Warning: Spoilers Ahead
At the end of last week’s episode, Setrakian (David Bradley) had officially recruited Dr. Goodweather (Corey Stoll) as his new apprentice vampire hunter, but unfortunately minus Dr. Martinez (Mia Maestro). As much as it hurt to let Nora go, life must go on and Eph still had an obligation to protect the public from all virulent threats — even if that now meant beheading corpses and burning their bodies.
The next person on Setrakian’s list is Ansel Barbour (Nikolai Witschl) — yeah the same guy who chained himself in the shed and whose dear wife, Annie fed him their annoying neighbor, Trip Taylor. It’s a safe assumption this trip will be interesting. Ever since Annie uttered “I just get so overwhelmed when you’re gone…” and “Ansel, youhave to get better, you just have to,” my gut has said that this girl isn’t going to make it. And I don’t mean being infected with the virus or attacked by her vampire husband. There is a huge codependency going on here and there is no way Annie will ever be able to go on without Ansel’s guidance. Ironically, that is exactly what Setrakian and Eph discover at the Barbour home. Annie is found hanging from the ceiling, suicide note, rosary and all. Of course, we know that the real show is outside and their attention quickly turns to the growling that is heard coming from the shed. With the help of Dr. Goodweather and a nail gun specially equipped with silver nails, Setrakian quickly takes down Ansel as well as the not-yet-turned Trip Taylor. Plus Eph got the video footage he was after to try and convince the CDC to issue a city-wide quarantine. Not bad for the first day on the job, Eph!
So, while Ansel Barbour was terrified of what he was becoming, Gabriel Bolivar (Jack Kesy) seems to be relishing it. And the best part about Bolivar is because of his Goth stage act, no one senses that anything is wrong with the guy — well, at least until it’s too late. Remember that urologist that was supposed to make a house call due to Gabe’s rotting groin? Well, she finally shows up and even she doesn’t think twice about approaching Bolivar…until he has her pinned with his stinger deep in her throat. Gabe is the one survivor who seems to have already gotten the hang of his new identity, because when Ruby (Regina King) sends in a “cleaner” to collect the dead doctor’s body, he quickly takes that guy down in less than a minute. This all makes you wonder if Bolivar was specially picked by the Master, doesn’t it? Hmmmm….
As I mentioned in my review of last week’s episode, the only survivor we haven’t heard a thing from is Joan Luss (Leslie Hope), the greedy, conniving corporate lawyer whose only concern is to sue the airline and make a quick buck. To our surprise, Luss doesn’t appear nearly as sick as the other survivors (it’s likely the disease is just moving slower with her, much like what Setrakian described in patients infected with the flu). She’s sheet-white and she has the blood-red eyes, but she still has her thick head of hair and no sign of the stinger (yet). Even still, the nanny Neeva (Kim Roberts) sees something very wrong with her boss and how she is hungrily looking at the kids, especially the daughter Audrey (Chloe O’Malley) and so, very wisely gets the children out of the house. It’s going to be interesting to see where the writers of the series go with this particular storyline. In the book Neeva does flee with the Luss children, but we never really find out definitively what happened to them. Oh, and where is the husband by the way? Luss responded to Bolivar’s sexual advances in episode two by stating she had a husband to go home to but so far, no sign of him. Just another thing that makes you wonder….
Aside from the survivors, the other major arc in this episode is one that I have really been looking forward to and that’s more of the backstory of Eichhorst (Richard Sammel) and Setrakian (Jim Watson guest-stars as the young Abraham). We know it started back at a concentration camp in World War II and tonight we get to see when they first met through a series of flashbacks. Loved, loved, loved these scenes and coming from someone who has read the books, it’s exactly how I had pictured them. We learn that Eichhorst was not a vampire yet back then and instead was just another sadistic camp commander. And we also see a relatively “young” Master, who appears to have begun his life as a new vampire by preying on low-risk victims at death camps, people who no one would really miss. As an added surprise, the wonderful Kathleen Chalfant (The Laramie Project, House of Cards) guest-starred as Abraham’s grandmother, the one who told him the tales very early in young Abe’s childhood about these monsters who fed on people’s blood. I don’t know how long Chalfant’s character will last given she’s an old woman in a death camp, but it was certainly a treat for the short time we had her.
Finally, as promised in the preview Vasily Fet (Kevin Durand) is back and even though he doesn’t know squat about what is really going on, he stumbles on a key to the puzzle. One of the biggest challenges Setrakian and Eph will face when they begin their vampire hunting is not knowing where the creatures are sleeping during the day. If they had that information, they could take out hordes of these monsters in the daytime when they are at their weakest. Well, I think Fet just found their nest in the sewers of NYC, which also could mean that the Master is hiding down there as well. Fet, Eph and Setrakian really need to meet up and compare notes and I mean like yesterday!
And, for those who had been wondering what happened to Jim Kent (Sean Astin) after Eph and Nora dumped him in the basement of the hospital, he does get a chance to redeem himself at the end of tonight’s episode — well, sort of. With the video of the turned Ansel Barbour in hand, Eph makes a futile attempt to persuade Director Barnes (Daniel Kash) to declare a city-wide quarantine. Little does he know that he has already been labeled as a crazy loon and the FBI will soon be on their way to arrest him. But before the FBI arrives, Jim is able to get Eph out of the building with Eph ending the conversation by saying, “If you want to do something good, just do your job.” But, if Jim helps what will his new “employers” think? I really love the Jim Kent character and I so want him to somehow survive this thing, but something tells me that Eichhorst won’t take too kindly to a betrayal.
All in all I really liked this episode, giving it probably a mid to low “A.” It was the first episode that included most of the major players (Gus was the only one that was missing) and the writers did a fantastic job putting it all together, without making it feel fragmented. And for the viewers who are also fans of the books, I’m sure you were pleased because it followed very closely the source material with only a few small details changed. However, there were a couple of things that bothered me. First, if the survival of the human race is on the line, I think the last thing I would do is stop and make a full-course breakfast like Setrakian did in the opening scenes — and, he did it in Emma Arnot’s house…whose body they had just burned! Stop at McD’s for a couple of egg mcmuffins and move on! Yes I get it, this made for a good lead-in to the Setrakian flashbacks, but I think the traveling time spent with Eph in his truck could have been used equally for this purpose.
Second, is it just me or does it bother anyone else that Eph is calling his colleague (and lover) Nora to make sure she is OK, instead of his wife and son? Again, I can sort of see how it was important in advancing the plot of Nora and her mother, but it was also very distracting. And it just reinforced what I have said from the beginning about Eph being a royal asshole.
Next week’s episode is titled “Occultation”, and things are starting to spin out of control. Dr. Goodweather has been framed for Redfern’s murder, discredited, and being hunted by the FBI. And, with the impending eclipse, Setrakian begins to believe that this event is key in the Master’s plan and may mark the beginning of the end.
The Strain airs on Sundays at 10/9c on FX.
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Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com
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