The Strain 1.09: “The Disappeared”

After the fraught stand-off of last week’s episode, “The Disappeared” gives us a little breathing space—after the opening scene, that is, when little Zach arrives home to find his mom’s boyfriend has become unusually violent. To give Zach some credit, he’s definitely cut of the same cloth as Carl from The Walking Dead: when attacked by a blood-covered Matt, the kid rushes for cover and picks up a shovel to defend himself.

And luckily he doesn’t have to stave off the threat alone for long. Dad Eph rushes in, makes with a quick stab, and deftly chops the asshole’s head off with said shovel. The rest of the group hurries in and while Eph and Nora comfort Zach, Abraham and Vasiliy do a quick search of the house.

No Kelly. And Matt had some nasty cuts across his face before Eph detached it from his shoulders. Draw a line between the dots and the obvious conclusion is that Kelly will show up again at some point to reclaim her son—but only because she’s compelled more by the Master than her maternal instincts.

Meanwhile, Felix’s condition is worsening. Gus keeps demanding a doctor, but the city’s starting to tear itself apart and medical personnel are at a premium. The detention officer tells Gus there will be someone to check out his friend at Rikers, so he hurries to get Felix onto the transport truck, assuring his buddy that he’s there for him.

Yeah, he’ll be there for him—when Felix is no longer his BFF but a creature of the night.

Nora’s still upset about how things went down with Jim; and she has a right to mourn her friend and wish there had been some other way. But as Vasiliy and Abraham steadfastly believe, they no longer have the luxury of mercy or compassion when it comes to the infected. After everything that’s happened, Nora and Eph need to take those lessons more to heart.

(And I can’t be the only one picking up the angry sparks between Nora and Vasiliy. I’ve seen enough stories where hate-at-first-sight leads to something entirely different—when people are that passionate, something’s bound to come of it later.)

Eph sends Zach off with Abraham—a quick chuckle at the “I’m trusting you. I’m putting my trust in you.” | “Yes, I heard you. My hearing is excellent.” exchange—while he and Nora stay behind to deal with Matt’s body. I know the city’s still at a point where someone finding a dead body could spell bad news, but I’m also thinking we’re getting past the point of caring about that sort of thing. It’s not as if the police force or FBI is going to be all that relevant soon.

Dutch arrives home to find that her girlfriend has made off with her entire savings and vital laptop. Which sucks, yeah, but let’s be real here: Dutch had just told her that she was responsible for the information blackout, and then they’d been attacked by rampaging monsters. In a situation like that, a girl has to be opportunistic. Can’t say as I blame her.

While Vasiliy and Dutch are upstairs, Abraham reassures Zach. Matt only attacked him because he was sick, like a rabid dog, the old man explains. He can’t be blamed for his actions. It’s alright to mourn—but then he has to move on.

Something Dutch needs to do, when an infected friend walks through the door and attacks. Good thing Vasiliy’s got quick reflexes and keeps it together. Looks like the hacker’s going to stay on with our intrepid band of heroes for a while longer.

When the group returns to the pawn shop, they’re confronted by Nora’s angry mother. “I’m not cooking for them!” she shouts, stubbing out a cigarette and leaving in a huff. With Vasiliy and Dutch standing there with arms full of liberated bread, I can’t help but snicker at the ridiculousness. What a silly little moment of brevity.

“My God, it’s like the Batcave,” Dutch says once they get a look at Abraham’s super secret base of operations. While Zach sits down with one of Abraham’s books—it’s awfully sweet seeing Setrakian play the doting grandfather—Vasiliy and the old man get down to brass tacks.

“I need your help. You’re unsentimental. Precise. You’re not ruled by your emotions,” Abraham tells the exterminator, meaning it as a sincere compliment.

Speaking of emotions: while Eph and Nora are disposing of the erstwhile boyfriend, Nora again brings up her turbulent childhood in Argentina. This is all starting to feel too familiar to her—people haggling over supplies, people disappearing in the night… Methinks once Nora comes to terms with everything, she’ll be better equipped by past experiences.

And while they cremate Matt in the backyard (nice touch, using a newspaper with Gabe Bolivar’s face on the cover to start the fire) they use the opportunity to say some words about dearly departed Jim in “the weirdest memorial ever”.

Back at the Batcave, Dutch is coming clean to Abraham regarding her involvement with the current shitstorm. Not gonna lie—I half expected Abraham to hit her over the head with that saucepan.

“Can you undo what you’ve done?” the old man asks.

“Isn’t it too late for that?”

“We never concede that,” he counters, which segues nicely into a flashback to Nazi Poland, where young Abraham first faced off against the Master, armed with only a silver steak knife. It was a brave attempt, but the Master was more than capable of incapacitating poor Abe; after making quick work of the woodcarver’s hands, off the creature scuttled.

Few things are more nausea-inducing than seeing fingers bent in ways they shouldn’t be. Ouch.

Back in the present, the ride to Rikers is interrupted when Felix—now fully transformed—tries to attack Gus. This proves he really loved his friend; but that’s no consolation when he successfully bites the van’s driver, forcing the vehicle to crash into the concrete divider.

The immolation taken care of, Eph and Nora indulge in some physical pleasure to make up for the night’s pain and terror. With the world going to hell in a beautifully carved box and death lurking around every corner, why the hell not enjoy themselves while they have the chance? Hey: everyone works through grief in their own ways.

When the second guard climbs into the back of the van to investigate just what the hell is going on, Felix makes quick work of him. Gus snatches the opportunity and unlocks his cuffs before grabbing the officer’s gun. Pained by what he has to do but knowing it has to be done, Gus puts down his old friend before fleeing into the night.

Another flashback to Poland shows just how miraculous Abraham’s luck was. On the verge of being gunned down by an execution squad and pushed into a mass grave he himself had helped dig, Allied forces arrive and pin down the Nazis. With the help of compassionate fellow inmates, he’s hefted over a barbed wire fence despite his crippled hands and runs off into the snowy woods.

Pretty sure a religious man would take that as a sign that God had something more in store for him.

Eph and Nora’s interlude is interrupted by Kelly’s friend, Diane, who clearly doesn’t take their warnings to heart. And she also clearly doesn’t believe Eph’s assertion that he would never hurt Kelly. “I love my wife. She’s the mother of my child,” he says, and Nora again has a distant look on her face. Perhaps the apocalypse is making her start to reconsider their relationship…

Herr Eichorst finally returns to his refined lair after the subway encounter—and we finally get to see just how a Nazi became a complete monster. On the run, drunk and despairing, he laments to the new Master he thinks has forsaken him. Only to find that his devotion is about to be rewarded. And as the Master painfully converts his new disciple, we get our first real look at the evil behind everything. Putting to rest any lingering questions about the ‘beauty’ of immortality…

Coming up: just where is Kelly—and in what state? Is Dutch going to try and redeem herself for the part she played in this whole mess? What’s Gus going to do now that he’s technically on the lam? And, the most pressing question in my book, when are Vasiliy and Abraham going to get to work finding the Master?

Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later—before anyone else we like disappears.

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 under the handle “zombres.”

Read all posts by Angie Barry at Criminal Element.


  1. Brett

    I believe that last scene with Eichorst took place back in the 1940’s. He was being chased through the woods in the snow – that was not New York, was it?

Comments are closed.

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.