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

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Eventually, he’s able to climb out of the well and dash home – but Miriam has already been taken and turned by the Master. When she returns, eyes red and hungry, accompanied by two transformed children, it’s an unspeakably cruel moment for Setrakian, and a warped mirror image of the bright future that he had been outlining with Miriam earlier in the episode. The pure evil of the Master is never clearer than in this episode, where he destroys everything Setrakian holds dear as if playing a game.

The flashback sequences really work in this episode, thanks to smart writing and Peter Weller’s capable direction, and now that we’ve seen Setrakian’s horrific past fully fleshed out, “Last Rites” may mark The Strain‘s last use of them. And that’s just fine, given how increasingly compelling the modern-day storylines are becoming.

The present part of “Last Rites” opens with the same pressure on the group that we’ve seen for the past few weeks. With the Master spreading the virus throughout New York City and beyond, time is running out for the group to take any action against him. What’s the grand plan? What can stand in the way of that endlessly powerful ancient bloodsucker? Though Setrakian has been hunting the creature for decades, he’s as clueless as the rest of them. So when Dutch returns with the idea to use the emergency broadcast system to let Eph send a message to every television in the United States, it may not be a master stroke but at least it’s something.

Thanks to Dutch’s hacking expertise, the broadcast goes off without a hitch. Whether it will mean anything in the long run is less certain. With the Internet down and a veil of secrecy cast over the epidemic, the word of one CDC doctor wanted for murder probably isn’t going to land with as much game-changing force as the group might hope. Still, all they’ve got is their faith right now – heading into next week’s finale, what the group will do next to try to take down the Master remains completely unclear.