The Strain season 2 finale recap: Night Train
After a season that has seen the forces against the Master grow in size as his reign of terror spreads throughout New York, “Night Train,” is a finale that gives as much to the cause as it takes away.
And despite its twists and turns, “Night Train,” does not go off the rails — despite an actual train doing so in the episode. It plays things surprisingly safe for an episode that shifts the status quo of the series.
At the finale’s outset, there are two clear goals Abraham’s team has in mind: Eph and Nora will attempt to safely escort Zack out of the city while Abraham and Fet prepare to bid for the Occido Lumen. But as fate would allow, only one of those ventures is even remotely successful, and it doesn’t come without its price. So let’s start with the bad news first:
Eph, Zack, and Nora begin their trek out of New York with a mix of sweet and emotionally stilted farewells, as Fet shows off his sensitive side while Abraham has difficulty understanding what a smile is.
The plan is to bring Zack to his grandparents’, with a few stops along the way to prep Eph’s mystical, magical macguffin bioweapon, but almost from the word “go,” the trip is fraught with problems. Leaving from the show’s Penn Station, which is the train station from hell only in name and not at all in look, gunshots ring out from behind the barricade separating the station from the masses. The trio escapes unharmed, waiting for the last train to Clarksville salvation while a make-up less Kelly lurks in the shadows.
When the train finally arrives, they’re met with another horrible plight — having to sit next to a neurotic, paranoid guy clutching his suitcase with such fervor you’d think he was hoping it would become a part of his body. Other than that nuisance, they seem to be in good spirits. Nora and Eph are, if not lovebirds once again, at least genial and even somewhat affectionate toward each other. And Zack hasn’t thrown a whiny fit in over 15 minutes, so the trip should be considered a rousing success.
Until Kelly and her feelers attack, of course. The train hits a bump on the tracks, which is actually a strigoi, followed by dozens of more vamps giving their lives to the cause of derailing the train. They do so successfully at the most inopportune moment — Eph is in the club car while Nora and Zack are still in their seats when the attack comes. Grinding to a halt, the train becomes an easy target that Nora and Zack flee from, hoping Eph will catch up to them.
Unfortunately for Eph, when he leaves the train shortly after in search of Nora and Zack, he gets trapped by a couple feelers. While he battles the creepiest children this side of The Corn, Nora and Zack run into the one strigoi who would orchestrate all of this: Kelly.
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She and Nora face off, but as the latter isn’t much of a shot for the moment, Kelly has to take a few blows from Nora’s sword as Zack is supposed to run away. But he’s there to witness Kelly get the upper hand, unleashing her stinger on Nora. Zack looks on in horror, Nora not dead yet but on her way to the light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel (not the dimly lit train tunnel they’re actually in), and Kelly approaches her son. He asks to see her as she is now, not the fake face she put on for their last meeting. Revealing her true visage, he doesn’t kill it, he hugs the strigoi as if it is still the mother he knew and walks away with her as they leave Nora to die.
(ASIDE: Is it a stupid move? Sure. But here’s a little boy who lost one of the most important people in his life. He now has, in some form, a chance to reconnect with someone he was told was dead, and even in the face of overwhelming evidence that this is not the mother he knew, it’s easy to buy Zack’s behavior here. I wouldn’t necessarily defend what the show’s done with him this season, it’s been one of the weakest points, but at the very least this felt in step with the character. END OF ASIDE.)
Nora doesn’t die before Eph finds her, however, which gives the two a chance to say goodbye. Eph learns of Zack’s indeterminate fate (not yet turned, but that seems to be where he’s heading), and sees by the UV light that Nora is full of worms that, as she says, “It’s done.” And with a strike of her sword against the rail, sending a surge of electricity through her body, she dies in perhaps the show’s most abstractly shot and edited sequence. Sparks fly as she writhes in pain and Eph can only watch as his closest ally in the fight is lost. Hopefully his effort to kill the Master in the future goes a bit better than his attempts to take down Palmer.
NEXT: Always bet on Abraham.
The Bidding Game
Abraham’s play for the Occido Lumen goes better than Eph’s attempt to flee, if several near-death experiences but no actual death on the side of good can be considered better. Eichhorst and Abraham, along with Fet, show up for Creem’s gold bid, where hundreds of millions of dollars are in play. Creem could care less who wins because, really, he’ll still come out of the ordeal filthy rich, and at first it looks like Eichhorst is the victor.
However, Creem’s man verifying the bank accounts receives word that Eichhorst has been cut off from the account he gave. By default, the book goes to Abraham, but Eichhorst doesn’t leave without a few not-so-empty threats. Setrakian takes his foe seriously. He knows an attack will come, and he warns Fet of that while revealing he has no intention of giving the Ancients the Lumen.
But that’s a worry for a few minutes from now — a truck careens into Fet’s reinforced van just as a horde of strigoi descends upon the truck. They eventually get the hunk of junk moving, but another truck blocks their escape route.
Cornered in, Eichhorst unleashes the full force of his undead men on the truck. It looks like this is the end as Fet and Abraham huddle into the back of the van, but the cavalry arrives in the form of Quinlan, Gus, Angel, and their convict army. Quinlan gave these men quite the pep talk earlier (a show more interested in its social paradigm would have probably given more weight to the metaphor of Quinlan’s “red vs. white” blood speech throughout the season), and they unleash a storm of bullets upon Eichhorst’s cannon fodder. Quinlan goes after the man himself, speaking to the Master through him, but the supreme strigoi’s lapdog flees before he can be gunned down.
He has other business to take care of—specifically, confronting Palmer for pulling his funds. For his insolence, Palmer is finally granted a meeting with the Master, with whom he attempts to renegotiate the terms of their agreement. The Master’s response? He kills Coco (that leaves two of the show’s four main characters dead within the hour, quickly turning the battle for humanity into another sausage fest), and insists their deal, and Palmer’s cooperation, remain the same. (At least Eichhorst has his slaughtering factories to keep his spirits up. The scene that opens “Night Train” featuring Eichhorst inspecting a facility he has being built — not for animals as the foreman assumes — is Richard Sammel at his most gleefully devilish. From the lighting to his exuberant performance, never doubt how much joy Eichhorst derives from the future pain of mankind, and how much fun Sammel has playing the part.)
Luckily another deal doesn’t end in death. Abraham and Fet escaped conveniently out of a manhole directly underneath their truck and come out across the river… presumably free from the struggle for now. Or so they think.
Gus arrives shortly after them, having chased them through the sewers. He, Quinlan, and Angel want the Lumen, or it could mean the end of Abraham. So the one-time professor makes a deal. So long as the Lumen exists, it acts as bait to lure the Master out of hiding. If the Ancients destroy it, the act could cause him to burrow even further into the shadows.
So Quinlan likes the idea of letting the book remain, but not without his supervision. Fet and Abraham commandeer a boat, along with Quinlan, Gus, and Angel watching over them (See what I mean about this suddenly being a bunch of dudes?), ending the season in a temporary but possibly exciting alliance. Quinlan, Gus, and Angel’s forces grew to become one of the more intriguing yet underserved aspects of the season, while the familial machinations of Abraham, Eph, and the rest of their team felt somewhat like wheel spinning at times. Joining those forces, with Eph’s next moves uncertain as he walks out into the city alone, could make for a seriously entertaining third season.
At the very least, hopefully someone in season 3 addresses those eternal fires dotting Manhattan since the takeover began. That can’t be safe, right?