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The Strain weekly recap: ‘Occultation’ moons New York

There’s nowhere to run to, baby. Nowhere to hide.

For the poor souls trapped in New York on FX’s The Strain, the safe zones are becoming few and far between. A blood-thirsty menace rages throughout New York City, thanks to an ancient, evil virus brought into America’s borders via Regis Air 753, and on this week’s episode, “Occultation,” the bad blood finally boils over, thanks to an ill-timed eclipse, and an impossibly fast rate of infection.

The Strain S01E05-2Rat exterminator Vasiliy Fet has seen the menace first hand. Traumatized by his run-in with sewer-dwelling monsters only a few episodes back, Fet returns to work and finds that his colleagues have turned. He’s forced to “release” his boss and secretary Loretta by bathing them in sunlight, watching them cook before his very eyes.

Convinced now that there’s a “horrible pestilence” running through the five boroughs, Vasiliy heads to Brighton Beach, in one last bid to convince his estranged father to leave New York and take Vasiliy’s mother with him. Stubborn as ever, the father refuses, instead chastising Vasiliy for turning down an architecture scholarship at Cornell University in lieu of a career as an exterminator. Disheartened, but not defeated, Vasiliy leaves his father behind (“I tried,” he sighs), to confront his true calling: Killing pests.

Though he’s not an exterminator by trade, low-life criminal Gus Elizalde shows promise as a vampire killer in his own right. After being forced to return to the employ of Nazi vampire Thomas Eichorst, Gus executes one final job — dumping the nasty remains of Regis pilot Captain Redford into the East River — before heading back home into Manhattan with his good pal Felix. There, in the darkness of an eclipse-powered day, Gus and Felix are confronted by a monster in what would normally be broad daylight. Gus fells the thing with one well-deployed bash to the brain, but not before some of the vampire’s deadly worms make contact with Felix’s flesh. Now, it’s only a matter of time before Gus’ pal turns.

The monster Gus faces down is a familiar one. It’s the morgue medical examiner, killed to the tune of “Sweet Caroline” so many episodes ago. As it turns out, he’s back up and running in full vampire mode; when New York is bathed in sudden darkness via the eclipse, the examiner (and several other vamps) take the opportunity to feast on commoners, including two federal agents who have Ephraim Goodweather in their custody. With the feds dead, Eph manages to get out of his handcuffs and back to the streets; he immediately beelines it for fellow vampire-killer-in-arms Abraham Setrakian’s pawn shop up in Harlem, hoping to figure out the next move.

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When he arrives, Eph’s relieved to see that his partner and sometimes lover, Nora Martinez (and her mentally frail mother), already under Abraham’s protection. An exhausted Abe, who just barely survived torching a funeral home filled with vampires all by himself some hours earlier, sizes up his guests — these strangers suddenly turned allies. “You’re both ready,” he snarls. “Good. I have a new plan.”

What that plan entails remains to be seen. Does it involve recruiting more allies, as Abe hinted at once upon a time? If so, Fet and Gus seem like strong candidates for the gig. Does Abraham’s plan involve initiating destruction on a wider scale throughout New York? At this point, the Big Apple seems all but lost to the vampire plague; perhaps it’s time for extreme, city-leveling measure.

The Strain S01E05-4For his part, Eph seems game for anything that will end in the contagion’s collapse, just as long as his estranged ex-wife Kelly and their son Zachary are safely outside of New York’s city limits — which is not looking likely at the moment, unfortunately. Right now, Kelly and Zach are still at home, having just watched the eclipse from the safety of their Woodside, Queens abode. It won’t be safe for long.

At his office, Kelly’s live-in boyfriend Matt confronts a pair of blood-hungry strangers, the results of their showdown unseen, but certain nonetheless — the man’s become vampire chow. And as we’ve seen from past experiences, newbie vampires always return home to the ones they love. It’ll be no different for Vampire Matt, returning him to kiss the ones he loves the most.

Unless Kelly and Zachary get a move on soon, the ones Eph loves the most are in imminent danger. It echoes the cold, harsh words of Thomas Eichorst: Love is a blessing, but it also binds, chokes, and strangles. Apparently, love also sucks — and it’s currently poised to suck the blood right out of Ephraim Goodweather’s family.

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