The Strain, Season 2, Episode 12, “Fallen Light”
Written by Bradley Thompson and David Weddle
Directed by Vincenzo Natali
Airs Sundays at 10pm (ET) on FX
The season finale can’t come soon enough; interpret this as a very positive statement. Several episodes this season have fallen flat as a result of not making the most of their time slot. Like soap operas but with a wider range of genre, most serialized dramas now feature a large cast of characters, each of whom has drama of their own in addition to the main storyline. The best episodes of The Strain show the audience moments that mean something to the progression of each arc. A recent example of a scene on the opposite side of the spectrum is the camera forcing the viewer to linger in Palmer’s bedroom as he and Coco get intimate, aiming solely for titillation. “Fallen Light” exceeds expectations by having none of these moments. Even the episode’s racy moment has a purpose.
Zach gets the chance to live with his grandparents—which could be very “meh”, given this season’s disappointments—an arc that manages to be engaging throughout the entire episode because of how it intersects with drama from other storylines. In order to leave the city, Zach needs a permit, so Eph and Nora decide to call in a favor from Feraldo, who’s simultaneously gaining momentum while speeding towards the (metaphorical) brick wall that is the mayor’s murder. Eph, Nora, and Zach make the decision for Zach to live safely outside of the city as a family, stirring up one issue that has, up until this episode, been left untouched: Eph’s tryst with Leigh Thomas while in DC.
The story of how Eph and Nora eventually got together is shown in snippets, an accompaniment leading up to Eph’s apology for the hurt he’s caused. This really allows the audience to understand the passionate and loving relationship underneath all of their issues. It is sweet to see how their attraction is so strongly steeped in their admiration for each other’s scientific intellect, and how their first meeting, a clashing of opposite ideas from two headstrong individuals, is something that plays out in other aspects of their relationship. The moment after their very first meeting, however, where Eph and his now-deceased colleague Jim Kent stumble awkwardly around the subject of Nora’s attractiveness like schoolboys, is fairly cliche. Or is that really how true love is?
The love triangle between Dutch, Fet, and Nikki has been full of its own drama, as Dutch see-saws between both partners. Dutch decides to go to with her heart and end things with Fet to try and repair her relationship with Nikki. It’s a definitively Dutch decision, as it’s been established from the first season that unstable relationships are her specialty. The trauma her capture by Eichorst has left her with allows the actor to give a stellar performance, with heart-wrenching emotions. There is still, however, silence on the subject her sexuality, through one of her previous conversations with Fet can be interpreted to imply polyamory. Without a definitive statement from Dutch herself, it can’t really be stated how she identifies.
If there’s any character whose arc has struggled with maintaining its momentum this season, it’s Gus. It’s not that his storyline has run into several roadblocks, it’s run into one, his romance with Aanya. The problem with their relationship comes from the inability to pinpoint what attracted the two characters to each other. With characters like Dutch and Fet, it’s clear: Dutch is attracted to destructive situations and Fet, with his explosives, is a literal representation of destruction. But Gus and Aanya? There was not a moment during their time with each other that illustrated how well they clicked, so that when they finally part ways, there’s no real reason to feel sad for them. Gus and Aanya’s relationship seems to have existed just to allow Gus to find a battle partner in Angel, by allowing him to see that his preconceived ideas of Gus were wrong. Gus has stood out as a character who’s grown tired of always being under the control of authority. Although Quinlan passes down orders from The Ancients, the power and responsibility that he gains from training is an attractive offer to someone whose marginalized position in society has had him at the mercy of those who wield their bigotry as power.
Lest We Forget…
- The prison scenery looks like it’s straight out of a survival horror. Sometimes The Strain tends to come across as campy, so it’s great to see moments that truly call upon the horror genre.
- Eichorst is attempting to extort Palmer into buying the Lumen, but is his love for Coco slowly turning him back into a human being with empathy? His backing of Councilwoman Feraldo may actually be honest.
- Who else is excited to see Gus vs. Abe? ‘Cause I’m so ready for that.