It’s safe to say things did not go according to plan on tonight’s episode of The Strain. Titled “The Battle of Central Park,” the hour chronicled what was supposed to have been a decisive blow against the vampires in the continued quest to wrest back control of Manhattan. There’s no question the humans did score some small victories against their supernatural opponents, but by the installment’s conclusion, the vampires still appeared to have the upper hand (well, except maybe for Eichhorst…).
The plan to secure Central Park seemed sound enough — if not entirely fair to the sweep teams conscripted into service against their will. Those teams, whose ranks now include Gus and Angel, were to clear the tunnels beneath the park leading to the massive nest of strigoi Fet had discovered. Police battalions would then wait above ground to further secure the area. It would be up to Fet to make it all the way to the nest before sundown and detonate a bomb filled with silver powder that would wipe out the sleeping strigoi. Fet’s partner? Kate Rogers, the woman from the bar he hooked up with a couple of episodes back, whom he was surprised to learn was the police captain assigned to escort him underground.
Having learned about the mission when Fet stopped by his old place in Red Hook to pick up some extra supplies, Dutch and Eph head to the scene the morning of the raid, setting up a makeshift research station close by the action in the hopes of capturing more data for their strigoi communications studies. Little did Eph know Zack was in the tunnels, dreaming of spending a day in the sun with his dad (instead, he’s gifted his own feeler by Kelly and Eichhorst…just what every boy wants).
The action kicks off at 5 a.m. Gus, Angel, and their fellow “convicts” — a group that now includes a young woman named Maria — are ordered to clear the tunnels with the promise that if they fight bravely, they’ll receive pardons. Angel believes the offer was made simply because no one is expected to survive. Naturally, Gus and Angel come out of the first fight unscathed. Venturing forward, the larger group arrives at a chamber where Maria is sent to clear a tunnel alone, even though Angel offers to go in her place. When the guards draw their weapons and try to force her to follow their order, Gus and Angel seize the moment as an opportunity to seize some power of their own. Gus holds one guard at gunpoint and Angel trains a weapon on her partner. Despite Gus’ best efforts, the situation escalates quickly — soon, both guards are dead, and the group is attempting to find its way back toward the surface.
NEXT: The humans enjoy a short-lived victory
But locating the exit is not a simple task. In another open chamber, strigoi attack, and their party shrinks to just three. Just then, Fet and Kate find Gus, Angel, and Maria — Fet convinces Gus to stay and fight, and Gus convinces Angel to get Maria to safety. Meanwhile, in another section of tunnel, Kelly rushes into Zack’s room accompanied by Eichhorst and instructs her son to pack his things, saying they have only minutes to escape from people who are coming to kill them. The boy hastily scribbles a note inside the copy of The Maze Runner he’d been reading and leaves the book behind. Fet discovers the novel on his way to the nest and radios for Eph to come into the tunnels, though he doesn’t share the nature of what he’s found.
Hurrying to reach his target before sunset, Fet closes in on the nest with Kate and Gus in tow. As he works to assemble the bomb, feelers begin to appear, one after another. Gus and Kate hold them off, barely, until Fet finally lowers the weapon and detonates it, sending the strigoi beneath convulsing and screaming as silver powder fills the air. Back at the command center, as soon as a nervous Justine learns Fet has taken out the nest, she’s thrilled humans are finally on the verge of winning back the city.
Except maybe they’re not.
Eph stands in Zack’s room reading the message his son has written — “Whoever finds this, please tell my father Ephraim Goodweather that I’m alive and okay” — and Dutch, who’s accompanied him, runs out of the room to search for the boy in case he’s still close by. Just then, Eichhorst emerges from the shadows (he does a lot of that, doesn’t he?). A single-minded Eph demands to know where he can find Zack; meanwhile, back in the command center, reports of thousands of strigoi pouring past safety checkpoints begin flooding in. The Nazi taunts Eph before shooting out his stinger at the scientist. But Dutch returns to offer some help with her sword — landing one clean blow, she severs Eichhorst’s hand and he flees.
Eventually, Dutch and Eph emerge into the night as police retreat from the advancing strigoi, and she convinces her reluctant partner to retrieve their gear so they don’t lose the data they’ve collected. Fet and Kate, too, find their way out of the tunnels, their elation turning to something far darker as they hear only panicked screaming and desperate cries for help. At the command center, Justine instructs all units to withdraw from Central Park, tearfully admitting the battle is over as strigoi overrun everything in sight.