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The Strain weekly recap: Everybody wins with ‘Last Rites’

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?

Finally, after weeks of consistent failure, the heroes of The Strain scored a win. Sure, it was short-lived; immediately following their emergency broadcast to the nation at large, Ephraim Goodweather and friends were chased away from Abraham Setrakian’s pawn shop, losing a beloved member of their group in the process. (More on that later.) Even still, you take your victories where you can — and given the string of embarrassing misfires in recent weeks, the fact that Eph was able to get the word out about the vampire outbreak was nothing short of a total triumph.

STRAIN_112_00218_hires1The good guys earned some big kudos in other areas this week, if only in subtle, unobvious ways. Even though Nora Martinez’s mother became a vampire juice box when Thomas Eichhorst’s men infiltrated the pawn shop, at least she had the strength to do what needed to be done. With hot tears streaming down her face, and wails of despair escaping her lips, Nora wielded a great sword and beheaded the beleaguered Mama Martinez, displaying her warrior’s spirit in the process. If she wasn’t ready to take on the Strigoi strain before, she is now.

Abraham, too, managed to overcome some past weaknesses. We learned why he was so distraught at being unable to finish the job against the Master during last week’s rendezvous in the tunnels; way back in the 1960s, Setrakian tracked Eichhorst and the Master to an ancient Albania castle, where he was trapped and forced to climb his way out of a well with nothing but his hands. When he emerged, he returned to his village, only to find his beloved Miriam transformed into a vampire. He did his part in releasing her, but couldn’t bring himself to get rid of her completely — to that end, he cut out his loved one’s heart, and still holds onto it all these years later.

But not anymore. As Eichhorst closes in on Abraham in the present day, the elderly vampire hunter takes one last longing moment with Miriam’s heart-in-a-jar, bidding it adieu, and blowing it a kiss. “Til we meet again,” he whispers, his scratchy voice unwavering; if he hasn’t quite overcome the guilt of getting Miriam killed, he’s at least accepted it, and prepared to move forward with what must be done.

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The heroes experienced a couple of other small victories — Eph relishing in the opportunity to talk science again, Dutch somewhat atoning for shutting down the Internet, and Vasiliy Fet successfully flirting with Dutch — but the bad guys scored a couple of big ones, too. For one, Eichhorst’s infiltration of Abraham’s pawn shop means that the good guys are without a home; their proverbial Bat Cave is no longer accessible. Where do they go from here?

Even worse, one of the most powerful humans in the world — ailing billionaire Eldritch Palmer — finally got his dying wish. In league with the Master in order to rid himself of terminal illness, Palmer finally met the all-powerful vampire and tasted some of his precious blood. Exactly how that changes things for Palmer remains unclear, but the final shot of Palmer basking in the rain, laughing and sobbing at the heavens with renewed vigor, plainly illustrates that this is a new Eldritch Palmer; fear him accordingly.

Beyond the successes of the characters, this week’s episode of The Strain felt like a true win. After a few weeks of slower episodes that didn’t move the needle much, “Last Rites” actually pushed things forward. It forced our heroes on the run. It exposed the vampire secret to the world at large. It turned one man into a powerful new foe. It even reintroduced the vampire-hunting vampires, now paired up with fugitive Gus. With only one episode left in the first season, The Strain is poised for big things as it prepares to close its first year. Here’s hoping that the winning streak stays alive.