The Strain Review: Gone Smooth
First things first, The Strain is moving pretty slowly. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s something that has to be pointed out. While this is technically only the 3rd episode, let’s not forget that the first episode was almost 2 hours. It seems really unfair to say a show is slow 3 episodes in and but I think this ties back to what I was saying last week about the biggest hurdle for the horror genre. With The Strain, we KNOW some bad shit is about to go down and sometimes as an audience we want to get ahead of ourselves and just “get to the good stuff”. This episode of The Strain was another “filler” episode but it’s necessary filler so that we can truly appreciate the “good stuff”. As long as this show lives up to the potential I'm hoping for by the end of the season, I'll be happy. The only exception to this are the scenes with Eph’s family. I don’t need to read the book to know that these parts suck and are clearly the parts of the book that should have been cut out. But I’ll get more into that later.
This show continues to be creepy as all fuck. The episode starts with Eichorst literally putting his face on. This might have been the most eerie opening sequence I’ve seen for a TV Show in a long time. It did make me wonder a few things. First off, what is Eichorst. We’ve been assuming he’s just another vampire but is he? In this episode we see the “survivors” change even more and they seem to lose any short of control over their behavior. Eichorst is different. He can make rational and controlled thoughts and it makes me wonder if he is a vampire, how many different types are their? Also did he lose his nose because of whatever he is or did he lose it in some epic battle with Abraham?
I also thought the “blood worms” they show under the skin are creepy as fuck. They make me instantly start itching. I can tell Guillermo Del Toro worked on this show because his talent for designing this kind of stuff really stands out. When Ansel decides to suck the steak blood out of the pan it’s really one of the most disgusting scenes I’ve seen. Mainly because his proboscis was so realistic in its movement, it really added to the vile nature of the scene. Of course, in keeping with the “this can’t end well” theme of this show, his wife walks in on him and doesn’t immediately run out the house calling the police. I got the feeling she was pretty needy and I’m guessing she’ll be laying in bed with him the next episode saying “Honey, we can work this out.” The scene at the end when the Captain completely turns and attacks Jim, Nora & Eph was also well done. I like how the Captain was using his proboscis to try to attack. Once again though, it leaves me wondering why all the sudden he became more animalistic.
Samwise Sacrificing Again
Sean Astin is always playing a character making huge sacrifices for someone he cares about. Look, I have a lot of friends but I don’t have one that I’m literally willing to go to Mordor for. Now in The Strain, Astin is playing Jim Kent and it turns out he has a pretty damn good excuse for helping the Stoneheart Group (even though he didn’t know that’s who he was doing the favor for). I like that they gave him a legit reason for doing what he did. I would have hated for it to be something as simple as he gambled away his savings and now owes the wrong people. Because he’s doing this for his sick wife, I have a lot more sympathy for what he’s going through and doing. Particularly since he thought he was just dealing with another guy he knew. Of course dealing with Eichorst is essentially dealing with the devil. Eichorst hit him with “you have two bosses now Jim Kent…the ones you work for at the CDC and me.” You know this can’t end well. But at least Eichorst was a man (creature?) of his word. By the time Jim got home his wife was already notified she was accepted into the treatment center.
I know Rod from The Black Guy Who Tips wasn’t happy about this scene. He doesn’t take sword ratchetness lightly and seeing a judge not take it seriously (even on a fictional show) has to make him mad. Listen, old man Abraham is the shit. I love this old man. He really went before the judge and played the senile old man/holocaust survivor card. I love how he can play the helpless old man when he needs to in order to reach a goal. And he’s not about trying to catch people up either. Nora tried to talk to him and Abraham told her that they weren’t ready to do what was necessary so she’s just wasting his time.
I need Abraham to cross paths with Vasiliy Fet. I think the both of them would make one hell of a team. Hell you could probably turn it into a “buddy cop” movie. Fet completely ruined that rich guys’ morning telling him about the apartment he bought. Honestly I need more of Abraham and Vasiliy. They’re the two characters that interest me the most.
Eph is an Asshole and Deserved to Lose Custody
And now for that part of the review where I talk about how much I hate the scenes with Eph and his family. Thankfully there weren’t too many scenes this week. I will say this week I was more annoyed with Eph than his wife and kid. He got mad at his wife for “coaching” their son in the custody hearing when that’s exactly what he did last episode. And for the record, I don’t think his wife did any coaching. I think Eph’s son was smart enough to realize that his father is too damn busy to be having joint custody. After this episode I think I finally realized why I couldn’t stand the scenes with Eph’s family. Eph’s an asshole and everyone knows it. He’s clearly too busy to deal with having a son yet we have to sit through scenes with him whining about not being given joint custody? I know what the show is trying to do. They’re trying to show us that Eph is a workaholic and a control freak and that he can’t accept a situation where he doesn’t have absolute control. But I just find that character trait to be annoying and not something I want to see. Not saying this is a problem with the show but I personally can’t stand watching these scenes. I was particularly pissed when he interrupted the hearing to try to say that his son didn’t know what he was saying. It just proved to me how much of a shitty father he is. And the worst part is, he doesn’t see that or won’t accept that. I’ve seen plenty of shitty parents on TV before and they normally don’t bother me as much as this does. I think it’s because it’s of the entitlement. I think there’s a sweet spot you have to find when writing a character like this and I feel like the writing is just too far over the line. It’s almost as if they want us to feel some kind of sympathy for Eph but the truth is, I have none because when it comes to his family, they’ve presented us with zero good qualities of Eph.
Viagra Won’t Work For That
Whoever named this episode ain't shit man. I wasn’t ready for Gabriel’s dick to fall off into the toilet. I knew something was obviously wrong because when he showed his doctor, he was told to immediately go to a hospital or a real specialist. And then he’s taking a piss and you hear the sound of something larger than some piss falling into the toilet and I just knew it was his dick. Gabriel was waaaaaaaaaaaay too calm about that too. I mean he looked at it, and then flushed the toilet. Then just in case viewers weren’t sure what happened he reveals that he’s packing the same downstairs as the MX droids from Almost Human. Of course once again this just brings up more questions. Why did his dick fall off? Are all the “survivors” going to have their genitalia fall off or rendered useless? I guess that’s a good change from the “romantic” version of vampires we’ve been getting but I still want to know what the “rules” are for this world.
I’ll be honest, this is one of the frustrating parts of this show. I don’t mind a slow burn and development for a show. But the problem with The Strain is that they’re purposely avoiding addressing the “rules” of this show. What I mean is, I don’t need to know the overall plan of “The Master” or even what he looks like right now. But it would be nice to know the rules of these creatures he’s created. Why did some die on the plane? Why are the survivors changing at different rates? Why has no one noticed 150+ “dead” passengers walking around the city? Yeah you forgot about that didn’t you? After munching on the medical examiner, where the hell did those other bodies go and why the hell did no one notice that? I know we’ll get answers to these things (well, at least I’m hoping so) but it is frustrating. I’m willing to continue to give this show a chance because it still is good and I have a feeling it’s developing like Helix did. Helix had the same issue for its first few episodes where you really had no idea what was going on and then the ball started rolling and answers/questions started coming more freely. I’m hoping The Strain is like that. I’m going to keep rating this show in the B’s because even though it’s frustratingly slow, I feel like the payoff will be worth it. I actually hate that this show has turned me into one of those people who complains about a show being ‘slow’ this early into the season but that’s because I’m nervous. This can either be really good or a really shitty payoff. This show is introducing so many things in episodes; it doesn’t slow down to explain any of them. It’s like there’s a lack of focus right now and I know from shows like Helix that can be by design and can be rewarding. I’m in this for the full season because of the potential but I need it to start explaining itself soon.