We have bald Corey Stoll. Finally. Oh, and Abraham continued looking for the Occido Lumen.

By Jonathon Dornbush
August 16, 2015 at 10:04 PM EDT
Michael Gibson/FX

As season 2 of The Strain chugs forward, it’s been casting the intentions of the strigoi further and further aside. That’s not to say that Eichhorst and the Master’s plans are meaningless, but “Quick and Painless” does very little to shine a spotlight on them and their various cohorts. Even Palmer, ostensibly the most present villain on the show, is more worried about his romantic life than the Occido Lumen in “Painless.”

And time away from the villains gives The Strain a chance to propel Abraham, Eph, and the rest of the team’s goals forward at varying rates.

Potentially the most essential movement occurs on the part of Eph, who is bald. I repeat, we now have Corey Stoll in his naturally bald state. This is not a drill, people. The wig is gone, and even if I can’t fully divorce my image of him from his wonderfully villainous turn as Darren Cross in Ant-Man, it’s great to see Stoll freed of his hairy prison.

What’s the reason for the transformation? Well, Eph is going to take the cure/infection he and Nora have created to Washington, D.C., but with Eph still in the news after escaping custody, a different look might help him avoid attention. While acquiring a new name for his ID, he’s given the idea to alter his appearance and soon takes a razor to his despicable hair.

But Eph’s hair isn’t the only thing he’s leaving behind. While he originally wants to bring Zach and Nora with him to D.C., both are less than enthused at the idea. Nora fears what trouble her makeshift family might face if all caught together, and knows that Eph on his own stands a better chance of escaping. And Zach… well Zach just doesn’t want to do anything his dad suggests because he’s still in whiny pre-teen mode.

So Goodweather begrudgingly leaves the two behind and begins his dangerous trek to the nation’s capital. He passes through security at Penn Station (which, as a New Yorker, so obviously is not Penn Station that it’s embarrassing), and continues to avoid detection on the train. He’s suspicious of everyone he encounters though, sending Eph on a winding dash through his train hoping to avoid law enforcement.

Unfortunately, that effort leads him straight into the view of Barnes, his former boss at the CDC. He attempts to evade him but eventually the two cross paths. Barnes tries to talk Eph down, asking him to trust him. But Eph’s wariness has been pushed to the max, and he’s not willing to take any chances. He begins fighting with Barnes, hoping to subdue him, but the fight eventually spills into an outside area between train cars.

Barnes thinks he’s won. Eph has nowhere to run, and he’ll now have to deal with the police. But if he can’t leave the train, Eph has no problem ejecting Barnes from the vehicle, and he sends him flying off the side of the speeding train.

He continues to worm his way into D.C. once the train arrives at its destination, avoiding a cohort of Barnes’ while passing through security. He’s almost stopped by a mysterious urn in his bag, but with the slip of a believable lie that his wife’s ashes are in the urn, he’s let through, free to hopefully spread his cure to the masses.

The other half of the team behind that cure, meanwhile, does her part to assist the fight against the strigoi infection in New York. She and Dutch head down to a police precinct when they discover that Fet has been arrested for his demolitions show in the subway.

NEXT: Abraham makes some inroads hunting down the Occido Lumen, but he’s not the only one looking for it…

When they arrive, they’re met by an angry mob demanding their friends and family members be let out of quarantine, and that they be allowed to return to their homes. Feraldo refuses to hear it, though—she sees two-week quarantines as necessary to determining who is sick, but Nora comes in proving that the process can be done in two hours. (Really, when she puts it into practice, it’s more like two minutes, but always better to under-promise and over-deliver.)

Feraldo takes an interest, but Nora is only willing to help if Fet is let free of his incarceration. She agrees, even though Fet looks comfy hanging in a back room playing cards with a few fellow convicts, and begins using Nora’s simple UV light test to diagnose citizens.

The true test, though, comes in the form of her nephew, who unfortunately has been infected. Finally, the plague hits Feraldo where it really hurts. She’d been able to keep some detachment from it all for the sake of her job, but now, it’s starting to take a personal toll. But it just may be what she needs to be able to go about the strigoi extinction in a more humane fashion.

But Fet is looking to get back into killing things and shooting stuff, rather than worrying about a cure. Luckily, a cop who earlier in the episode raided an infested building and lost some fellow soldiers needs some help: They need to clean up the mess of strigoi still lurking at the building, including a few feelers, which Fet has never encountered before.

Fet and Dutch are happy to tag along, pairing their UV-light and silver-based weapons with the police force’s more matter-of-fact “shoot the head off” method. They clear out the building, but not without Fet and Dutch’s first run-in with a feeler; they haven’t quite learned who or what is controlling this new brand of strigoi, though we know Kelly is not too far away.

Kelly appears briefly at the episode’s onset, but the only real investment “Painless” takes in the show’s named villains is Palmer. But even he isn’t too concerned with the quest for world domination at the moment—he’s more preoccupied with having Coco Morchand fall in love with him.

He appears out to dinner with her at an expensive-looking restaurant, which must have great security to keep out all of the vampires trying to ravage the city. (ASIDE: It’s nice that the producers addressed the state of New York recently but the hordes of strigoi and the decay of certain areas makes it difficult to believe at times that life is carrying on with any semblance of normalcy. Though I suppose being rich can’t hurt. END OF ASIDE). There, the couple runs into a cardinal who alerts Palmer that a certain book might appear soon.

Palmer, of course, doesn’t want Coco to know his darker side, so he doesn’t even dare speak the Occido Lumen’s name, instead taking her back to Stoneheart. He tries to have her define their relationship, which, for the moment, appears to be entirely one-sided in terms of its romantic leanings, but instead they merely dance and watch the world burn, Palmer enjoying the moment until the Lumen re-enters his life.

Palmer isn’t the only one actively hunting for it, though. Abraham has begun exhausting his contacts in search of the book, and may finally have a lead thanks to some black market sellers. And it looks like he may have some help on the hunt for it too, as Fitzwilliam appears to offer his services.

It’s a good thing Abraham’s makeshift army is growing, because a new, hooded player appears to have entered the fray. Are they here to help the Master, the Ancients, or another party entirely?

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