The Strain recap: 'The Blood Tax'
Gus + Dutch + no Zach = giving the people (a.k.a. me) what they want.
After the final season premiere caught up the audience with Eph and Fet, the second episode of the season reintroduces two more members of the scattered core team. And the new story lines for Gus and Dutch are interesting considering where we last left them: Dutch had found herself in the middle of a romantic tug-of-war between Eph and Fet, while the show could have easily let Gus run off into the sunset and never return.
Despite the reappearance of two favorites, “The Blood Tax” begins with an unfamiliar face. We are introduced to Raul, following him as he awakens in a crowded apartment, works at a Partnership building, and gives blood. After a draining day, he finally makes it home, only to be attacked from behind. “Didn’t I always tell you to watch your back?” asks the assailant — who turns out to be Gus! Raul is his younger cousin. “I thought you were dead,” Raul tells Gus, whom we last saw seemingly escaping to freedom after the loss of Angel. I thought he was sipping margaritas on a beach in Mexico. Guess not. He’s back, and he wants help getting into Raul’s work building. Don’t worry, Raul, he’s not stealing, just “reallocating.” “I’m here to take care of you now,” Gus tells his cousin. “We need to take care of each other.” Damn, I missed Gus!
Now that Gus is back, we’re getting Dutch, too. That’s a winning combination. She’s looking very uncomfortable in a chair. Finally time for a teeth cleaning? Nope, definitely not, considering the way she’s sitting with her legs spread. Dutch is visiting a baby doctor, who tells her that she’s not pregnant, but she is plenty fertile. The news doesn’t quite elicit a joyous reaction. Following the appointment, Dutch returns to what seems to be a pregnant lady factory run by The Partnership. The unit’s roster includes Nurse Greenwood (a Brigitte Nielsen lookalike), delusional pregnant women, and Eichhorst’s pal Sanjay, who is lording over the place. To add to the mystery, Dutch is going by the name Miranda.
How did she end up here? We find out as the action takes us back three months — and as if separate Gus and Dutch stories weren’t exciting enough, we get the duo interacting together, with the bonus addition of Setrakian. Dutch and Setrakian go to make a trade with Gus, who has teamed up with Creem, the man who sold the Lumen to Setrakian. “Looks like that didn’t work out to well for ya,” quips Creem to the old man, who jabs right back about how useless the $325 million he paid for it is. “Nuclear wear wasn’t good for the economy,” Creem responds. Despite Setrakian’s pleas, Gus insists that his days of fighting are over. “I’d say I’ve had too much experience,” he says. “This is my fight now.”
Upon leaving Gus, Dutch will soon have a fight of her own. Setrakian’s building is both on fire and being raided by strigoi, which is a bad combination. Relenting to Setrakian’s pleas to retrieve the Lumen, Dutch sneaks in, killing some strigoi on her way to grab the book. She finds herself being chased, leading her to jump from rooftop to rooftop like she’s Vin Diesel in Fast Five. (Then she cuts off the head of the strigoi following her, which did not happen in Fast Five.) Not wanting the Lumen to fall into strigoi hands, she hides the book just before she is caught. If it makes her feel any better, Setrakian was also captured. You’re right — probably not.
They arrive at the prisoner loading area to discover people being beaten and feelers sniffing women. “I have seen this before,” says Holocaust survivor Setrakian. I’m guessing not the feelers part. Setrakian goes over to help a family who are being separated, but he’s knocked over. This leads Dutch to jump in, but her fate is even worse than being dropped to the ground: A feeler goes into a tizzy over her, prompting her to be taken away.
Back in the present, we learn a little more about the mystery that is Dutch. Apparently, she isn’t a fan of pineapple, she has a new pregnant friend named Rosalinda, and she’s planning to escape the next day. How is she going to get out? A Partnership delivery man named Jeremy is suppose to smuggle her out, but he’s conveniently playing dumb. She starts threatening to make up a story about them sleeping together. The strigoi definitely don’t want a Jeremy baby. Dutch takes a break from planning her escape to play mediator between the nurses and delirious patients, eventually drawing the eye of the almighty Sanjay.
