The total solar eclipse, heavily promoted in The Strain’s advertising, comes to pass in “Occultation,” and with it arrives a heightened sense of impending doom in the series’ New York City. Rats are running through the streets, the strigoi have been busily infecting all in their paths, and government agencies aren’t acknowledging that anything is amiss. “This could be the end of the world,” one radio announcer jokes in the opening minutes.
He’s snarking, of course (The Strain isn’t that cheesy quite yet), but director Peter Weller does a terrific job of building tension throughout the episode, imbuing a barely perceptible sense of menace that grows increasingly pronounced as the eclipse, and subsequent bloodletting, begins. “Occultation” is also helped by its script, which noticeably hastens the pace.
After fleeing the FBI last week to avoid answering questions about Captain Redfern’s death, Eph finds himself a hunted man. The epidemic he so valiantly tried and failed to contain has spread to the streets, and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it now – and to make matters worse, no one else is even trying. The agencies that should be attempting to contain the strain aren’t seeing the big picture, and all they have set out to do is capture Eph.
“Occultation” doesn’t pretend that Eph is particularly good at going on the run, however. When he stops by to tell Kelly and Zach to get out of town, Eph is promptly picked up by FBI agents, whom Kelly’s boyfriend Matt took the liberty of tipping off. Kudos to the stones on that guy, by the way – first, he converts Eph’s office into a gaming room, then he turns him into the feds? Talk about burning bridges.
Luckily, Eph is able to convince the agents to take him on a drive so that he can show them where the missing bodies of the dead plane passengers have been stashed (something about which he actually has no idea, but they don’t know that). When a strigoi attacks a woman in her car right ahead of them, both agents wind up on the receiving end of its stinger, and Eph is able to make a break for it.