Following his monumental meltdown last week, we were left fearing for the sanity of aging vampire hunter Abraham Setrakian. Poor A230385 isn’t in a good place; he’s been driven half-mad by anger and obsession and the beginning of this week’s penultimate episode sees him wallowing in his basement, talking to the still-beating vampire heart he keeps in a jar.
The Strain’s flashbacks have always been to the benefit of the show and ‘Last Rites’ utilises these glimpses of past events to show us whose heart resides in the glass jar. Though it was fairly obvious from the start that the heart had to belong to someone so dear to Setrakian that he couldn’t bear to part with it, it’s good to finally get confirmation that the heart belonged to his deceased wife, Miriam.
Having escaped the concentration camps as a young man, Setrakian’s obsession with tracking down The Master costs him the life of his wife. Eichorst tricks him into leaving his wife by sending him on a wild goose chase; it’s only when Setrakian is miles away from home and stuck at the bottom of a well, that he realises he’s been foolish in leaving Miriam unprotected. He returns home to find his wife infected and is forced to kill her, rather than allow her to live as the one thing he despises. In order for her death to serve as a reminder, Setrakian cuts out Miriam’s heart and keeps it with him.
Back in the present Setrakian snaps out of his funk when Dutch returns with a cunning plan to put right her mistakes. Using her tech know-how, she gets Eph to send out an emergency-broadcast message to warn people about the infection. With roughly 30 seconds to work his magic, Eph announces to the world that they are in the grip of a virus that will claim their loved ones. The message is broadcast successfully but it also alerts Eichorst to the gang’s whereabouts.
If you’ve been wondering what happened to Gabe Boliver, the egotistical rock-star from the beginning, he returns towards the end of the episode, smashing through the basement and infecting Nora’s mother. Poor Nora is forced to sacrifice her mum before the gang flee the basement in search of another hiding place, with Setrakian abandoning his wife’s heart for good.
While Gus has had one of the weakest storylines, he’s slowly become one of my favourite characters. In this episode he has another run in with a group of Strigoi but he comes out of it unscathed. Again. He’s either really crafty or just plain fluky; I haven’t worked out which one yet. The renegade Strigoi resistance save Gus’ life, only to kidnap him. What their motives are remain unclear but their part in the series certainly throws an exciting new light on the story.
Much like Gus, Eldritch Palmer has been a character without much to do in The Strain. He’s been backing The Master since the beginning – a delusional dying man willing to forsake humanity in return for immortality – but we haven’t learnt much about him beyond the obvious longing for eternal life. After this week’s episode, we’re still none the wiser but Palmer might become a key-player in the series after the events in ‘Last Rites’.
He’s been looking worse with every episode, but not even being on death’s door could dampen Palmer’s sense of importance when it comes to The Master. Leave it to Thomas Eichorst then, to bring Palmer down a few pegs by reminding him that The Master is in charge and is just as likely to let him die as he is to give him everlasting life.
The writers keep us waiting until the very end to see whether Palmer will be rewarded as he hoped. When The Master makes his grand entrance, there’s a flutter of doubt in Palmer’s eyes but he’s granted his prize for betraying the human race. His right-hand-man, Fitzwilliam, finds Palmer standing out in the rain, laughing like the mad man that he is. Not only is he rich and powerful, but he’s also now immortal. I can’t wait to see how he fits into The Master’s bigger plan, if he fits into it at all.
With the finale next week, The Strain promises a showdown of epic proportions as the battle between good and evil shifts up a gear. It’s not likely to tie up many loose ends, but it is bound to be exciting. See you next week for one more round of Strigoi hunting before season one concludes.