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Gus, Creem, and company show up to meet Raul outside of his work, but before they can go in, they need to take out a strigoi watchman. And while Gus may be retired, he’s still got it. He takes care of that strigoi, dodging its tongue like it’s nothing. Once Gus finishes his business on the roof, they all make their way inside, where they find plenty of fresh food. There’s a slight hiccup, though, when Eddie the security guard wanders onto the scene. Raul and Gus try to calmly diffuse the situation, while Creem decides to use his gun. As Gus and Creem chase after Eddie, the building’s alarm goes off, causing them to abandon their hunt and get out of there.
Now jobless and probably a wanted man, Raul is rightfully freaking out, but big cousin Gus has got him covered, even if Creem is raining on the parade, saying he’s disappointed in the haul and insisting that Raul can only stay one night with them. We’re barely an episode in and these leaders are already colliding. I’d suggest Gus binge watch The Wire and see what happens when you come at Marlo.
Meanwhile, Eph is still doctoring it up. He’s enjoying some bonding time with Alex, but that’s coming to an end as he declares her brother good to go. Just when Eph is about to head off with food and supplies, a panicked member of Alex’s crew reports that his partner was drained by strigoi. Why, you ask? Well, Eph reveals that they would do it so they could get his memories and find the rest of his people. Eph says he has a place where they can go. Hopefully it’s not his place because that only looked miserable enough for one person.
As if he weren’t already full of enough helpful information, Eph also has an idea for better use of the remaining fertilizer. Strigoi show up to the hideout, but instead of men, they find a bomb, which Eph instantly sets off. The huge explosion isn’t sufficient for Eph, who holds up the departure so he can gun down a few on-fire strigoi. “Okay, we can go now,” he declares. Alex is impressed. Great — another way to impress women that I can’t pull off.
Dutch has landed herself in
the principal’s Sanjay’s office. “I can see you are very frustrated here,” he says. “I get it. You’re an intelligent woman, you’ve got skills. And you find it a bit of an insult that you’re being asked to be a baby vessel.” Someone definitely thinks of himself as a feminist! Instead of you know, not making these women just be baby vessels, he offers Dutch a job as his “special liaison.” “So you want me to be the mouthpiece for your bulls—?” she responds. This causes him to finally cut the bulls— and admit this set-up isn’t his first choice, but he calls people “selfish” for not accepting the new reality. “Guess I’m not as civic minded as you are,” Dutch says, declining the offer. “Quite the misanthrope, actually.” Respect.
It’s easy to turn down a job when you think you’re set to escape, but Dutch’s plan gets thrown for a loop when she discovers Rosalinda crying in the bathroom. Her friend isn’t actually pregnant, so she needs to get lost. Dutch decides to have Jeremy take Rosalinda this time and come back for her later. Considering Jeremy was already trying to jump ship, he predictably freaks out over this sudden change of plans. He begins to smuggle Rosalinda out, but she has a panic attack literally two seconds after getting into the container — and while Dutch is trying to calm Rosalinda down, Jeremy continues to lose it, causing him to knock over some supplies. This gets the attention of security, who call in Nurse Greenwood. “I didn’t touch them,” screams Jeremy. The ladies say nothing, so Jeremy is taken away. I would say “poor Jeremy,” but he seemed like kind of a lame-o.
Eph’s secret location for Alex and crew is a local high school. She tries to convince him to stay, but the whole “my kid set off a nuclear bomb” thing is still weighing heavily on him. “Fighting lost me my kid,” he reveals, as Alex adds that she also lost her kid. I’d bet her kid didn’t set off a nuclear bomb, but I can’t confirm. “You’re not going to win,” Eph declares. “You need to be smarter; you need to think bigger.” Then, he has an epiphany that they should poison the strigois’ blood supply. “Okay, let’s do that,” replies Alex. She’s feisty — he definitely has a type!
What did you think? Were you as excited for the return of Gus and Dutch as I was? How great did it feel to not have Zach around?