During the first three seasons of The Strain, there have been plenty of mistakes made by our central characters. As incredibly crucial as they have been to the battle against the strigoi, Eph and company aren’t devoid of blame. In tonight’s episode, “Collaborators,” which may have been the best of the season, many of the characters face the mistakes of their past and hope to make things right (or left for Eichhorst considering his hand situation).
While the action shifted between three separate missions — Palmer trying to gain an advantage over Eichhorst and Eph continuing his research of strigoi communications, included — the standout story and performance was the family backstory of Fet. After nearly three years of being both the muscle and comic relief, Kevin Durand shined as Fet was forced to come to terms with a heartbreaking discovery and his family’s secret shame.
Last week’s episode may have ended with The Master and strigoi scoring a huge victory as they took control of Central Park, “Collaborators” kicks off with Eichhorst recovering from his own physical loss. Sporting only a left stub, thanks to the sword work of Dutch, The Master’s right-hand-man nurses his injury under an open-fire and then cooling in water.
Flashing back in time has been a frequent occurrence for The Strain, but this time two new characters are introduced. It’s 1941 in Western Ukraine and while the faces may not be familiar, one of the names is. Despite being under fire, a soldier named Fet (Mike Dopud) eases his friend Alexei’s (The Americans’ Costa Ronin) concern by assuring him they will fight for each other’s survival. Then right on cue, an explosion knocks them out and they awaken to enemy soldiers standing over them.
It’s back to present day, where our Fet is also feeling defeated as he fills in Setrakian on the blood bath in Central Park. The Professor isn’t nearly as concerned and preaches faith, which he can do since he already has a new plan. They need silver and lead to create a box that will trap The Master and cut off his signals to his underlings. A trip to a rival pawn shop to gain the necessary items prompts Fet to make a detour to check on his parents. Upon arrival, things don’t look promising as the hallways are full of blood and a former neighbor-turned-strigoi is killed by Setrakian. Fet’s worse fears are soon confirmed as his father didn’t heed his warning to leave the city and as a result his parents are both dead from gunshots to the head. “You’re a coward,” Fet angrily says of his father as he holds his mother’s hand. Setrakian though notices they were infected and tries to comfort him by saying it was an act of mercy.
Setrakian isn’t the only one with a plan as Eph catches a healed Quinlan up on his research into how the strigoi are communicating. Eph and Dutch’s mission at Central Park last episode wasn’t all for nothing it turns out, they noticed a spike in communication, which they’ve interpreted as a call to arms. Eph thinks this will help lead them to the Master, and he’s got an idea of how to do it — the black box from Flight 753. The three amigos decide they must head to JFK to find the plane’s recorder, even though it’s outside the safe zone. There’s clearly a reason that Queens is blocked off as the lawless streets prompt Eph to compare the borough to the South Sudan. Upon noticing a family under attack, Dutch and Eph try to save the day, but Quinlan steps in to make it an even fight. As the unthankful family runs off, Quinlan gets his fill of blood as he licks his sword clean.
It’s not just the show’s heroes that have a plan. Palmer, closer to death than ever, gets word that from Mr. Duncan, his new head of security, that the ship requested by Eichhorst has arrived from Egypt. Palmer says he never signed off on this shipment of “tractors and spare parts,” so he heads off to inspect the goods, where he’s refused access — which doesn’t go unnoticed by his frenemy Eichhorst. The two spar about their importance to The Master, Eichhorst insisting that Palmer’s role is over, while the sick old man believes there’s still a plan for him. After Eichhorst leaves, Palmer has Duncan and his gunmen invade the ship, but all that remains are dead henchmen.
NEXT: Eichhorst changes the Fet family forever[pagebreak]
Back in 1941, Fet and Alexei are being put to work in a Nazi prison camp, where they soon get a job offer from the one and only Eichhorst. In exchange for being taken care of, the men are given the duty of killing prisoners who have been deemed of no further use. While neither man proves to be up to the task, Eichhorst points a gun at Alexei and persuades Fet to go through with it. Despite the change of heart, Eichhorst still kills Alexei and tells Fet, “You chose wisely, but slowly.”
Just as the elder Fet makes a deal with the devil, present day Fet and Setrakian arrive at the abandoned pawn shop, where the exterminator-turned-strigoi assassin opens up about his family history. Fet confesses that his father wasn’t the first member of his family to commit suicide, his grandfather had done the same after being ashamed of what he did on behalf of the Nazis. His grandfather’s actions during WWII were the shame of the family and part of the reason for Fet’s rocky relationship with his father. “He feared that darkness in himself and me,” he told Setrakian. The Holocaust survivor, who had his own interactions with Eichhorst during WWII, tells Fet that he must forgive his father, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that prisoner was you.”
Eph could use a little forgiveness as well upon his arrival at JFK. “I could have ended it here,” he admits as he shares his regrets about not listening to Setrakian back when they first met. While Eph believes that it’s too late to make it up to the Professor, Dutch urges him to try. “Sometimes you’ve got to make the first move, Doc,” she says (possibly also urging him to make a move on her?). As Quinlan kills some random strigoi, Eph makes two important discoveries: vodka and the black box, even though it’s hard to figure out which one excites him more.
Once again, Fet, Setrakian, and Palmer convene for a meeting in the shadows. While Palmer still doesn’t know what form The Master has taken, he does share the news of the ship. In order to find out more, Palmer insists that he needs a dose of the White. Setrakian agrees but warns of the traumatic effect that it will have. As they separate, Setrakian ponders that the missing cargo could in fact be the remaining Ancients, whom The Master might have brought to New York to finish the job. Meanwhile, a delighted Palmer has made it back home, where he forces his reluctant nurse to administer the drops of White. As Setrakian warned, the old man is immediately overcome with pain and falls to the floor, presumably dead. Then, his bloody eyes pop open, sending the nurse off screaming as Palmer rises to his feet, looking stronger than ever and flashing quite the evil smile.