The Strain recap: 'Belly of the Beast'
Long-time enemies Eichhorst and Setrakian are briefly reunited
Brady and Manning. Carey and Minaj. Setrakian and Eichhorst.
There have been some epic rivalries in history, but how many have spanned 70-plus years, the Holocaust, and vampires taking over the world? After mostly sitting out the first four episodes, our favorite pawnbroker/professor/strigoi hunter returned in “Belly of the Beast” and was immediately reunited with his long-time nemesis. The brief showdown helped bring a much-needed spark to the final season, which finally seems to have picked up some necessary steam.
The fifth episode begins with Alex and Eph, who are headed to New Horizons when their car breaks down in rural Pennsylvania. They walk to an abandoned nearby town, prompting Alex to ask, “What’s so wrong about this place?” I mean, other than the whole “strigoi invasion” thing? Eph finds a young girl’s cell phone on the ground and goes through it. “Looking for something particular, or just being a creep?” Alex rightfully asks. The videos, which are two weeks old, show Emily Stevens and her family preparing to leave for New Horizons. Realizing they are in front of Emily’s house, Eph and Alex go inside. Will they find vampire Emily?
Luckily, they do not, but they do find a comfy-looking bed. Alex lies down and asks Eph if he’s going to join her. He gets weird, but she didn’t mean it like that; she just thinks they should stick together. Eph’s still as smooth as ever with the ladies. Actually, on second thought, he is really smooth with the ladies. Who else could score four different love interests during a vampire apocalypse?
Continuing the trend of non-Eph characters only appearing every other week, we pick back up with Fet, Quinlan, Roman, and Charlotte in North Dakota, where they watch from a distance as strigoi secure another nuke. Maybe even more troubling is the sight of mongrels, which actor Jonathan Hyde has described as a “faster, deadlier, nastier” creature. That’s not great news.
The plan is to ambush the convoy and steal a pit for the nuke our crew nabbed a few episodes ago. The no-name members of the team aren’t excited to help, especially with the introduction of the mongrels. “They even made Rob Zombie nervous,” one cracks. Solid joke. To be fair, these guys have also been providing their blood to ensure Quinlan’s in tip-top shape. Charlotte convinces them to get on board by promising some nonexistent silver as a reward.
After Charlotte gives Quinlan a fresh jar of blood, he looks longingly at her, which can only mean one thing — flashback time! The action shifts to 1888 London. (Why 1888? Probably because it’s a cool number.) A young lady named Louisa has unsuccessfully been searching for a “demon” — and she finds one when Quinlan saves her life. Her twin brother is near death and seeks immortality. “My order is not one which I’d wish any soul to join,” replies Quinlan. She convinces him to visit her brother, who looks rough and is also going mad (bad combination). Quinlan meets the whole family when Louisa’s daughter comes in; she’s scared because she saw a monster. So, as any good mom would, Louisa introduces the little girl to a vampire.
Thankfully, we don’t have to wait two weeks to learn the fate of Dutch, who’s allowed to appear in consecutive episodes (Corey Stoll welcomes her to the exclusive club). She’s forcefully taken from a cell to a candlelight basement dinner with Eichhorst, who greets her with an extended sniff. This might be a bold statement, but I think it’s the creepiest thing he’s done in four seasons — and that’s saying something. “Your blood type is incredibly desirable,” he posits. “But much like veal, there’s nothing better than infant B-positive.” Okay, yep, they’re definitely just birthing babies so they can drink their blood. I take it back; this is worse than the sniffing.
The purpose of this not-romantic-at-all dinner? Eichhorst wants to know where Setrakian is. He’s not pumped to learn that The Partnership brought in both Setrakian and Dutch, so the old man is probably already a goner. “The very system you created has robbed you of your greatest victory,” Dutch boasts. “You will never have the satisfaction of lording your big win over him.” This possibility clearly haunts Eichhorst. He rushes up to see Sanjay and find out what happened to Setrakian. Good news: Someone fitting his description is on site for bone marrow research.
