The Strain: Dead End
September 21, 2015 10:22 PM - Season 2, Episode 11 - Subscribe

Gus helps the Guptas get across the border; Fet, Nora and Eph look all over the city for Dutch, who's in a life-or-death struggle with Eichhorst; Setrakian meets a familiar face while searching for the Occido Lumen. More backstory on Eichhorst.

The flashback scenes did not impress Tim Surette at
"So what did this all say about Eichorst? That he's not really as bad as he seemed? That even though he was a Nazi, he wasn't totally on board with their cause? That he's just not cut out to sell radios? Eichorst, as we knew him, was a totally remorseless Nazi vampire menace and these flashbacks attempted to show off another side and maybe even siphon out some compassion from us. But why? Eichorst worked best as a one-note lieutenant shrouded in mystery who should be feared, not a guy who couldn't get laid because of poorly timed bigotry. These flashbacks demystified him and made him vulnerable in our eyes, not to mention told us nothing about the background of the vampires or the decades-long battle with Setrakian. Can we unsee these flashbacks and pretend we never saw them?"
Ken Fowle (AV Club) thought the Eichorst backstory was well-executed: "What works about this storyline is that it never really tries too hard to make Eichorst a sympathetic character." And writes of the sexualized violence against 'Dutch':
"Considering the fact that rape and the violation of the body is already present in the subtext of vampire fiction–the stinger growing and then penetrating the body is a pretty obvious (and often potent) bit of imagery–it’s hard not to read the explicit threat of sexual violence towards Dutch as anything but exploitative. It’s a narrative decision that taints an episode that otherwise smartly embraces and amplifies the show’s inherent horror elements."
One last Fowle quote: "'Yes, I will eat the pineapple.' Ugh, this show."
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Critics continue to slam The Strain but I thought this episode was hugely enjoyable and well-constructed - even allowing for the unnecessary tentacle almost-rape of Dutch (and I was so proud of her for using that pepper spray at the best possible moment) and white-knighting of Fet (which was, afterall, kind of touching while also being kind of a 'hey ladies you need men!')

Stray observations:

- love the flashbacks, esp. with Eichorst here. I dont think the writers were asking us to sympathise with him, I think they were showing us his 'origin' story, while not excusing him for his decisions.

- When Eichorst got in Dutch's face and yelled "now!" I think they did something to the audio because it sounded doubled or even tripled; and was, dramatically, very effective.

- The near tentacle rape had me going "noooo!" and squirming on my sofa - this is pretty nasty stuff and I was surprised FX went there (or was allowed to go there).

- Really liked the little "soliloquy" the Lumen-bearer gave Setrakian: 'people always talk to me like that - like you're talking to me'. Nice bit of writing there.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:30 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I usually rewatch the previous week's ep before the new one on Sunday nights.

I will NOT be doing that this coming Sunday, sorry. Watching the subjugation of Dutch was stomach-churning enough the first time, and it really drove home that when the shit goes down, we become pets if we're lucky, dinner if we're unlucky... and rapemeat if we're especially attractive or pose a threat.

It's not like I needed a visual reminder that the Nazis were capable of extreme violence against women to enhance Eichorst, Palmer, Rudyard Fonescu (ooof, had to look that one up!) and Setrakian's overlapping backstories. Maybe this is a power play to force the audience to accept Dutch as a permanent member of the Scooby gang despite her early mercenary work for Palmer?

If so, it was highly unnecessary. I'm even more grossed out by Fet hero-carrying her out of danger, because a convenient "plot nail" literally hobbled Dutch and kept her from walking out of her own volition on two uninjured feet. (Seriously, fuck you writers for physically forcing her to be carried by a man to safety -- considering Dutch's characterizations regarding her on/off relationship with Nikki and the sheer height of actress Ruta Gedmintas, this scene smacks of bisexual bigotry to me, though obviously it'll get tagged as a different trope, e.g., White Knighting, which it definitely is as well.)

And I mean, I LOVE VASILY FET. To resurrect last year's most annoying meme: Fet is bae. Don't make me get annoyed with him, show! He's my Constant in this meandering mess, lol.

The MOST important bit of info in the actual show this week: Alonso Creem now holds the Lumen. Now, if Setrakian can just hold his shit together long enough to reconnect with Creem...

