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Picking up right where the previous episode left off, the show opens up with a first of random scene of the rocker turned lackey Gabriel Olivar (Jack Kesy) dragging a body bag of dirt through a Brooklyn alley. Of course this weird behavior did not go unnoticed and some of New York’s finest stopped the rocker to investigate further. It seems the master has already transferred his essence into some “sacred” dirt and enlisted Gabriel to be his transporter. However, the rocker did not come alone. Once confronted and met with some hostility, he quickly called out to other infected for back-up.
This scene did little for The Strain: Fort Defiance as a whole, or even the series. Like the clip of the Eldritch’s former butler/right hand Reggie Fitzwilliam entering the newly fortified Staten Island. Moments like these did little for moving along the plot or story, other than letting viewers know what was already confirmed-New Yorkers are finally reacting more to the growing plague. It is good to know that Fitzwilliam is still alive, but what he will contribute to the story is yet to be revealed.
Considering that Staten Island has now become a pseudo Fort Knox, it sets up the stage for maybe a possible war zone in the city and shows that councilwoman Justine Farad (Samantha Mathis) is bringing in the crazy for this season. After alluding to her stance on the Strigori from the previous episodes in The Strain, she has made good with her promise. Her tactics of hanging the dead Strigori bodies at the entrance of the island may just be a little overkill (no pun intended). I doubt these vampires really care about this message when they come to invade the plentiful food source on the island.
Another noticeable, weird moment was the crowd’s reaction to the unveiling of the Staten Island “warning sign”. At first, the people had a logical reaction of disgust for the brutality and genocide of what used to be New York citizens. Then, the look of disgust quickly became cheers and applause for her initiative to rid the island of the creatures. A little bipolar moment, but it seemed to win them over in the end.
While Staten Island was basically declaring war, The Strain‘s main characters were continuing to find a less aggressive approach to the Strigori problem. Dutch and Vasily went on their usual patrol to kill some nests and try to fortify the island. All was slightly interrupted once Dutch saw a flyer of her ex-girlfriend that left her for dead. Getting her emotions involved and needing closure, she took a trip to her ex-lover’s mother’s home. That went just as expected, considering that the mother hated Dutch. Scenes with these two seem to be pretty dull when it comes to story progression. Their chemistry does not really seem to be there and the writers add in the sex scenes to just make viewers pay attention to what is a odd pairing.
For some reason, the writers of The Strain keep trying to show more of a dimension for Dutch. Giving a little bit more into her backstory relationship, which does not fully define the character. If anything, this episode just made it clearer as to why her ex abandoned her in Dutch’s time of need. From the mother’s disdain of Dutch and her warning of the bad karma that she has invited into her life, the writers seem to be foreshadowing that something bad is going to happen to The Strain‘s resident wisecracking hacker.
The rest of The Strain: Fort Defiance was filled with some moderate action to steady character progression. Eph and Nora were successful in creating a virus to infect the Strigori, only to have some of their work trashed by Eph’s increasingly annoying son. Zach continues to perfect his scowl and is still mad at his father. At this point, it would be a welcome watch to see Zach get written off the show.
There was an interesting revelation with Setrakian. His decision to confide in Nora about his true age (94) and his Strigori eye drop concoction was a little contradictory to his previous character development. Considering that the The Strain‘s resident professor/vampire hunter hated every and all things Strigori, it was a little puzzling that he relies on them to maintain his vitality by ingesting the worms with a Breaking Bad-esque home lab solution through his eyes. Not only was Setrakian a bit of a hypocrite, but also a genius for discovering a fountain of youth. This plot development would explain why the professor has not needed his heart medication since losing it in season one.
On par with The Strain’s usual momentum of storytelling, the most action and plot moving scenes were saved for the last ten minutes or so of the episode. For some time Gus (Miguel Gomez) has been training with the Strigori Swat team and now the training lessons were going to be applied to their mission of kidnapping Eldritch Palmer. This was kind of the simplest and moderately thought-out plan because Palmer already had a fail safe. The team broke into the office, but ended up getting lit up by built-in UV lights. The only one to make it out was Gus. Now that he has no team backing him and no family, viewers can just hope that he will make it through with the skills he has learned.
Opinion By Tyler Cole
Paste Magazine: The Strain Review: Fort Defiance