The Strain, Season 2, Episode 7, “The Born”
Written by Chuck Hogan
Directed by Howard Deutsch
Airs Sundays at 10pm EST on FX
While musing over how the story has progressed so far in the second season, something came to light: It’s no wonder that side characters in The Strain have a habit of not living very long once they come into contact with any one of our band of heroes. Sometimes the loss is effective—the deaths of Leigh and Fitzwilliam in last week’s episode are still worth lamenting because their characters had been defined. Their deaths left the audience with the feeling that, had their characters lived, there was more that they could have contributed, so much more. The loss of Leigh was a loss of a major edge in humanity’s struggle: a mass-produced virus that would have wiped out the strigoi. Fitzwilliam’s death meant the loss of a former confidant of one of the top-tier enemies, Eldritch Palmer. He may have given away private information that leads Abraham and Fet to one of this episode’s destinations, but why kill him when he had just joined the team? The series is consistent with introducing a new character or two, give or take, in every episode. The disposing of so many characters not only elevates the awareness of humanity’s mortality in the fight to survive The Master’s onslaught, it makes room for new characters to arrive (or to return, in Nikki’s case).
This week, Coco entices Palmer into a kiss in the privacy of his bedroom. If there’s one question that must be on the mind of the viewership, it’s this: What is it that she seeks out of a personal relationship with Eldritch Palmer? Could she be a potential femme fatale, working as an agent for a yet-to-be-identified “good”? As of right now, Coco has not offered any details of her life outside of work, nor has she been asked to talk about herself—all questions have been directed at Palmer and his heart is clearly aflutter at having the attention of a much younger woman. The concealment of details of her identity does leave room for an ulterior motive, yet there is nothing at play that hints at this. It follows that her interest in Palmer warrants questioning when we know nothing about who she is, beyond her profession.
Could her purpose be to use the healing power of love to redeem (please) a lonely man who knowingly allied himself with true evil in his pursuit of a life eternal? The lack of expansion on Coco’s background could also point to her character being a device for Palmer to learn that being loved is making him happier than struggling to obtain immortality while also allowing him to retain his independence. Unfortunately for him, his hubris has him blind to the fact that The Master has no allies, only pawns and servants destined to be puppets, unless they are privileged to be granted a level of agency (which, by the way, can be revoked at any moment). Palmer is nothing more than what his money can do for world domination. His money could also be the reason for Coco’s interest. If the end of days is on the horizon, then why not exercise the power of flirtation on a lonely man in order to ride it out in the lap of luxury? Any of these reasons would be easier to stomach than Coco being a depth-less love interest to make Palmer “human” at heart again by realizing how much of himself he has lost through serving The Master.
Romantic love is not being nearly as kind to the good guys as it is to Palmer. It’s been a few episodes since the series has acknowledged any progress in Dutch’s search for her ex-girlfriend Nikki. It’s anyone’s guess as to why it’s taken Dutch so long to search the apartment they once occupied together, especially when it turns out that that is exactly where she has been hiding. Now she’s taken up residence in the team’s Red Hook base, where her and Nikki’s intimate past and Dutch’s avoidance of clearly stating that she is in a new relationship are leaving Fet feeling threatened. Consequentially, Fet assumes (not without reason) that this means an inevitable end to his relationship with Dutch. Eph makes his return and chooses to avoid Nora out of (assumed) guilt for his tryst in DC, so it’s fitting that he and Fet would share a fraternal bond (over alcoholic beverages) regarding love’s difficulties. Drama sparking from the love triangle and infidelity will likely be getting worse for team morale from this point on.