'The Strain' recap: 'By Any Means'
The Strain spared us any vomit-inducing worm barfing scenes in “By Any Means,” instead it indulged its more disgusting tendencies with a few severed strigoi heads flying through the air. The episode is much more concerned with the continued searches of its leads: Nora and Ephraim’s hunt for a cure, Abraham’s search for the fabled Occido Lumen, and Fet and Dutch’s exploration of neighboring buildings for strigoi nests (and a hidden place to shack up together).
Yes, The Strain is keeping its core team at various edges of the show’s universe, unfortunately denying us the joy of seeing their combined camaraderie while largely providing more table setting for the main arcs.
Eph and Nora are hard at work treating the infected couple from the storage lockers and using them as subjects in their hunt for some way to stop the spread of infection. At first, the husband and wife are left out in the cold, unaware of how exactly the transformation will progress. Once Eph decides to tell them, however, it takes some excessive guilt tripping to convince them to stay, as Eph suggests the fate of mankind could rest on their shoulders. No pressure.
So they remain in isolation, Eph and Nora continuing to experiment on them, Nora continuing to be frustrated, and Eph continuing to drink and become less likable by the minute. The two former-CDC employees appear at an impasse, but when Nora realizes the lab has some pure DNA strains, they begin to attempt a synthesization process that may lead them toward some transformation-halting solution.
And it appears they may be onto something, as the results of their efforts show vampire brains being munched on by their solution. Will it work on a larger scale? Who knows, but it’s a hell of a start.
Fet and Dutch have more immediate success in their endeavors, as the two venture out from the safehouse for a little strigoi hunting. And really, if the show turned into the Fet and Dutch (“Futch?” “Det?” “Fetch?” I’m not sure I love any of their couple names.) hour, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. The two most charismatic and, frankly, enjoyable to watch members of the team begin hunting down strigoi in the neighborhood, hoping to clear one structure after the next and build out a safe perimeter. (There is some flawed logic there. Sure, they can clear out building after building, but the real world doesn’t operate like a video game, and strigoi could very much move back into the area.)
They start with a fitness center, where the strangest aspect of it isn’t the nests of sleeping strigoi in the showers. It’s the odd midi or jazzy instrumental version of the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love” playing in the building.
The answer to that song’s title though is quite deep, as the two risk their lives for each other to clear out the nest. Dutch creates a distraction, drawing strigoi toward her while Fet blasts off a few sunlight grenades. The two then commence a lesson in head severing 101, sweeping the vampire-infected craniums clean off their necks.
NEXT: Abraham may have a new lead in his hunt for the Occido Lumen.
The sequence is actually a bit more visually striking than the rest of the episode: slow motion while a particular attention to detail is paid to making the tumbling heads just disgusting enough to stomach watching without crossing the line into worm vomit territory (Sorry, I’m not letting that scene go — it still haunts my dreams).
Dutch celebrates a hard day’s work of slaying with a skinny dip in the center’s pool, where a bashful Fet originally declines to join him. It’s not that he’s nervous around a naked woman — he actually can’t swim. She promises to teach him, goading him into the pool for a lesson that is short-lived before the two celebrate their day’s win with a bit more romance than swimming instructions.
(ASIDE: Although it doesn’t play a major role in the episode, the introduction of councilwoman Feraldo will likely have an impact down the line. And her stance on the strigoi infestation does mirror what Fet and Dutch are doing, as she seeks to create a safe zone in the entirety of Staten Island. Depending on how well her plan goes, maybe she’ll be able to take on these two ace hunters if a rift forms in the group. END OF ASIDE.)
But not all is going well for the group. Abraham’s advancements are much less significant than the others, his big win being that he learns his foe doesn’t have the item he is searching for. So there’s still the possibility for him to procure the Occido Lumen. It’s a win, but a slight one for now.
Prior to that discovery, however, Abraham is in a frustrated and downtrodden predicament. Rereading the passage indicating the Master’s weakness to sunlight, he realizes he’s been striving for a goal that is merely a lie, and he’s losing his composure.
But in his rage, tossing around the stacks of books he’s amassed that presumably teach you how to kill every mythical beast BUT the Master, he uncovers an important clue. A loose piece of paper stuffed into the pages of a book is in fact a photocopy of a page from the Occido Lumen. It was given to him by Eldritch Palmer in Vienna back in 1965.
Palmer wanted Abraham to find the Lumen for him, when Abraham was working as a professor. Palmer promises the young Setrakian a fully endowed chair at the university if he can find the book for Palmer, and he’s willing to risk it all for the book.
His search brings him to an antique salesman, who he actually recognizes as a doctor who experimented on his fellow inmates in the concentration camps. Confronting him with his true identity while trying to bargain for Jusef Sardu’s staff, the bad doctor books it out the door, staff in hand. Abraham never catches the doctor, but along the way he picks up the staff once it’s been dropped mid-pursuit. He got what he came for, but the doctor gets away in the process.
And his fate is to be sucked into the strigoi-human war on the rise. Eichhorst comes to visit the doctor’s shop, drafting him into the new strigoi army and infecting him in short order.
Back in the present day, Abraham, reminded by the page, goes to visit Palmer and surmise whether he’s found the book. He confronts Palmer at the opening of a food distribution center, which the Stoneheart group is funding to keep up appearances.
With his new speechwriter Coco Marchand by his side (Palmer is doing nothing to hide his creepy crush on her), Palmer seems to capture the people’s favor with a few self-deprecating jokes that Coco wrote. The happy occasion quickly turns tense, however, as Abraham shows up to confront Palmer. Questioning him about the Lumen, he comes to learn that his former partner-turned-enemy never found it. This information may not give Abraham much, but after being essentially lost for an episode-and-a-half, it gives him one important element to his hunt: hope.
Dawn of the Rise of the Planet of the Strigoi
While Palmer is the only main foe who gets much screen time during “By Any Means,” Eichhorst and Kelly are not completely left in the dark. Eichhorst meets with Gabriel Bolivar (who has his own voice and thoughts) discussing the Master’s succession plans. Might he be a possible candidate?
Meanwhile, Kelly is weeding out the weak of her feeler army. She’s put together a dream team of creepy undead children to hunt for her son. But if he continues to be written as petulant and whiny as he was again this week, would he being turned into a strigoi really be the worst thing?