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The Strain, Ep. 1.07, “For Services Rendered” keeps the ball rolling

The Strain, Ep. 1.07, “For Services Rendered” keeps the ball rolling

StrainS01E07

The Strain, Season 1, Episode 7, “For Services Rendered”
Written by David Weddle & Bradley Thompson
Directed by Charlotte Sieling
Airs Sundays at 10pm EST on FX

This is Richard Sammel’s episode. As the Nazi vampire Eichorst, Sammel has been excellent up until now, but “For Services Rendered” gives him ample screen time to wow us, both in the present and in flashback. He is firing on all cylinders this week, to use a frustratingly apt cliché, to the point where it seemed certain they were going to kill him off after focusing so much on him. Luckily, he hitches a ride on the side of a passing train car, which is badass.

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This is an episode largely about trying to keep or gain control, as Setrakian helpfully nods towards at the start of the hour with his criticism of Eph: “Logic is not the issue here. It’s your desire to always be in control.” Which is easy for him to say when he’s in control. In general, though, this episode has our protagonists just trying to keep control over the growing chaos, including Gus trying to take care of Felix in jail and the mysterious vampiric figure at the end ostensibly trying to clean up his brethren. With that hacking job completed, there’s no contacting anyone, so life in New York City goes on while the threat grows. Damn hackers!

About those flashbacks. Perhaps this episode’s greatest feat is building off of the questionable concentration camp flashbacks of “Runaways” with some genuinely tense and entertaining scenes — though again, this is solely thanks to Eichorst. The scene of him confronting young Setrakian while drunk is particularly compelling, because everything he says is so uncomfortable (like how elsewhere this episode he posits that it’s disappointing that slavery is no longer a common practice, or every time he says “The Jew”) and he remains a rather unpredictable entity. His words drip off his tongue like toxic waste, as he plays the villain you love to hate better than most. The flashbacks this week also establish that Setrakian built The Master’s coffin, meaning he is (unwittingly) somewhat to blame, and thus his personal drive in the matter is upped even further.

To be fair, Setrakian was wrong about logic not being the issue here, because his “new plan”, teased at the end of last week’s episode, is to lure Eichorst to Grand Central Station so that the team can follow him from there to find The Master. There are so many flaws in this plan, Jesus Christ. I get that Eichorst can’t attack in such a public place, and that it’s a location that shows just how chaotic New York City is without a vampire menace to add to the mix. But what an awful place to hope to follow someone without losing them. Not to mention the fact that of course Eichorst would know it’s a trap and would outmaneuver them. It’s such a flimsy plan, yet I still hold Setrakian as the show’s true hero since Eph is still boring and frustrating (though he gets off the best line of the episode: “For convenience sake and strictly as a semantic term, we’ll refer to him as The Master”). And at the same time, at least our team are actively trying to take the fight directly to The Master, though as we are only just past the halfway point of the season and we now have a second one on the way, one must assume that they will not reach him anytime soon.

The episode also offers some good horror, especially in the opening sequence, as Joan’s husband comes home only to be attacked, first in the cab and then by Joan. Speaking of Joan, it’s a shame that she’s gone, because she becomes even more terrifying this week thanks to sickening makeup and a committed performance. But she is dead, at the hands of a new character — a vampire seemingly intent on killing his own kind. This is an exceedingly intriguing development for The Strain. Who the hell is this guy, and his merry band of silent followers? He must be an older vampire, like Eichorst, if he is able to be so articulate and restrained with his hunger compared to the current outbreak. Perhaps they know each other? Regardless, he is an exciting addition to the show, and they’re finally getting good at leaving us wanting more.

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