Episode 12: “Last Rites”
by Dan Tomasik
Eichhorst attacks the pawn shop, Nora is forced to say goodbye to one she loves, Gus is acquired by the strigoi corps, the origins of Setrakian’s heart-in-a-jar are revealed, and Eldritch receives a mysterious visitor.
It seems like a fair amount of The Strain is waiting around and holing up. Wait at the airport, wait at the the check-in, wait at home, wait for the virus to spread, wait for the eclipse, hole up in the gas station, wait in the jail cell, hole up in the pawn shop, hole up in the sewers, wait at the pawn shop, etc. “Last Rites” promises to be the last episode of waiting around, for next week is the season finale. In its defense, “Last Rites” stretches and expands beyond just Setrakian’s pawn shop, giving us another look at his past as we are finally given an explanation for the heart he keeps in a jar in his basement.
There’s a surprising connection formed between Setrakian and Nora. Strange to find common ground between the strongest character and the weakest, but both understand the pain of letting go of a loved one. In this way, Nora has proven herself even more than Eph. Eph’s body count may be bigger, but everything he’s killed has already been turned. Striking down the mother you cared for like a daughter is far more difficult than slaying the empty shell of a human being. Setrakian, rough and gruff curmudgeon that he is, offers up a moment of shocking vulnerability and weakness in the episode’s final moments as he says goodbye to his wife’s heart.
Also notable is the return of the strigoi soldiers from half a season ago, meeting up with, of all people, Gus. Perhaps now Gus’ purpose will be revealed. It’s about damn time he was relevant. The soldiers’ screen time is about the same, but doesn’t carry the same suspense or fear as their introduction. Fortunately, the inherent badass of machine gun-toting vampires makes up for the weaknesses.
Speaking of characters seen a lot, but doing little, there’s Eldritch. He grows tired of waiting for the Master to grant him immortality, and it’s absolutely justified. For an ancient entity able to move faster than the eye can see, how difficult is it to pay a quick visit to a dedicated follower and give him some blood? 12 episodes to get around to it? No wonder Eldritch is so perturbed. It’s uncertain whether this carries over from other vampire media, but the Master’s “gift” seemed a little on the light side. A couple drops in the mouth, nothing more. In Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (a bible among vampire mythology), such an act was known as “a fool’s dose” of vampire blood. All the sickness and suffering, none of the longevity or power. Eldritch seems to be rejuvenated, but as a general rule, every deal with the devil has strings attached.
A short brawl with vampire Bolivar. Hitting him with chairs, tables, and assorted objects. Some people just don’t appreciate maggot death metal. Several vampires get shot with ordinary bullets, then get put down so quickly it’s more like someone shut them off than shot them.
A few nasty looking strigoi, a horse lying on the ground with its guts hanging out, the bloody fingers of a starved Setrakian climbing out of a well, Setrakian sits by the headless turned bodies of his family and cuts out his wife’s heart.
The return of Bolivar, and the subsequent death of Nora’s mother. It’s strange, but for some reason I thought she was going to make it to the end of the season.
WIBTOVE (Why It’s Better Than Other Vampire Entertainment):
The feeling when Eldritch revels in his newly acquired immortality. The knowledge that it’s going to backfire on him some way, some how.
Vampire Kill of the Week:
Everyone gangs up on Bolivar to hack, beat, and pound on him.
Episode Score: 8.0