‘The Strain’ recap: Sniper (mis)fire in ‘The Assassin’

Dutch Velders (Ruta Gedmintas) and Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) set up their sniper attack in "The Assassin" episode of "The Strain."

Dutch Velders (Ruta Gedmintas) and Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) set up their sniper attack in “The Assassin” episode of “The Strain.”

(Michael Gibson / FX)

Say, wait a minute, is Coco Marchand a vampire now?

Definitely not, fans of “The Strain.” She’s not immortal, though she might qualify as some kind of medical miracle. She’s not a superhero either, but she may have a much stronger constitution going forward.

The real question is: Will she stay with blubbering, sad old Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde), or will she defect to the Good Guys and take up their cause to save the world from the strigoi invasion?

Could go either way.


Coco (Lizzie Brochere) looks pretty darn freaked out after her lifesaving visit from the Master (Robin Atkin Downes) and Palmer’s confession that he’s working hand-in-hand with the Dark Forces of Evil. She could decide that this is all so very wrong and she should’ve listened to her gut long ago.

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Would that make her the new Fitzwilliam (Roger R. Cross)? My knee-jerk reaction: Poor substitute! I’m still really hacked off that he’s gone. Fitzwilliam!!!!!

Or might Coco take a shine to her new-and-improved power couple status and lord it over the miserable masses? She lives in a crappy third-floor walk-up, for crying out loud. Time to upgrade?

I’m getting ahead of myself, but I have my own confession to make here. I thought this was by far the most interesting turn of events in the entire episode, dubbed “The Assassin.”

It may as well have been called “The Would-Be Assassin” or “The Inept Assassin,” because Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) still hasn’t learned how to use that sniper’s rifle. Have another drink, Eph, it might help your aim.

So unless you’re intrigued by hearing Dutch wax eloquently about the sex lives of bonobos or watching Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley) shuffle through stacks of dusty old books, the Coco story may be your best bet.

There is a good cliffhanger ending, though, which could lead to a battle royal between the Scoobies and Thomas Eichhorst (Richard Sammel), and there’s a slimy-fantastic and fairly terrifying scene of vampires trying to sting Eph through the bars of a jail cell. (It looks like strigoi target practice.)


Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) and Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand) notch some great vampire beheadings, and not at all — not once — do we have to listen to surly little Zach or see his pouty little face. Put those in the plus column.

Short but significant aside: Can we please have a moment of silence for those snazzy opening credits that ran exactly one time? (That would be in front of last week’s episode, “The Battle for Red Hook.”) The comic book-flavored intro came from French artist Remy Gente, who presciently posted the 71-second video to his Vimeo channel.

It’s a fantastic bit of promotion, and it really captures the spirit of the series and the bestselling trilogy from Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan on which it’s based.

I’m just glad it has a digital life, where superfans like me can watch and rewatch, but it’s a missed opportunity not to use it for the TV show. It could’ve been the perfect permanent calling card.


End of aside and beginning of the nitty gritty of “The Assassin,” which sees tough-talking city councilwoman Justine Feraldo (Samantha Mathis) trying to tax the rich — scandalous! — Eph landing in the slammer and Setrakian finding and seemingly losing (!) the Occido Lumen.

That damn book better be worth all the trouble it’s causing because it’s certainly not worth all the airtime it’s getting. What a waste of the distinguished actor David Bradley, who’s been incredible in the show so far but is now relegated to his one-note tunnel vision and his antiquated private-eye work. Why has no one taught him how to use Google? It’s just cruel.

Remember when Eph was a man of science, a man of healing? Yeah, well, that’s over now. He’s strapped and ready to commit another homicide. In fact, is anyone keeping track of his human body count? He has his sights set, literally, on Palmer because …

Because why? Because he thinks this is the solution to Vampocalypse 2015? Or because he’s coming completely unhinged? Guesses? Anybody?


What about that biological weapon that he and Nora slaved over? He lost the sample in Washington — to the hitman or another Stoneheart minion — and he hasn’t even broached the idea of re-creating it. That “infect the infected” plan has been tossed, apparently, and replaced with a rooftop murder plot.

How is that an even trade?

At any rate, Dutch Velders (Ruta Gedmintas) is down for being the high-tech wingman on this operation to take out the Master’s human envoy. Eph thinks she’s come along just to escape her love-triangle drama back at home, and he may be right.

They do some surveillance on Stoneheart, easily find out where Palmer will make an afternoon public appearance and rush to get in place for the kill. Except that Eph is not a marksman by any stretch, and he ends up shooting Coco instead of Palmer.


This development serves mostly to demonize Eph and to humanize Palmer. So, boo! And Eph and Dutch can’t even get away with their near-murder, landing quickly in the slammer at the hands of some questionable cops.

Palmer is so broken up about Coco’s life-threatening injury that he summons the Master, via a message/demand through a visibly unsympathetic Eichhorst (the always masterful Richard Sammel).

Eichhorst sees Palmer’s plea as a trifling matter of the heart, which is never a priority for the Master. But Palmer says he’ll back out of the strigoi takeover — meaning, he’ll close that cash-flush ATM — unless the Master saves Coco.

It’s only a small surprise when the Master does just that. He drops some white goop into her mouth from his dirty talons, and she revives immediately. (He did the same for Palmer in Season 1. That’s not immortality, fans. It’s more like the undead version of a vitamin B shot.)


The Master is notoriously stingy with Palmer, and this is no exception. He’s stringing his erstwhile partner along, giving him just enough encouragement to keep the bank open.

What remains to be seen is how Coco will deal with these new revelations.

Elsewhere in the hour, Justine, riding high off her vampire beat down in Red Hook, tells a bunch of well-heeled Upper East Siders that she’ll happily bring her muscle into their ‘hood — for a price. (Don’t worry, she’ll accept gold, silver or other “approved commodities.”)

I’m with Fet here: I like this gal. She’s an interesting character, even though Mathis plays her with an awful New York accent.


Mayor Lyle (Ron Canada), on the other hand, can’t quite stomach her bleed-the-billionaires concept and lets her know he’s plenty upset about it. She scoffs. Then she threatens to take her conquering army back to Brooklyn if the Richie Riches don’t pay for their vampire eradication services, dubbed the “Safe Streets Initiative.” Hmmmm, how will this play out?

Meantime, Fet, Nora and Setrakian search the boroughs (and the White Pages?) for Rudyard Fonescu and the prized ancient text. Setrakian might’ve forgotten to mention that the Lumen “presages massacres” throughout history and “brings death and disaster to anyone who reads it.” In short, he’s buried the lead.

The three Scoobies don’t find the book, and Nora and Fet scamper off to rescue the jailed would-be killer Eph. That leaves the nonagenarian alone on the final search, where he miraculously locates the silver-covered Lumen under some apartment floorboards.

And just as he has his paws on it, finally, someone cracks him over the noggin. Night-night, professor.


At the police station, Eph has been facing the cold truth that the Stoneheart reach is everywhere. He’s also been dodging vampire stingers and losing track of Dutch.

When Nora and Fet come to his rescue, they threaten a Stoneheart-lackey cop to find out Dutch’s whereabouts. Will they be able to save her, or will she end up as Eichhorst’s lunch? Three more episodes to find out, fans.