Previously on The Strain, Palmer had a terrible reaction to his impending death. In the season’s penultimate episode, “Last Rites,” he hasn’t come any closer to accepting the inevitable. His one consolation is that the Master should be delivering on his promise of immortality any time now. Sensing this little bit of happiness, Eichorst stops by to stomp all over it. He reminds Palmer that he’s now powerless and the Master can do whatever the hell he wants. This is the closest I have ever come to liking Eichorst.

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Albania, 1967

After their horribly failed attempt at killing the Master, Setrakian and crew return to the pawn shop. Setrakian is still annoyed that his companions didn’t let his geriatric self run into a massive vampire nest, so he channels his frustration by gazing at his heart in a jar. Nora notices it and asks questions, which triggers his jackass response and a flashback.

Back in 1967, Setrakian was a middle-aged man living in Albania. Or more accurately, the actor who played 20-something Setrakian was living in Albania with terrible makeup. He’s hunted the Master and Eichorst to a castle outside of a small village. He and his wife, Miriam, have been trying to eradicate the strigoi for years, which has led to a leg injury for Miriam and the impossibility of any kind of domestic bliss. He’s as consumed with vengeance now as he is as an old man, and this has made things like safety and starting a family difficult. Miriam clearly wants to start focusing on living rather than hunting, and Setrakian promises her that after this excursion they will do just that. I bet you can’t guess what’s going to happen next.

Setrakian goes to the castle ruins and finds a well that looks like a promising entrance to the Master’s lair. He uses a rope to climb into it and then explores the tunnels it connects to. After a while, he finds a small strigoi nest. The Master uses one of the strigoi to tell Setrakian that he’s an idiot, which is valid. His plan for the past 70 years seems to be “Find the Master and somehow overpower him,” and no matter how many times this fails miserably, he doesn’t change strategies. He runs back to the well’s entrance only to find the rope gone and Eichorst in full gloat-mode. He can’t believe Setrakian fell for such an obvious trap, and now he’s stuck far from home as the sun is going down. They clearly don’t view Setrakian as a threat, but have taken a personal interest in him because it’s an easy display of power. Given their interactions with Palmer, not much has changed over the years.

This is Not a Test

Back in the present, Dutch returns to the shop. These idiots never should have let her leave in the first place, since she’s the only person on Earth with a prayer of fixing the Internet, but I digress. Fet is happy to see her, but Eph continues to be a control freak and can’t help but be snide. Luckily, Dutch rises above and presents them with a plan to save the world. She says she can hack the emergency broadcast system and make it useful for something besides interrupting Jeopardy! They will be able to broadcast a short message on every television and radio in the country. Even Eph can’t find a fault with this plan, and agrees to prepare a speech.

Fet and Dutch have a little chat while she’s setting up her equipment. He tries to bond with her over daddy issues, since that’s the only thing he can bond with people over besides rats, and practically salivates over her while she talks about girls she’s dated. On the plus side, she appears to be bisexual, so there’s a chance for him if he ever improves his game.

After that foray into the Kinsey scale, Setrakian emerges from his depression cocoon just in time for the broadcast. He talks about how long it’s been since he’s seen the Master and how frustrating the past century has been for him, hoping to help them understand why he acted the way he did last week. “He’s a Nazi vampire that had me in a concentration camp” should really be reason enough, but he elaborates anyway. He also admits to being insane in the last episode and apologizes for his behavior. I initially assumed this was a ploy to give himself a chance to do something equally suicidal, but he actually seems genuine. We’ll see what happens next week.

Dutch finishes hacking the emergency broadcast system and gets Eph on TV. He gives a speech, accompanied by photos and video, explaining the basics of the plague and telling everyone they are in extreme danger. They manage to get up to the “sunlight kills them” fact before being cut off. It’s the first real bit of success they’ve had since this whole thing began. Surely, this is when things start going their way.

Who Do You Think You Are, Collecting Your Jar of Hearts?

Just kidding! Right after the broadcast, Nora’s mother starts screaming from the bedroom where she had been resting. Everyone rushes to her and finds none other than Goth Gabe drinking her blood. I was wondering what happened to him! Through it all, he still has his wig. To make matters worse, Eichorst and a few other strigoi break through the pawn shop’s front doors. Everyone retreats to the basement, with Fet carrying Nora’s mother.

They only have a few minutes before Eichorst will break through the basement’s defenses. Luckily, Setrakian has an emergency exit through a meat locker because that’s the kind of life he lives. Nora first has to deal with the fact that her mother’s been infected, though. She’s devastated, and Eph moves in to take care of the situation. But Nora knows she must do it herself, so she beheads her mother.

This reminds Setrakian of what happened in 1967. After spending all night climbing out of the well, he returns to find his home destroyed and Miriam missing. He only has to wait until sundown to know what happened. Miriam returns as a strigoi, bringing with her the two children she and Setrakian always wanted but never had. Setrakian doesn’t hesitate to kill her. He then cuts out her heart so that he will “always remember” the evil he is fighting against.

He’s kept the heart with him ever since, but now he must leave it at last. Bidding Miriam a final farewell, he and his group escape just before Eichorst finally breaks in.

Your Weekly Five-Minute Segment

Elsewhere, Gus is still alive. He abducts a silver-toothed gangster contact, Alfonso, because he wants access to his weaponry. Alfonso gives him a bunch of guns, but their meeting is interrupted by an associate saying that a shipment has arrived. Gus is curious and makes Alfonso show him what’s in the containers. 

Alfonso doesn’t actually know what’s in them, which ends up being a bad thing. The containers are filled with strigoi that immediately start attacking the pair. Gus gives Alfonso a gun and, like a dumbass, Alfonso starts shooting at him instead of the obviously murderous creatures rapidly encroaching. The boys fight and would have died horribly if Quinlan and his team of unidentified creatures hadn’t arrived just in the nick of time. They make quick work of the strigoi and abduct Gus, leaving Alfonso alone and very confused.

Who Approved this Costume?

The episode ends as it began, with Palmer and his mortal coil. He’s inching ever closer to death when an extra from an ’80s B-movie the Master finally shows up. Palmer almost stops his own heart with joy. The hunk of melting plastic Master drips something into Palmer’s mouth, though no worm is discernable. Whatever it is does the trick, though, because when Fitzwilliam arrives he finds Palmer outside, laughing in the rain.

The Strain season 1 finale airs next Sunday, October 5 at 10pm on FX.

(Image courtesy of FX)

Mary Kate Costigan

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV