Fans of the FX show The Strain are used to scenes riddled with intensity, suspense and unparalleled gore, but the episode “Dead End”, which aired September 20, raised the bar in many ways. With bated breath, fans watched as a sadistic Eichorst tortured Dutch while a desperate Fet, Eph and Nora tried to save her. Recently, actress Ruta Gedmintas, who plays Dutch, and actor Richard Sammel, who plays Eichorst, took some time to chat with a round table of reporters about those dark scenes between Dutch and Eichorst, the characters’ complicated relationships and what fans can expect from the season finale.
When asked to explain what it was like to film their scenes together, both Gedmintas and Sammel agreed that while it was difficult at times, it was also very thrilling. Gedmintas explained that “it was torture, but it was really fun. It was really nice to work with Richard. He’s a brilliant actor. To film these quiet, intense, dark scenes and be friends too, I think it brought us closer together.” Sammel expanded on this idea by stating that “doing those scenes, you are able to do them in a professional way where you bond. The confidence was building up little by little and was mixed with fun to get rid of the dark side. We had sessions of drinking beer or cocktails or ice cream. Sometimes I needed an hour of a hot shower to bring me back to a human place.” According to both Gedmintas and Sammel, filming these dark scenes actually made them closer, with the two sharing laughs and hugs between takes to take the edge off of things. “It was a good faith environment,” Gedmintas assured fans. “And afterwards, we’d have a good hug.”
While things remained jovial between the two off camera, however, it was clear to anyone watching the episode that Dutch was in a serious predicament.Part of the reason that these scenes worked so well was because the two actors prepared for them. On what this preparation process was like, Gedmintas responded: “I had to have stunt molds made of my back so that Richard could drag me up the stairs. There’s a scene where he was pulling me along the floor. I remember when I had the mold of my back, and I remember getting the plaster, and when we tested the plaster I had to come out of that. I was walking like a hunchback, and they put me on the floor and pulled me up the stairs, and I was hysterically laughing because of how fun it was. It was quite strenuous on me, and on my skin. The chain around my neck, and just pulling the chain constantly to not choke me gave me huge blisters on my hands so we had to develop these see-through gloves. It was 16 hours chained up to a wall and it was quite difficult.”
Meanwhile, Sammel elaborated on the intense make-up preparations required for his role in not only those scenes, but in every episode of the show: “I remember in the very beginning I was asking myself all the work I have to do, how will I be able to do this on my own? I moved into the trailers with the makeup and special effects and I was surprised that it was already done. A month ahead, they’re already working on your nose, mouth, whatever you need for your scenes. It’s quite impressive the preparation they’ve done. So, you just have to jump into the pool and swim. There is a pool, a sun, and towels.”
So, what affect will Dutch’s torture at the hands of Eichorst have on her in the long run? Gedmintas said, “It’s definitely a huge trauma. It would be for anyone. I think that slowly as this season continues and into the next she will have to deal with that experience. It tests her on many levels, on a very dark emotional scrutiny. Her whole being was totally under scrutiny and made her question herself and who she is in this life. Before she even gets to answer those questions, she has to get over the initial terror that happened that at any moment they can get snatched and tortured. It’s a trauma that she’s definitely going to have to deal with.”
When asked whether Dutch will blame Eph for what happened to her, Gedmintas answered, “Slowly Dutch and Eph will understand each other. Initially Eph was very condescending towards Dutch. Dutch doesn’t take kindly to any kind of criticism. Really hating the person you like. Dutch really wants Eph to say “Well done”. Dutch had her fair share of bad plans. I don’t think she blames Eph, she blames Eichorst.”
By the end of the episode, fans breathed a sigh of relief when Fet, Eph and Nora saved Dutch from Eichorst’s clutches, but what would Eichorst have done to her if she hadn’t been saved? Sammel speculated that “whether he would kill her or turn her, I tend to think that he would’ve turned her. They would be as valuable on our side. It’s a nice dramaturgical theme – you don’t just kill the enemy. What happened with Dutch, he’s in his own bunker, his own castle. Nobody gets in. Where else but in your own home do you feel completely confident to do what you want to do?”
Another question on everyone’s mind was whether or not fans can expect to see her hacking skills come back into play in the next two episodes. Gedmintas admitted that while she doesn’t know, it is very possible: “She’s been learning more life skills, more survival skills throughout the season, and I think that was really important to her world before, the technological. It’s a testimony for what’s going on in her mind – taking it from the macro, and really embrace what’s happening to the world and how she can help with the fight. She has that skill and can use it anytime, hopefully she will.”
In addition, fans can expect tension between Fet and Dutch due to the return of Nikki, Dutch’s former girlfriend and first love. When asked how Nikki’s return will affect Dutch, Gedmintas said, “Dutch and Nikki have this past everyone seems to have; very powerful and potent. They don’t treat each other very well, but can’t stay away from each other. When she left the store, it was a huge blow, a huge rejection. Dutch had to let that go and then there’s this man who comes into her life; misfits together. This bonds Dutch to Fet; not wild passion destructive like with Nikki. They don’t have the understanding she has with Fet. Nikki is her first love, so can’t say goodbye. She is growing up and trying to understand.”
In the aftermath of what happened between Dutch and Eichorst, many people had questions in regard to Eichorst’s future. When asked whether Eichorst will become even more depraved, Sammel said, “He is a concentration of human mankind evil. We put it on a vampire to wash our hands. It’s not us, not human. We basically behave like the vampires in “The Strain”. We submit all the animals as we do in “The Strain”. Vampires treat humans as cattle. Doesn’t justify Eichorst’s behavior; half of Eichorst is still human. He wouldn’t have been able to invent any of this stuff. The rejection of Helga. A little nuclear power plant; Plutonium, is his bad behavior. The reactor and the explosion is the affect. He believes it’s the right thing to do. His one key word is “YES”. The smile on his face, he is very proud of himself. He is willing to put his human mankind behind. He is over it; he is a perversion machine. He is the terminator, not the Arnold with the calculations, but very human.”
Sammel also addressed the question of whether Eichorst will have to answer to the Master for his childish decisions. “You can’t hide anything from the Master,” Sammel explained. “Eichorst has a certain amount of freedom which he uses as he wishes. Master has enough faith in Eichorst that he won’t f*** it up. Whatever he does, he won’t compromise the plan. This is not the first time this happened. He doesn’t eat like the other vampires. He makes a big party out of it. The Master tolerates it. Eichorst is smart enough to pick himself up.”
So, what can fans expect of this season’s final episodes? “No spoilers!” Sammel exclaimed. “We can’t do any spoilers. It’s so well into what was originally written into the books, but there’s a creation that has a good grip. The whole bow of the second season we will head to is a condensation of conflict. There is more of a reason to believe that the humans who make it, and there are more reasons that you can be convinced that the vampires will make it. There is a condensation and a preparation for a bigger battle. There is something big coming up.” Gedmintas agreed and added, “I think the finale is one of the most ambitious episodes. It’s definitely going to be a big finale.”
What are you all hoping happens in the season finale? Share your thoughts in the comment section below! In addition, watch this teaser for the season finale 🙂
The Strain airs Sundays on FX at 10 pm PST/EST.