A centuries-long hunt drew to a staggering close in tonight’s episode of The Strain, appropriately titled “First Born.” Quinlan finally confronted his evil father in the unlikeliest of locations (Coney Island?!) and left the Master lying on the ground, headless. But mere decapitation isn’t sufficient to stop the big bad vamp, who is sure to be reborn in a new physical form. However, the face-off might have spelled the end for Quinlan, whose fate by the hour’s conclusion seemed grim at best. Without some supernatural assistance, Eph and his allies could really be in trouble.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this recap stated that the vampires captured the Occido Lumen during the Coney Island fight—while that was technically true (Kelly did succeed in taking the Lumen from her ex-husband), they didn’t manage to retain control of the ancient text, which, at the end of conflict, was lying on the ground next to the Master’s body.
Still, despite the Quinlan/Master showdown and Eph’s continued despair over Zack’s kidnapping, it was actually mother-and-son relationships that featured throughout the episode. The hour opened with a flashback to Zack’s birth — he was a caul baby, delivered inside the amniotic sac, a condition present-day vamp Kelly explains marked him as destined for greatness. But it was the story of Quinlan’s “birth,” how he found his destiny through the kindness of a maternal savior — Deanna Dunagan’s Ancharia — that proved most compelling.
In the Roman countryside in 58 AD, a caged Quinlan (then known as Quintus) was rescued by Ancharia, who understood his special nature and brought him to live with her. “You bear the master’s mark, yes, but not all who have horns are demons,” she told him. They remained together for two years, until the Master’s minions discovered their home, forcing them to journey across snow-covered mountains to find a new safe space. Sheltering from the elements inside the cave, the ancient foe appears, determined to test the limits of Quintus’ thirst. He causes a rock slide, trapping the two inside the cave, where both slowly begin to starve. Finally, Ancharia pleads with Quintus to end her suffering and take her life to restore his strength to a place where he could fight the Master. He reluctantly feeds on her, and when the Master returns, Quintus attempts to cut him down but can’t land a blow. Realizing he is outmatched, he flees the chamber, vowing he will meet the Master again someday.
RELATED: Hear what TV shows to watch and avoid this fall
Meanwhile, in present-day Harlem, Gus is doing everything in his power to care for his now-strigoi mother, feeding her his own blood even though it appears to be killing him. Angel arrives in the apartment to discover Gus lying on the floor and soon offers to do what he cannot, to release his mother from her current state. Gus is determined to protect her at any cost, and as the conversation turns heated, members of the Safe Streets Initiative unexpectedly turn up to do a sweep of the building — at which point Angel DUCT-TAPES GUS’ MOTHER TO A WHEELCHAIR. Together, they flee to the elevator to take poor Mama to safety.
But the plan doesn’t quite work — they’re soon discovered in the corridor, and despite unleashing Gus’ mother to take down their adversaries (and give her a meal or two), they’re soon apprehended and taken to a West Village high school. There, they learn they’ve been conscripted into the Safe Streets militia. I’m guessing that means we can expect to see Angel and Gus conducting building sweeps of their own soon?
NEXT: About the Lumen…
Just as Fet and Setrakian discover the Lumen’s gone, Fet reveals he’s placed a GPS tracker inside the silver lining of the rare book. They quickly set out to recover the ancient tome, now in Eph’s possession. Alone with Quinlan, the scientist again agonizes over what to do. Deliver the book to the Master and save his son? Or sacrifice the boy and possibly save all of humanity? Quinlan poses another alternative — use the Lumen to lure the Master out of hiding so Quinlan can defeat him at last, thereby ensuring Zack’s safety. What that means, though, is Quinlan will finally die, too — his quest to rid the world of the Master is, in fact, a suicide mission, as their fates entirely intertwined, the Born explains.
Eph and Quinlan capture a strigoi inside a ransacked convenience store, using the vampire to communicate their conditions to the Master: They insist the chief enemy retrieve the book himself and bring Zack, who must be still be human and unharmed. If Zack doesn’t show, Eph says, then he will know the boy is dead or turned and the Master will not get the Lumen. The meeting point is a place where Eph and Zack would secretly steal away to go fishing: Coney Island.
The Master arrives right on schedule, just after sundown, with Kelly by his side and a small hooded figure in her clutches. Eph demands to see the child’s face, but it’s not Zack — it’s a young strigoi who lunges at him, but Eph manages a few great blows with the Lumen to beat back the attack. Then Kelly rushes forward, and after a struggle, she nabs the Lumen and delivers it to the Master, asking his permission to turn Eph. He rebuffs her request, saying Eph should be left to suffer.
Just then, the Born appears, guns blazing, determined to finally conclude his millennia-long hunt at the amusement park. As Fet and Setrakian arrive on the scene, they take note of the sound of gunfire and notice the team of Navy Seals running toward the action— only to realize the battalion has been turned. Setrakian throws a light grenade, which kills many strigoi and hurts the Master just enough for Quinlan to land a mortal blow, decapitating the vampire. But as Quinlan drops to the ground, a blood worm slithers away from the Master’s body and drops down into the sewer, presumably to find a new host (Eichhorst?). The heroes survey the scene, dumbfounded.
Is it possible Quinlan has fulfilled his destiny and met his end at last? (Let’s hope not — the character is a welcome presence in any scene.) And where’s Gus’ mother? There’s going to be a great deal of ground to cover in episode four.