'The Strain' Recap: Vaccines Are Totally Safe

They're stronger united, but grow when they're apart.

FX Networks

This week the Scooby Gang divides to conquer. Dutch and Fet go on a hunting spree to clear their local area and finally hook up, Eph and Martinez wrestle with the ethics of using human lab rats, and Abraham Setrakian journeys to his past to help himself in the present. It’s a low-stakes episode punctuated with great character moments, and a cooldown after last week’s long and breakneck premiere.

In a flashback to the ‘60s, a younger Setrakian (actor Jim Watson in some awful make-up) meets Eldritch Palmer for the first time. Palmer challenges the young Professor Setrakian to find Sardu’s cane, using his desire to prove vampires exist as leverage. Setrakian accepts.

Our man finds the item in the possession of an antiques shop owner named Draverhaven, a Nazi doctor in hiding. Setrakian chases Draverhaven throughout the city until he manages to get it by, well, sheer luck really.

In the present, Setrakian is losing patience. He’s struggling to find the “Occido Lumen,” that ancient book that could give them a cheat code to defeat The Master. In a moment of fury, Setrakian comes across a scan of one page detailing the Strigoi. If Setrakian could just find the text, his career would be made. That is clearly not gonna happen.

In the lab, Martinez and Eph are hitting roadblocks. Besides the emotional tax upon them, they’re no closer to cracking the Strigoi strain. Then they do, which is good for them but kind of sucks. A crucial obstacle is solved in a cinch. This isn’t an outright cure, mind you, but it “wipes out the central nervous system” in the Strigoi. This is a major breakthrough but its woefully muted and kind of rushed out before the commercial break.

And now we’re back to Coco, who has apparently shined in her position as Palmer’s assistant. Her past as a college playwright inspires Palmer to make her his speechwriter. At the opening of Palmer’s philanthropic FREEDOM DRIVE in Queens to give FREE food and supplies to New Yorkers who love FREEDOM, Palmer reads a speech penned by Coco.

Enter Setrakian. Accompanied by Fet, Setrakian confronts Palmer at his FREEDOM drive to see if he possesses the Lumen. In a sharp tete-a-tete, with Setrakian’s beloved Miriam called by name, Setrakian realizes he doesn’t have the Lumen. Fet then (harmlessly) blows up some of Palmer’s supplies. It’s not a full-blown attack, but a warning. It’s their push, letting Palmer know they can and will push harder.

The show is clearly dipping back into characterization, which is much appreciated after the intense plotting of the first episode, but here’s hoping that we don’t do away with plot altogether. The vaccine discovery points to a potential version of this show that isn’t arcane and hard to follow. No one wants to watch that.

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