How do I know it's the most important point? The next episode's title.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:58 AM on September 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

a convenient "plot nail"

Yes, that was a cheap and nasty device to further incapacitate her -- and to undermine her competency immediately after her initiative in escaping the feeding cell. (And where did the Nail of Convenient Terror come from anyway? It doesn't appear to have been a trap set by Eichorst, because they both roam those hallways without ever encountering another one.)

I'm with Tim Surette: "I prefer my Eichorst asexual." Lascivious rapey Eichorst seems out of character with what we've seen so far, which has always been cold impersonal Eichorst, smug and aloof.

I did quite like the flashbacks though. I don't think they humanized Eichorst; more that they showed that he's always been a monster wearing a human mask, and that he's always been drawn to the power of evil.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:28 PM on September 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

Also noticeable: this is another mostly-sidelined episode for Eph, and I think this has been one of the big course corrections the show has made between S1 and S2.

Eph was very much the lead character in S1 but wasn't really interesting or likable enough to make it work; and I think also Corey Stoll struggled with it a bit. S2 has been much more an ensemble piece and has been better at foregrounding other characters rather than being All About Eph's Experience.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:33 PM on September 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

I thought the flashback was all right, but not really necessary. I had no sense we were supposed to sympathize with Eichorst: he doesn't come across as a good guy in it at all, but as a horrible opportunist who was willing to sell out anyone and everyone in order to feel powerful. It's consistent with every other action we've seen him take. That said, I didn't really see the point because we didn't learn anything new - we already saw him get willingly turned by the Master last season, no coercion. We also knew he was weak or flawed in some fashion because the Master picked not!Marilyn Manson for his new host vessel, instead of Eichorst.

The whole thing was a waste of screen time that could've been better spent trying to make the Gus subplot tie in at all, or something.

The rape scenario was completely gross, even over and above the usual:
* IIRC, no vampire on the show has ever demonstrated the slightest interest in sex, making this whole thing a huge stretch. Even worse, Eichorst has never demonstrated any particular interest in Dutch before. Based on all prior episodes, it seems like the only person he'd bother to go to extra lengths to humiliate is Setrakian, or possibly anyone Setrakian showed romantic interest in. It was a clear stretch just for shock value, which... no just no.

* Dutch didn't shut the door after her escape. Unlike many horror movie scenarios, it made sense for her to run rather than try and finish off Eichorst, (she saw how ridiculously fast he was in prior encounters, IIRC, and likely knew she couldn't possibly take him alone), but she could have taken one moment to lock him in her cell while she made a more secure escape. The second she did not, I knew the scene would be a tired rehash of every slasher movie ever. At best.

* He walled himself in? WTF? When was there time? Who even does that?

* The nail in the foot and the subsequent White Knight crap. (I love Fet too - he's about the only character on that show that I am actually rooting for at this point, so that was a huge disservice all around.)

One unrelated thought: the longer they keep Setrakian from having a real win, any real win, the less he seems like Van Helsing and the more he edges into Grandpa Simpson territory.

Also noticeable: this is another mostly-sidelined episode for Eph, and I think this has been one of the big course corrections the show has made between S1 and S2.

Yep. From S1 E1, they have gone out of their way to make Eph come across as an unsympathetic jackass. Reducing his screen time has been good. (Killing Zack off would be better.)
posted by mordax at 12:29 PM on September 23, 2015

It puts the pineapple in its mouth or else it gets the hose again...

Like everyone else, I'm really unhappy with the subjugation of Dutch. I expect that kind of exploitation from American Horror Story, but I thought, despite its numerous other flaws, this show was at least better than that. I feel the context—a badass, independent, bisexual woman is being forced to choose between a lesbian or heteronormative relationship—gave the already-unsavoury elements of this episode (the torture-porn lady-screaming, the threat of horrific sexual assault, the Nail of Female Vulnerability and the Big Male Arms of Rescue) a strangely ideological flavour, a reinforcement of traditional gender roles.

> He walled himself in? WTF? When was there time? Who even does that?

I assume Eichorst's been living there for quite a while, having acquired the whole hotel wing and customised it to his needs.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 5:03 PM on September 27, 2015

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