The Strain Review: “Last Rites” (Season 1, Episode 12)

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Sacrifice has been a major theme running throughout this first season of The Strain, but as the clock ticks down towards next week’s finale, a sense remains that, for everything that the characters have lost so far, it still won’t be enough. “Last Rites” sees a last-ditch effort by Eph and the group come together, with the aim of informing the general public about the strain. And though that plan appears successful, the only thing that’s clear when the dust settles is that the group remains hopelessly outmatched.

Every time they cut down a vamp, another five are there to take its place. But the same isn’t true for the group members – it’s safe to say that we’ve seen the last of poor, confused Mrs. Martinez, who was stung by turned rock star Gabriel Bolivar during the first act of a surprise assault by Eichorst on the pawn shop, which comes right on the heels of an emergency broadcast that Dutch sets up for Eph to address the world.

In some ways, the character, rendered an innocent by her creeping dementia, was always destined to die in such an unpleasant manner, giving Nora heartbreaking impetus to go all in on the fight against the strain. Still, the death being choreographed in advance doesn’t make its impact any less brutal – and that final, agonized scream by Nora as she raises a sword to decapitate her beloved mother in order to prevent her transformation is one of The Strain‘s most affecting moments.

It’s not the only tragic moment this week, either. Much of “Last Rites” is set in 1967 Albania, where Setrakian continues to hunt the Master and Eichorst with wife Miriam by his side. We already know that the jarred heart in the old man’s HQ belongs to her and consequently that this flashback story will not have a happy ending, but the details are still heart-wrenching. When Setrakian gets a tip that his prey is hiding out in some Albanian castle, he leaves Miriam and descends into a well to find a subterranean entrance, only to realize that he’s been duped.