Sometimes there is an episode of a show that is so complex, so detailed, so masterfully crafted that it is impossible to summarize it in just one or two sentences. This is not one of those times. This week's episode of the The Strain, "Occultation," chronicles the ways in which our cast of characters prepare for an apocalyptic eclipse that lasts about two minutes. It's like December 2012 all over again.
Working for the Man
The episode opens with Eichorst in full zombie mode, drinking from a man he has imprisoned and tortured. I guess when you've helped orchestrate the Holocaust, run-of-the-mill feeding just doesn't do it for you anymore. He goes on about how the world is about to change, how his time is coming, etc, etc. We next see him, now thankfully in his street makeup, hiring Gus and Felix to do another job. Gus refuses because no amount of money is worth dealing with Eichorst's creepiness, but Eichorst once again threatens to have his mother deported if he doesn't cooperate. Since words aren't working, Gus starts hitting Eichorst, only to discover that he has superhuman strength and doesn't feel pain. Unfortunately, this is not the weirdest thing they will discover.
It turns out Jim is also still working for Eichorst, despite expressing his deep regrets for his actions last week. He, Gus and Felix pick up a body and dump it in a river. Felix gets curious and opens the body bag, revealing a throat tentacle. He panics, but Gus just thinks of his mother and carries on. Jim, of course, has already become familiar with this anatomical structure and clearly has the ability to suspend his better judgment at will.
Poor Career Choices
Last week, Fet got an up close and personal look at the infected. Like Eph, he's adjusted to the shock very quickly, though he does take some time to make an entry about it in his journal. He's also a fast learner. When he returns to his office, he finds it abandoned. He discovers his boss, fully transitioned, and quickly figures out that sunlight can kill the infected. He also finds his flirty secretary transitioning, and though he's clearly upset about it, he doesn't hesitate to kill her as well. Setrakian will be thrilled to find this guy.
Fet goes to visit his parents, which he apparently has not done for two years. This is because he and his father had a falling-out; Fet was offered a scholarship to a graduate architecture program at Cornell, but turned it down to become a rat catcher. Presumably, he has a good reason, but it doesn't seem to have ever been shared with his father. Fet begs his father to take his mother and leave the city. His father doesn't listen, because that's what people do in the first acts of horror shows, and Fet walks away once more.
Hope He Had a Refill
Setrakian has been preparing for the eclipse by sticking with his usual routine of cutting off people's heads. He goes to another passenger's house and finds that the man has already infected his entire family. This normally wouldn't be an issue, but Setrakian begins to have some kind of heart trouble in the middle of his mission. He attempts to take a prescription, meaning that this is a pre-existing condition, but drops the bottle. Thanks to the sunlight, he is able to get away, and he still manages to kill all of the infected by blowing up the house. The man is good, but there's only so much a nearly 90-year-old body can do.
CDC's Most Wanted
Finally, we have Eph's escapades. The FBI has already warned his family that he's wanted, though they don't specify for what. Eph goes to them anyway because he needs Kelly and Zack to get out of the city as soon as possible. His story sounds crazy and they've already received a warning from the FBI, so Kelly doesn't really believe him, but she has no intention of turning him in. That job falls to her boyfriend Matt. Matt has been trying desperately to instate himself as the man of the house, and Eph's presence doesn't help him. So in addition to being generally unpleasant, he calls the FBI. Eph is arrested, and Kelly yells at Matt for overstepping his boundaries when he is only a "guest" in her life. Damn, girl, tell him how you really feel!
While the level of government incompetence on this show is astounding, it's kind of understandable that the two FBI agents questioning Eph don't believe his story. He should probably be taken at least a little bit seriously, since he's a high-ranking CDC doctor and he's talking about a city-wide epidemic, but the loss of genitals and gain of a larynx tentacle aren't the most likely of symptoms. Realizing that telling the truth is futile, Eph pretends to be responsible for whatever happened to the bodies from the plane. He refuses to say where they are, instead offering to take the agents to the bodies.
The plan works; Eph and the agents are out in the city when the eclipse finally occurs. As I said before, it is very brief. But it gives us a taste of the infection's spread and what's to come at nightfall. First, Ben the ill-fated medical examiner makes a reappearance. He's fully transitioned and trying to force people out of their cars so he can eat them. The less-awful of the two FBI agents tries to help and is killed. The other agent then attempts to stop Ben, but is badly hurt. He's infected now, so even though he begs for Eph's help, nothing can be done. Eph uncuffs himself and makes a run for it.
Simultaneously, Gus and Felix encounter an infected person in an ally. Gus manages to kill him, but not before Felix finds a worm burrowing into his skin. They both attempt to pull it out, but are arrested. Alas, poor Felix, we barely knew ye.
Also simultaneously, we have Matt. He's at work, trying to figure out a way to make amends with Kelly, when one of his employees stumbles in with a neck wound. Matt finds two infected people and, eager to assert himself after the emasculation Kelly gave him earlier, marches straight towards them. Being the boyfriend of the protagonist's wife, he was always fated for an untimely death.
The eclipse passes. Kelly and Zack are still at home, having decided to ignore Eph's advice. Eph goes to see Setrakian at the pawn shop, knowing that he can no longer help by legal means. Nora and her mother are already there. Setrakian declares them both ready to do what is necessary and, since everything has gone to hell in a hand basket, announces that he has a new plan. Find out what it is next week!
The Strain airs Sundays at 10pm on FX.
(Image courtesy of FX)