst round up “the children,” while dealing with Eldritch, whose newfound vitality has also instilled him with a massive ego. But Eichhorst cuts through the power plays in all of his dealings, letting Eldritch blow off his steam while he buys property for The Master.
But Eichhorst takes a more hands-on approach with his other task. When a school of blind children are given a lucky chance to be driven out of the city to a safe location, it actually looks like things may be improving… until you remember what show you’re watching. The bus full of kids is halted long before they leave the city by Eichhorst, who promises their journey is only beginning.
NEXT: Abraham takes the crew on a dangerous mission.[pagebreak]
That journey leads them to becoming “the feelers,” as Eichhorst dubs them, creepy vampire children living in a dirt plot Eichhorst has prepared for them. He and The Master of chosen Kelly to be there vampiric mother figure. She’s been granted speech and thought, but she’s still under The Master’s control. For now, he plans on using her to hunt down Abraham and the rest.
Abraham’s band of merry hunters are dealing with enough strigoi as it is, though. Though remaining coy, Abraham tells them he needs to retrieve some supplies from a locker. Fet, Nora, Ephraim, and Abraham venture out into night, where Abraham attempts to locate his locker by sight—he can’t quite remember the actual location on its own.
All is quiet for just a little while longer than it should be in a city overrun with supernatural beasts, and before long, the strigoi arrive. The group eventually finds Abraham’s locker, filled with temperamental weaponry and a small library’s worth of notes, but the group also discovers it’s not alone at the facility.
Instead, a pack of vamps cut the power and give chase as lights flicker and hallways crowd with the stomach-churning gurgles of the vampire horde. They all escape without serious damage, but the two innocent bystanders they’ve collected along the way—a couple camping out in one of the lockers—have both been infected.
Rather than kill them, as Fet intends to, Eph spares their lives. He and Nora can use them for some experiments they have planned. The two spend most of the episode trying to make a plan of action against the strigoi infection. But they initially disappointing conclusion—creating a vaccine for those infected by worms would only help a small percentage of the population, and possibly kill some in the process. And a cure after the fact would require the ability to regenerate human organs on a large scale.
So they seem at an impasse, until Eph has a House/Sherlock/insert scientific genius TV lead here epiphany. Why not infect those who are already infected? If they can find a weak link in the vampire biology, they can exploit it and break the cycle of vampires creating new vampires, killing them off with something the strigoi are vulnerable to but that humans can tolerate.
It’s an ambitious plan, and one that will probably lead to a few (okay, a lot) of casualties along the way. But it gives some early shape to the season that will surely be complicated by Abraham’s secrets and The Master’s plans.
- Eldritch thinking he’s The Master’s partner isn’t all that’s fueling his inflated sense of self during the premiere. He’s also become enchanted by newcomer Coco Marchand (Lizzie Brochere) who sells him the plot of land he’s after in the episode. But he doesn’t just want the building—he wants her to come work for him. He’s willing to triple her salary (but what does money really mean in an apocalyptic scenario?) while also promising the city at large a line of credit to help fund them in this troubling time… that he helped create.
- Eph’s drinking has picked back up, and it’s already causing a rift between him and Nora. It does allow him to bond with Dutch, which leads to his eventual realization about how to medically approach the vampires, but it’s likely to cause trouble down the road.
- One person who it will certainly affect is Zack, who is being played by a new actor this season. Whereas Zack was more Ephraim’s naïve, innocent son last year, he’s now become an embittered, frustrated boy. Hopefully his behavior in the premiere is more the writers finding the right balance to strike with the character rather than a hint that Eph—and the audience—will be saddled with a stereotypical annoying child character.
- “BK, NY’s” prologue was given a bit of a visual boost thanks to the man behind the camera. Guillermo del Toro stepped in to film the short story of Jusef, though apparently he didn’t have the time to do so as often as he did in season 1.