The Strain, Season 2, Episode 10, “The Assassin”
Written by Liz Phang
Directed by Phil Abraham
Airs Sundays at 10pm EST on FX
“The Assassin” is an episode whose (practically) every moment is packed action, drama, and even melodrama. With the season drawing to a close in just a few episodes, it’s no wonder why. Now is the time to bring season-long arcs to a close. At least one has been resolved so far—finally, Abraham holds the book that will (allegedly) tell him the key to vanquishing The Master. Even as he, Fet, and Nora explore the bibliophile’s dream of a used book store, the episode keeps the action going with strigoi attacks; although at this point, all three are so not phased by their lives being threatened that there’s little excitement behind watching them kill off monsters.
What is interesting is that Abraham is once again prioritizing his vendetta for The Master over the lives of his companions. Fet and Nora are quick to drop their current mission to run to the aid of Eph and Dutch the moment they realize that their teammates are being held under arrest. Abraham verbalizes that finding the Lumen is more important, which, yes, the book that can teach anyone to kill the biggest threat to humanity may be important, but it also illustrates that he has learned nothing from his past mistakes. There’s no better moment to reflect on how Miriam (his wife) was turned while Abraham chased after a dead lead than the moment he holds the Lumen in his hands as Nora and Fet go to help their friends. He has decades of experience on his teammates, yet he has not grown beyond the flaw that makes his loved ones pay with their lives.
Where things are right now, it looks like there really is a love story between Coco and Palmer rather than my yearning for the assistant to be more than a device to humanize Palmer (The opposite is somewhat happening. More on that below). She takes a bullet intended for him, a tragedy that could be spotted miles away the second Palmer convinces her to give their relationship another chance. His impassioned speech at her stoop has no acknowledgement of what about her made him fall in love, only that she is important because he loves her and she loves him.
Now, back to Coco’s original suspected purpose being to humanize Palmer, and the ways his actions do the opposite of that. With Coco on her deathbed, Palmer, like any decent loved one, wants nothing more than to give her the best fighting chance at life. He (incorrectly) assumes that his supposed alliance with The Master has him on equal enough footing to save his love’s life by having her turned into a strigoi. He makes this decision alone, while Coco is unalert and therefore unable to give the most important piece of any medical decision: consent. To take analysis a step further, Palmer’s vigilance in concealing his relationship with The Master makes it so that there has never been a moment in their relationship where they could have had the important discussion of, “Honey, if I’m ever on my deathbed, I want you to have me turned into an undead monster.” He is in no position to make advanced directive decisions and it’s that disregard for Coco’s (in)ability to make a decision about her life that brings him closer to the immortal monster that he wants to become. But happily, The Master sees Palmer only as an easily manipulated human bank account.
Feraldo meanwhile is doing right by the people she’s been put in charge of protecting, although now, the audience should fear for her safety since she’s getting between the wealthy and their money with her proposed 1% tax. The mayor may run into issues seeking assistance from the now grief-stricken Palmer, but certainly, The Master will have her on his radar sometime in the next few episodes, seeing how successful last week’s episode’s Red Hook battle against the strigoi was.
Lest We Forget…
- Just how far-removed from conflict are Manhattan’s wealthiest residents that they oppose a tax to fund the “war efforts”? Has The Master deliberately been avoiding the rich sectors knowing that Palmer can convince them to use their money to his own benefit?
- Eph and Dutch have a very interesting discussion about human sexuality but is using the word “polyamorous” really too much to ask when Dutch accurately describes her feelings as such? Then again, before this reveal, there was an avoidance of “bisexual,” as if at any given point, Dutch could only be attracted to men or women, but never both.
- Where is Gus? It’d be nice to get an update soon on his super-special training.
- Oh my god, the way the episode leaves off with Eichorst’s delight at Dutch’s impending torture is legitimately terrifying.