Not to be too flip about a serious development or too smug about a recent prediction, but didn't I just say that Dr. Ephraim Goodweather was completely and utterly recognizable with his head shaved?
Yes, fellow fans of "The Strain." Yes, I did.
And do you know what that freshly shorn "new look" gets him? Shot right in the chest, that's what. Because an armed assassin compares a photo of the former CDC scientist with hair to the guy standing in front of him without it and draws the painfully obvious conclusion: same exact dude! Boom! Eph!!!!!!
Well, we do know one thing, at least: Eph (Corey Stoll) is alive, though he's certainly wounded. He's our hero, so he's sticking around. If "The Strain" has taught us anything, it's that peripheral or even beloved characters can bite the dust but the core Scooby gang marches on intact. So far, that is.
On the other hand, Eph's two friends -- those who were championing his bioweapon and trying to help him put a stop to Vampocalypse 2015 -- are deader than dead.
What will become of the progress Eph had seemingly made with the top dog at the National Guard and some sketchy Big Pharma company? Is he any closer now to thwarting the bloodsucking contagion than he was when he hopped the train to Washington?
This hour of the hit FX thriller, dubbed "Identity," leaves those questions unanswered. Instead, it throws some shock and tragedy into the mix -- Fitzwilliam!!!!!! -- while implying that the Master's grand plans are humming along nicely, thank you very much.
Quinlan, a vigilante vampire in league with the Ancients, has arrived on the scene, though, promising to give the Master a fatal beatdown. This strapping undead guy, a legendary character from the source material, takes charge and talks smack. Welcome to the party, Quinlan. It will be a joy to see what you contribute to the war effort.
There's a lot of head butting in this hour -- some might even call it showboating -- between Eldritch Palmer and Thomas Eichhorst, Quinlan and the Ancients, and Gus Elizade and Angel de la Plata.
But there's also an unexpected meeting of the minds between Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) and Zach Goodweather, with the obnoxious tween finally -- finally! -- thinking of someone other than himself.
When the kid (Max Charles) earnestly asks Nora how she's doing and gives her a much-needed and well-deserved hug, it's the first and only time this season that I haven't wanted to slap this character upside the head. How long before he returns to moody pre-pubescent mode? Quickly, I'm guessing, so savor the moment.
On to the brass tacks:
The "miraculous transformation" that's been bubbling under the surface for a few weeks comes to pass during "Identity," with the Master body-swapping with former goth shock rocker Gabriel Bolivar (Jack Kesy).
And to do so, there's puking. And capillary worms. There's basically a boatload of upchucking and filthy loam and infection transfer and putrid breath. That last one's conjecture, but come on.
The process is no less disgusting the second time around -- we saw the projectile vomiting routine in flashback earlier in the season when the Master hopped into Jusef Sardu. Understanding what was about to happen in this scene did not soften the vile blow.
Speaking of foresight, Eichhorst (Richard Sammel) seems to have misplaced his, along with his poker face. He's so visibly rattled that he isn't chosen as the Master's new "vessel" that he nearly collapses under the weight of his own disappointment. Poor, horrible old Nazi.
Does he protest? Nope. He kneels, pledges his loyalty and lets Master Bolivar call him a "special child." Dejection aside, he knows where his bread is buttered. Consider him cowed.
And now for someone not so easily bent. Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones) touched down in a private plane last episode and, despite restricted airspace, general chaos and police curfews, makes it into Manhattan in the back of a refrigerated truck. Don't read too much into the 2,000 pounds of frozen shrimp around him -- this dude is intimidatingly huge. With his sky-blue eyes and bone-sword, he means business. And he moves freely during the daytime (?).
His meeting with the Ancients goes well only for him, as he calls out the snorting, twitching bags of bones for not putting an end to the Master years ago. Never mind, he's on the case, but he needs human helpers. And he wants to know who was skilled and gutsy enough to injure the king of all vamps. How long before Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley) gets kidnapped again?
Gangbanger-turned-warrior Gus (Miguel Gomez) tries to bond with dishwasher Angel (Joaquin Cosio) but even his IMDB-esque knowledge of the retired luchador's B-movie career can't thaw the ice between them.
Gus is a punk, Angel thinks, even though the ex-con is a huge fan of the ouevre that includes "The Silver Angel vs. the Lord of Darkness." But Gus is quick on the draw during a life-threatening food delivery. He dispatches two attacking vampires with a gun and butcher knife, saving lovely restaurateur Aanya while Angel provides backup. Join forces, already, and quit carping at each other. The resistance needs you, Angel.
There’s a scene of Eichhorst and Palmer (Jonathan Hyde) in an industrial building humming with busy workers, but the purpose of all this activity isn’t yet explained. It will be important later, as readers of the bestselling trilogy from Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan know.
For now, it serves as another sticking point between the Master's top minion and his billionaire patsy, with Palmer flexing his moneyed muscles and Eichhorst practicing his tightest smile. The next phase of their evil plan, nevertheless, is cued up.
Meantime, Eph has been day drinking, sleeping with a biochemist and laying the groundwork for saving humanity, or so he thinks.
While he's in the capital, he gets his first peek into the broader fallout of the New York plague, via TV news reports. There are fistfights breaking out on the floor of Congress, and there's talk of impeaching POTUS because of his ineffectual response to the crisis, which has now spread to more than 30 major American cities.
Thanks, producer/writers, for the context, which had been sorely lacking in previous episodes.
Even though Eph signs over rights to the weapon that he and Nora concocted to "infect the infected," he may not see it mass-produced. That's because his new friend/one-night stand, an attractive Capitol Hill denizen who works for drug maker Chemerol, gets gunned down right in front of him.
They unwittingly walk into an ambush, with Eph's longtime pal, Rob Bradley, already murdered on the floor of his tony townhouse. There's a hitman from Stoneheart holding a gun and a snapshot of Eph (!). He pulls the trigger and Eph drops to the floor, grabbing his own weapon and returning fire. Down goes the assassin.
For those keeping track, that's two human murders for Eph. Desperate times. And for those who thought this trip was a fait accompli, well, where's the drama in that?
How is he going to explain that mess or, more to the point, escape from it?
Back in Brooklyn, Nora and Zach are heading to Scooby HQ after sundown when Kelly and the Feelers pick up their scent. Those lightning-fast little spider kids swarm the taxi, forcing Nora and Zach into a nearby church. It's no sanctuary, though, and Nora calls for reinforcements as Feelers scurry up stained glass and catapult over pews.
She holds them off until the cavalry arrives, with Setrakian, Vasiliy Fet (
Just when he'd found his people. Just when he'd decided to redeem himself and spill info on Palmer's real estate buying spree and delusions of grandeur. Just when he would've made such a good member of the Scooby crew. Fitzwilliam!!!!