The Master’s right-hand man rushes downstairs to find an unconscious Setrakian. The discovery brings a smile to his face. Against doctor’s orders, he demands that they awaken his nemesis.
“A230385, welcome back,” Eichhorst says when Setrakian wakes up. “Don’t you know, this is the end…of everything.” The powerful vampire continues to gloat over his weakened enemy. “I’ll see you in hell,” responds Setrakian, to which Eichhost replies, “But you are already there.” (Recap continues on page 2)
Meanwhile, Eph and Alex’s bond continues to grow — this time under the stars. “Do you ever wonder what life would be like if this never happened?” she asks. He responds, “I try not to.” I don’t blame him for not wanting to think of a world where he would still have to see Zach everyday. They’re spooked when they hear a noise downstairs, and when they go to scout it out, they find an older woman with a shotgun, who quickly apologizes and lowers the gun. A few things to know about Francis: Her hair is falling out, she’s turning, and she recently escaped from New Horizons. Eph really only cares about the last piece of news and convinces Francis to take him there.
On Eichhorst’s orders, Dutch has been sent to be drained. She’s brought to a room where people, including Rosalinda, are waiting to have their heads shaved. When it’s her friend’s turn, Dutch does what she does best: cause a scene. She rallies the captives to fight back, and after telling Rosalinda to get everyone to safety, Dutch goes searching for Setrakian. Since Eichhorst has seemingly been pulled away by the alarms, Dutch finds her old friend alone, but a cocky Eichhorst soon emerges — only to be set on fire by Dutch, who then wheels Setrakian away. (Seriously, can we all just admit that she’s the most badass character on the show?)
It’s time to steal this nuclear pit, so Quinlan positions himself in the middle of the road as the strigoi convoy approaches. He slashes the tires of the lead truck and climbs on top of the 18-wheeler storing the weapon, where he faces off against a strigoi, scoring a default win when his opponent is cut in half by a wire. After Quinlan easily dispatches of the driver, Fet eliminates the rest of the bad guys — or at least it seems that way until a strigoi appears out of nowhere and leaps towards Fet.
Thankfully, Quinlan takes care of it. “Resist the temptation to read anything into the fact that I saved you…again,” he quips. What a fun bromance happening in the middle of the end of days. The no-name helpers are pissed to learn of the nonexistent silver, leading to a stand-off that ends rather quickly when a strigoi emerges from the truck to claim a no-name victim. Quinlan kills it, but it does the trick of scaring off the men. The pit is secured. “Nothing matters until The Master is destroyed,” says Quinlan, raining on everyone’s parade.
Time for more fun in 1888 London. Quinlan seems to have moved in with Louisa, who has it bad for him. “You are a strange creature,” he tells her. When a vampire is saying that about you, it says something. Louisa attempts to She’s All That him into looking more human with some makeup. He still looks hella creepy, but she gets turned on when his nasty strigoi tongue comes out. Walking over to the bed, Louisa declares, “Please, I want to feel it.” Yo, she’s a freak. Quinlan proceeds to pull up her skirt and use his tongue on her leg in a very unsexy way. Then we get an abrupt and weird fast-forward to her brother’s funeral. After the burial, the priest finds a container full of soil, which can only mean one thing: The Master is there to say, “What’s up?” a.k.a. kill him.
Eph, Alex, and Francis arrive at New Horizons, but Francis isn’t doing too hot. And neither is Eph when he spots a pile of abandoned suitcases, including the one belonging to little Emily. Francis is on the verge of turning for sure, but she refuses to let Eph spare her with a bullet and heads off on her own, only to return with a bit of an attitude adjustment. The Master has taken control of her body. “He is an apt student,” the powerful vampire tells Eph of his son. “You would be astounded by his progress had you not fled New York like a coward.” Eph responds by finally putting that bullet in Francis’ head. Alex and Eph continue on their path into New Horizons and come across what appears to be a prison camp, a.k.a. “The Master’s final solution.” With that discovery, a shocked Eph realizes, “We’re not the farmers. We’re the livestock.”
What did you think? Did this week give you any hope for a strong final run? How did we get so lucky as to get two consecutive Zach-free episodes?