The Strain recap: Fort Defiance
Quick history lesson: “Fort Defiance” takes its namesake from a story Fet tells Dutch as the two plan to defend themselves against the strigoi. Looking to seal off a subway route for strigoi, Fet tells of Fort Defiance, which used to encompass the area where their vampire fortress currently rests. Involved in one of the largest battles of the Revolutionary War, the fort was part of a defensive line against the British in the Battle of Long Island/Brooklyn.
But it may not be the best battle on which to base their attack plan, since the revolutionaries lost that particular battle against the Brits. Maybe Fet is more of a “lose the battle, but not the war” type of guy?
Hopefully so, because a few scenes in “Fort Defiance” show a worrying sign of just how powerful the strigoi army is. The episode opens with Bolivar, dragging a bag of dirt (special dirt, though—it’s the Master’s resting ground). Stopped by two policemen, he escapes their attempt to arrest him with a sea of strigoi. Really, one or two would have likely done the trick, but the dank, dark army they stop him in is filled to the brim with his vampiric soldiers.
It’s a disturbing sign of the state of New York City—I still can’t quite understand how uninfected humans can go about their daily lives, let alone even go outside.
Thankfully, Nora and Ephraim make some important progress in “Fort Defiance” while Abraham… well, Abraham takes the week off to recover from his weakened state that has consumed him since their showdown with the Master.
Fight for the Cure
Eph and Nora have continued working on a way to stop the strigoi infection from taking on new hosts, and their latest test on one of their captured subjects seems to work. Until it doesn’t. She dies, the solution they’ve concocted working too quickly on her. But there’s something to what they’ve created, so Nora continues working on it while giving Eph a break (presumably to drink more).
Eph has little chance to rest, however, when he discovers Zach has gone missing. He takes Fet and Dutch with him on a short-lived hunt, as they soon discover Zack riding away on a bus. Eph stops the bus before letting Zach escape to Queens in the hopes of seeing his mother. He still doesn’t quite get the whole “your mother is a vampire” plot twist, continuing to be a thorn in Eph’s side. (ASIDE: Again, how is the city operating at such a normal pace, particularly at night, to allow the MTA buses to run with any regularity? Public transportation in New York City is enough of a disaster without a vampire apocalypse plaguing the five boroughs. END OF ASIDE)
Eph brings Zach to the laboratory to show him what he’s working on, though a trip down memory lane, telling the story of his own father shakes Eph up. He doesn’t even know where he was going with his own story, and so he leaves the room to stop himself from breaking down in front of his son.
Nora comes to comfort him, and naturally the 30 seconds alone gives Zach plenty of time to start wrecking the laboratory, because season 2’s version of Zach has only one emotional state: angry at Dad. Zach was never exactly captivating in season 1, but it’s disappointing to see the show spiral into such clichéd, frustrating-to-watch characterization with him this year.
Zach’s bad behavior puts Eph into a bit of his own spiral, however, as he threatens the Master (through the eyes of the remaining test subject). He promises he’s coming for him, and that he’d rather die, and kill his own son, before he lets the Master turn him.
He may not have to worry about becoming a strigoi, though—he and Nora test a new, slower-acting cure that appears to take. Now, it’s just a matter of setting their test subject loose and seeing what happens when he attempts to infect someone else. That can only end well.
Love in the Time of Strigoi
Fet and Dutch continue their love affair mixed with plenty of strigoi killing to keep the spice in their love life. But the two are forced to not only look toward their future, but what got them to the present, as Dutch’s past comes into play. While helping Eph look for Zach, Dutch comes across a “Missing” poster plastered on a telephone poll for her friend Nikki Taylor. Nikki was with Dutch during last year’s bottle episode at the gas station, but she still has a mother out there looking for her.
Dutch goes to visit Nikki’s mother, but it doesn’t exactly bring much closure to Dutch’s life. Nikki’s mother lets her in, only to berate her for destroying her daughter’s life. She apparently has spent her days since the strigoi outbreak coming up with an extended metaphor to use as an insult against Dutch. She tells her that a vampire long ago entered Nikki’s life and sucked all the happiness and spirit out of her. And rather than leaving, she led her to ruin. Dutch can expect the same loss of light in her life if karma has anything to say about it, according to Nikki’s mother. At least for now, she has Fet by her side.
NEXT: Abraham has a strigoi secret
Abraham’s Dark Secret
While Fet, Dutch, Nora, and Eph have all found people to fight the good fight alongside them, Abraham remains in self-enforced isolation. He’s holed in his room, creating some strange solution out of strigoi worms. He ingests the creation by way of eye drops that cause his eyes to bleed and Abraham to pass out on the ground.
But there is an upside—his vitality. Abraham is woken up by Nora, who confronts him about what’s really going on. In exchange for absolute secrecy, he tells her: He’s been mixing his own medicine to remain alive while he hunts down the Master. If you’ve ever wondered why he looked so great for a 94-year-old, you now have your answer (it also helps that David Bradley is 73). The split-strigoi soup does indeed improve Abraham’s health. There’s a noticeable spring in his step, which should help him in his next steps stopping Eldritch Palmer and recovering the Occido Lumen.
Attack on Stoneheart
Speaking of Palmer, the Stoneheart head finds himself in a precarious predicament during “Defiance.” Saddled with Bolivar as his own personal bodyguard, Palmer might want to consider hiring a few extra strigoi to watch after him. Gus and his merry band of strigoi-hunting strigoi infiltrate the Stoneheart building.
Once inside, they make their way to Palmer’s office, though it’s not Bolivar but the tower’s security detail that protects him and Morchand. Gus and the hunters stumble into Palmer’s empty office, only to be blindsided with a set of UV lights that sweep over the entire office. It’s an extremely convenient and handy tool, presumably there because Palmer had some mistrust of his supernatural partners in crime or just has a strange sense of decor. But the lights are enough to halt the assault, leaving Gus to flee while the strigoi burn in a pit full of UV light that Palmer also has waiting in his office.
New York City’s New Safehaven
Councilwoman Feraldo may want to learn a lesson or two from Palmer’s anti-strigoi planning, as she has a big task ahead of her. Feraldo makes Staten Island a vampire-free zone, with an involved screening process required before letting anyone onto the island. (That process also apparently includes dealing with racist cops, as Fitzwilliam, Palmer’s old guard, learns when he travels to Staten Island to be with his brother.)
Feraldo and the mayor hold a press conference to showcase their promise for a brighter tomorrow. She unveils what will stand at the entrance to their home—a fence of decapitated strigoi, which at first angers the crowd. But they quickly turn around when Feraldo explains the bodies and severed heads are a symbol of what New Yorkers will and will not stand for.
It’s enough to impress the mayor, so much so that he wants her to do for all of New York what she did for Staten Island. It’s a tall order, but, so long as she gives him half the credit, he’s willing to go along with whatever plan she can devise. Might she need the help of a ragtag group of strigoi-stopping hunters in the weeks to come?