The Strain 1.06: “Occultation”

After five episodes of build-up, we’ve finally reached the “Occultation”: the day of the eclipse. And when you’ve got creatures of the night taking New York City by storm, you can bet your sweet bippy that craziness is gonna go down as soon as the moon slides into place…

But before we get to said madness, we first check in with Herr Eichhorst, who has momentarily foregone his human disguise while he nips into a sealed, padded room for an early morning snack. I honestly didn’t think Nazis could get any worse—but Eichhorst sure does delight in his monstrous nature. Sucks to be you, nameless dude chained to the wall.

As Eichhorst is chowing down, Kelly opens the door to find a pair of FBI agents on her porch looking for Eph. Boyfriend Matt has to butt in and snag a federal calling card, and of course he’s got an itchy dialing finger when Eph bursts in moments later, frantic and begging Kelly to get Zach out of the city. (Whatever happened to the whole, “Someday I’m sure we’ll be friends!” sentiment, Matt?)

So now our hero is in federal custody, just as the shit’s about to hit the fan. Great. At least it leads to a satisfying fight between Kelly and Matt, where she gets to throw her weight around with some justifiable anger. Messy human moments like this are even more enjoyable in the midst of so much supernatural chaos.

Gus is blowing off some steam at the neighborhood gym when one of Eichhorst’s lackeys arrives. I know the focus here should be on Gus’s whole “I thought I was out—but they just keep pulling me back in!” plight, but I’m mostly just taking the opportunity to enjoy some welcome beefcake shots after all of the gory horror.

Abraham, meanwhile, is still slowly but surely working his way down the passenger manifest. He arrives at the next house to find the abandoned accoutrements of a wake—and some disquieting bloody handprints on the walls of the basement.

Always a good sign.

What follows is easily one of the most tense and nerve-wracking scenes thus far: one elderly, sickly man armed only with a nail gun and sword cane against several hungry vampires. The pounding music keeps pace with Abraham’s faltering ticker and our own racing nerves. And only a quick escape up the stairs into sunlight saves the determined but struggling slayer.

Phew. Glad we get a moment to unclench our fists and catch out breath.

Jim calls Nora to fill her in on recent developments, only for his call to cut out just as some suspicious dark-suited men arrive. Luckily, Nora knows better than to let her mother open the door and quickly packs a go bag.

Down in some secret tunnels, Gus and Felix face off against Eichhorst. To give Gus his due credit, he does his best to stick to his guns, adamant in his refusal to do any more of Herr Creepster’s dirty work. But when some rapid fire punches and a gun prove of little use in the face of Eichhorst’s preternatural speed and strength, Gus and Felix have no choice but to follow orders.

Which includes meeting up with a very pissed off Samwise—too bad Jim and Gus can’t see how much they have in common and properly commiserate over how much they hate their undead boss.

Nora is starting to panic. She’s got a senile mother in tow and a ticking clock to outrun before the eclipse sets in. Lucky for her there’s still one working payphone left in NYC; armed with Abraham’s address, she sets off with a purpose.

At the Pest Control headquarters, Vasiliy is surprised to find an empty office. (What is it about incessantly ringing phones that is just so damn creepy?) When he checks the storeroom he discovers that his boss and the flirtatious secretary Loretta have developed a drastic allergy to sunlight.

Who would’ve thought that opening a set of blinds could be so poignant?

Poor Eph is hitting a brick wall with the FBI agents. Of course the dour men in black don’t believe his story—too bad Scully and Mulder aren’t on this case. Seeing that he’s about to be thrown behind bars just when he most needs space to run, Eph promises to show the feds everything: just so long as they take him with them.

Can you get Sully and Mulder, please?

While Kelly is turning to a friend for support and a glass of wine, Gus, Felix, and Jim are dumping Captain Redfern’s bag o’ body bits in the bay. I dunno: pretty sure the Environmental Protection Agency would frown at throwing contaminated corpses into major bodies of water.

Vasiliy swings by his old home to warn his parents and gets the usual response: a lecture from a disappointed father. It’s clear that things have been strained between them for years—and it’s equally obvious that Vasiliy didn’t expect his warning to be heeded—but he had to at least make an effort.

“Stay, for your mother,” his father says. “Go, for me,” Vasiliy begs. And leaves without another look back in true angsty hero fashion.

Man, all of this family stuff is really gonna hurt later.

Speaking of family: Kelly and Zach head to the backyard to watch the eclipse, where mom decides it’ll be best for everyone to stay put and strive for normalcy. Oh, sweetie. Normal isn’t a word that applies any more.

Normal now means bloodthirsty maniacs running through bumper-to-bumper traffic and pulling innocent strangers out of their cars. Eph’s stuck in the backseat while the two feds run out to stop the marauding undead medical examiner, last seen being devoured in the series premiere. As one of the agents croaks for help and slowly expires, Eph manages to unlock his cuffs and gets in one last, “Sorry, but I told you so.”

Hey, they’d still be alive if they’d only listened.

And Matt definitely should’ve listened—if he had, he wouldn’t be stuck at work when a pair of hoodie vamps attack. I know from personal experience that working retail can be hell. But this is definitely pushing the limit.

Felix and Gus are power-walking home through an alley when their paths cross with the rampaging medical examiner. Gus proves himself more than capable of handling the problem, but in the process buddy Felix gets worm-ed and the cops descend upon them en masse. “Of course, now you show up,” Gus says sardonically.

Given the current political climate, the scene of excessive police response is just a bit too relevant…

At Knickerbocker Pawn, a solemn Eph arrives ready to fight and willing to listen. And very relieved to find Nora already there. It’s a lovely little reunion moment as the pair hug, a sweet beat after the day’s danger and death. And then Abraham, in fine dramatic form, announces, “You’re both ready. Good. I have a new plan.”

Oh sweet baby Moses, am I so ready to hear this plan. Is it next Sunday yet?


Angie Barry wrote her thesis on the socio-political commentary in zombie films. Meeting George Romero is high on her bucket list, and she has spent hours putting together her zombie apocalypse survival plan. She also writes horror and fantasy in her spare time, and watches far too much Doctor Who. You can find her at Livejournal.com under the handle “zombres.”

Read all posts by Angie Barry at Criminal Element.

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