Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain is now in its second season. To keep up with what’s happening with the show each week, Drew Dietsch and Andrew Hawkins will be putting their words together to cover only the most important of events from each episode. Strap in and enjoy as we recap, analyze and occasionally riff The Strain.
Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead
Oh man this episode was a roller coaster. We get flashbacks of Setrakian first meeting Eldritch Palmer, Kelly starts searching for Zach, Eph and Nora begin working on a virus and Fet gets down with Dutch after hunting vampires in a gym locker room. Wow. Drew, let’s start at the beginning. How about that disturbing dark and gothic opening with Bolivar and Eichorst, and then Kelly and the Feelers?
I’m so stoked that this season has come out of the gate swinging, and picking up with those creepy Feelers and Kelly has cemented this season’s commitment to embracing its weirdness. That eerie red shine that occasionally graces Kelly’s eyes is going to keep me up at night. Did you squeal when she snapped one kid’s neck in disgust? That was probably just me.
As far as Bolivar and Eichorst, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Bolivar has been upgraded to a speaking strigoi, and with The Master now looking for new host, I’m thoroughly excited about the prospect of some conflict brewing within the vamp ranks. If Eichorst and Bolivar start competing for The Master’s favor, I’ll be one happy viewer. I’m also really fond of Bolivar continuing to keep up with his goth makeup application. It’s goofy in an adorable way.
Hawkins: I’ve always had problems with Bolivar trying to be a hybrid of Marilyn Manson, Danny Filth and Peter Steele, but I like the guy (even with those vagina-like neck folds). So we see the gold casket, and then we cut to that Kelly scene. Nope!
So now Eph and Nora are working to find a virus to fight the outbreak and they start to struggle with the morals and ethics of human experimentation. Back in Fet’s fortified apartment, Setrakian searches for answers to the whereabouts of the book that will change everything. We then get a flashback to a young Eldritch Palmer who offers money and power for more info on the master. What are your thoughts on the fate of the McGeever’s and the search for the Occido Lumen?
Drew: First off, I’ll continue to support drunk Eph until he royally messes up. I know that the show has to play with the moral dilemma of what Eph and Nora are doing, but it feels both obvious and unnecessary, especially at the expense of Nora’s character. She’s just there to cry and make Eph feel bad, when what they’re doing is the only option available to them if they want to stop the virus. And considering that I’ve only known the McGeevers for about an episode (and they were pretty much doomed from the get-go), I’m way more supportive of Eph’s plan than I am of the show wanting me to feel conflicted about the whole ordeal. How do you feel about that meaty part of this week’s episode?
As far as the Occido Lumen goes, I was reminded of a video game where a side quest mission is way more fun and interesting than the main goal of the game. I’m incredibly stoked when it comes to learning more about the history of the strigoi, and that means we also get to see more Abraham flashbacks (though I think the prevalence of Abraham’s past means his future on the show is doomed) and I’m always cool with that. Though his flashback only serves to tell us how he got Sardu’s cane-sword and that he has met Eldritch before, both elements are played well, especially the actor portraying young Eldritch. He’s a perfect candidate for a baby-faced Jonathan Hyde. He even sounds like him! Was there anything that stood out in Abraham’s past for you?
Hawkins: Well considering Setrakian was one word away from calling Nora and Eph Nazis, let’s address the fact that MOTHERFUCKING PRINCE FROM LEXX IS HERE! I am so all about Nigel Bennett being cast as the despicable Dr. Draverhaven. I loved the scenes in the Steiner imports shop and that chase through Vienna had me rolling. I’m really looking forward to when young Abraham dispatches him with Sardu’s sword.
Now all that aside, here’s where we talk about the real meat and potatoes of this episode. Fet and Dutch have now banded together as kick-ass strigoi hunters. Kevin Durand has to be having the time of his life here. As soon as we get into the fitness center we know some shit is about to go down. The slaughter in the locker room has to be my favorite action scene in the show so far. The energy was ramped up, the gore effects were spectacular and for 20 seconds, I was completely on edge. Then we get treated to that pool scene. The Strain just proved they know how to give us the perfect dose of sex and violence. It rocked.
Drew: Couldn’t agree more about the fitness center showdown. Where Hannibal showcases how horror can be classy and gorgeously grotesque, The Strain just proved how fun and awesome the genre can be when it comes to purely visceral entertainment. And I love, love, love the romance Dutch and Vasiliy have cultivated. Their pool scene was equal parts cute and steamy, and theirs is by far my favorite romance we’ve seen on the show. Being a pessimist, I have to believe it has as much of a chance at making through the season as Abraham does.
And I’m officially labeling New Zach annoying. His voice, tone, attitude, and seeming lack of chemistry with Corey Stoll is making me hope that Kelly gets reunited with her son sooner rather than later. That’s a bummer because I really dug Zach and Eph’s relationship last season. Are you finding New Zach as grating as I am, or is my irrational hatred of most children just blinding my judgment?
My big question from this episode: is season two going to highlight the political/bureaucratic responses and reactions to the epidemic even more than the first season? Eldritch’s speech near the end felt like a dry run for an eventual campaign (mayor?), and who exactly was Samantha Mathis’ no-nonsense badass character? I didn’t pick up on her title exactly, but she owned the room with just one scene. I have to believe Eph’s former boss at the CDC will play a vital role moving forward due to his tenuous servitude to Eldritch, and he was looking pretty shaky in that scene.
Hawkins: Zach is a problem now. He is interfering with Eph’s work and as a target for Kelly, he is now a beacon on the Master’s radar. Zach needs to go now before shit hits the fan. I have to say the silver on Dutch’s face made me think about strigoi blood, but then some bare ass and leg wraps happened and I figured they deserve to have some fun before tragedy strikes. Things are only going to get worse before they get better.
I think we will eventually hit a point where society has collapsed and post-apocalyptic New York deals justice through vigilante means. Samantha Mathis as Councilwoman Feraldo sounds like she wants to begin arming citizens and she definitely wants to punch Barnes in the face. Eldritch is playing a power game and New Yorkers are buying into it out of desperation. What I’m wondering is what will come of that speech. I’m pretty sure he’s going to give Ms. Marchand the business after that one. I’m also expecting to see what Gus has been up to during all of this as this episode gave us no insight as to what the Ancients are planning next.
Drew: Definitely need an update on Gus next week, and any excuse to get some more Vaun into the show is good by me.
This was something of a transitional episode. Not so much wheel-spinning as it was setting up some obvious stuff for the future and filling us in on a teeny bit more backstory (which paid off in a great meeting between Eldritch and Abraham at the end). The fact that The Strain can do that while having one of the coolest action scenes I’ve seen in a while (the glorious and graphic decapitations made me giggle with perverse joy) is proof that this show knows what it’s doing.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Next week: Episode 3 – Fort Defiance