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Episode 13: "The Master"

by Dan Tomasik

Quick Taste:

The bloody showdown between humans and vampires brings new enemies, new alliances, and new revelations.

 

Summary:

In a season that has been filled with lulls, inconsistencies, and disappointments; the finale has succeeded where all others have failed. From start to finish, nothing but excellency. Every character has a moment to shine, every scene has an impact, every death has a strong helping of kick-ass. Even the jokes are the funniest of the series thus far.

Eldritch, having finally been seen by the Master in the previous episode, stretches his rejuvenated body, and what a difference it makes. Eldritch has been around since the start, but it’s been almost impossible to take him seriously as a villain from his hospital bed. Jonathan Hyde has such a kind face, seeing him so helpless and vulnerable, “menace” is the last thing that comes to mind. Now that he’s up and about, his true darkness can run free. Any beliefs that he was a naive old man unaware of what he was getting himself involved in disappear as he handles his first obstacle with pure ruthlessness. His true part in all this remains to be seen, but he is to have much significance in the future. This mirrors Gus, who has been recruited as an ally/familiar by the as-yet-unnamed vampire corps fighting against the Master to act on their behalf in the sunlight. This could be the beginning of a beautiful rivalry.

Eph’s story arc has also come full circle. His status as an alcoholic returns to haunt and tempt him. On the one hand is the comfort of being able to concern oneself with such trivial matters as alcoholism when there are vampires roaming the streets. On the other is the threat of Eph sinking into a depressing, moody, sulking mope in the next season. This series needs momentum and energy to do its best work (as this episode wonderfully illustrates), devoting time each episode to watching Eph climb back into the bottle will only serve to kill that momentum. There is the chance that Zach may take over for him, developing into a leader as his father sinks into a pathetic shell of himself. However, all this is merely speculation. Who knows, maybe it’ll just be one drink?

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Vasiliy is wonderfully fun as always; cracking comments one minute, kicking in doors the next. It’s days like this that are the reason Vasiliy got into the extermination business in the first place. Finding ratholes, setting traps, playing with dynamite; throw in an army of vampires and it’s Candyland. Nora gets a small but powerful scene on the rooftop with Eph. Too often she’s been regarded to the sidelines from either fear or uselessness. Even if she isn’t leading the charge, she proves herself to be as strong and capable as anyone.

Without doubt, the best scene is the attack on Bolivar’s Theater. Silver bullets flying, vamps falling left & right; a brawl with Dutch, Vasiliy and Eichhorst! Above it all, Abraham has his showdown with the Master in the loft. Everything you could ask for in a final battle is here. Numbers, weapons, explosives, carnage, and revelations. The show does a great job handling the big showdown; mainly the question of how does an 80-something pawn shop owner with a sword fight a 9-foot-tall monster vampire that moves faster than you can blink? Using the sunlight! The one thing bigger than he is.

Violence:

Yes. Very. 

Horror:

There’s a terrifying moment where it appears Eph just shot his former wife in the face before his son impaled her body. The whole thing happens quickly, but the time waiting for him to turn her over to check is nerve-wracking.

The biggest scare of all comes near the end when Kelly does appear. Silhouetted over the covered-up windows and door, everything in your mind knows it’s not her, but still you want to believe there’s another way. Those brief moments are more terrifying than any attack or bloodshed. 

Biggest Shock:

Sunlight has always been the ace-in-the-hole when it comes to dealing with vampires. If staking them or burning them or dousing them doesn’t work; the light of day will. It’s the one thing too big for them to shake off or resist. For the Master to still live after being exposed to it is a major blow to morale.

WIBTOVE (Why It’s Better Than Other Vampire Entertainment):

The moment when the Master is exposed to sunlight and the world seemingly stands still for the other strigoi. Then, it starts moving backwards. It’s not just retreating, it genuinely feels like going back in time, as if some mystical force is pulling them away. Pulling them where? Who knows, but it’s quite an exit. 

Vampire Kill of the Week: Vasiliy Fet

Vasiliy’s use of a “common exterminating tool” (dynamite) against the first line of vampire defense.

Honorable Mention: Vasiliy Fet

Vasiliy shooting silver nails into Eichhorst’s face.

 

Episode Score: 8.9

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Dan Tomasik

An East Coaster by birth, Dan Tomasik has established a solid reputation as a Guru for all things TV and movie-related. Fueled by a passion for great storytelling and equally great criticism, he comes to you now from Los Angeles. Opinionated, judgmental, sarcastic, but never unfair; welcome to TV Reviews.

Cast and Crew

Director: Phil Abraham

Written By: Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan

Air Date: October 5th, 2014

Overall Score: 8.9/10

Check out the source materialThe Strain Volume 1

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