“Do you believe it now, Doctor? The evil we’re facing?”
Well, if seeing is believing, then Ephraim Goodweather certainly believes Abraham Setrakian now. After initially rejecting the Holocaust survivor’s warnings about the nature of the plague that wiped out all but four lives on Regis Air Flight 753, Eph has now seen a grand total of five tongue-lashing, genitals-free, blood-lusting vampires — and there’s no putting that truth paste back in the tube.
With episode five of The Strain, titled “Runaways,” a crucial new alliance is formed: “Ephraham,” the fusion of Abraham’s sword-wielding crusade against the Master and his army of so-called Strigoi, and Ephraim’s mission to stop “Patient Zero” and his spread of an epidemic the scale of which mankind has never faced before. Though they view the problem from different angles, Eph and Abraham’s goals are aligned: they must stop the monstrosity threatening to destroy humanity, no matter the cost.
The war between man and vamp has waged for millennia, but for Abraham personally, it dates as far back as 1944 — when he was imprisoned in a concentration camp, and watched every night as a cloaked creature feasted upon his doomed bunkmates. How Abraham transformed from frightened victim to empowered slayer has yet to be seen, as his origin story remains a work in progress.
For Eph, the origin story unfolds before our very eyes. After bashing in the Regis pilot’s head with a fire extinguisher, then nearly becoming a blood-flavored milkshake at the Arnaud residence, Eph is fully on board with Abraham’s plan to track down the passengers on the Regis 753 manifest, and end what’s left of their sad, infected lives.
Eph and Abe track down Ansel Barbour, one of the four Regis “survivors,” and find an absolute horror show in the man’s home. Ansel’s wife has committed suicide, and infected Ansel himself is locked inside the shed out back, with the Barbour family’s jerk-face neighbor half-turned inside the shed as well. Rather than examining the victims, Eph does as Abraham requests: he shoots Ansel with a nail gun armed with silver nails, then video-records as Abe beheads the two vampires and sets their bodies on fire — and he gets it all on video.
But Eph’s cellphone footage isn’t enough to convince the CDC big-wigs that the disease is spreading fast and furious enough to warrant a city-wide quarantine. In fact, Eph’s bosses are more focused on apprehending Eph; they have video evidence of the disgruntled doctor dragging Captain Redfern’s body in the hospital basement. With no one in power willing to listen, and with everyone in power actively looking to shut him down, what choice does Eph have but to sign on with Abraham?
In time, however, the people at the top and at the bottom will all wake up to the very real presence of vampires in New York City. By the end of the episode, Nora Martinez breaks her mother free from her living facility, after it’s overrun by a monster infected with the strain. In Tribeca, rat exterminator extraordinaire Vasily Fet finds the missing Regis corpses walking and stalking through the sewers, unable to reach the surface in the harsh light of day. And there are two other Regis passengers that humanity will soon learn all about: penisless shock rocker Gabriel Bolivar, who has now killed and consumed two victims; and Joan Luss, the tough-talking attorney and mother who hasn’t fully transformed yet, but is starting to look at her own children like they’re hamburgers.
With the threat mounting, Abraham and Eph have little choice but to work with one another, and with anyone else willing to wake up and see the truth. Until then, they can do nothing more than go down the flight manifest, one passenger at a time, and pay each of them a visit with cane sword and nail gun in tow.
It’s not the best plan. It’s a flawed plan. But it’s a plan — and it’s as Abraham says: “Inaction is the greatest evil.” Someone ought to tell that to the CDC.