First, what did everyone think of that fantastic new opening! I, for one, was getting pretty tired of that same 2-second jingle that we’ve been listening to for the past year and a half, and so, it was about time we got a real theme song and opening sequence. With a dark musical score and a comic-book artistic theme, the new opening is animated and spotlights each of the main cast (including Rupert Penry-Jones as Quinlan, which I was very happy about!). Kudos to the creative team on this one. A great start for what turns out to be another great episode.
YOU CAN COUNT ON EICHHORST FOR A GOOD PEP TALK — AND A WELL-PLANNED COUNTERATTACK
You know it’s going to be a great episode of The Strain if it opens with a scene featuring Thomas Eichhorst (Richard Sammel). This one is no exception. The opening scene shows Kelly Goodweather (Natalie Brown) and the aftermath of last week’s failed attack. Poor, poor Kelly is completely depressed and down on herself, with a single feeler (yay! At least one of those boogers is still alive!) stroking her hair like a human child would normally do to his mother. If the scene weren’t between 2 hideous bloodsucking strigoi, I would probably say, “Ahhhh! How sweet!”
Then, enters Eichhorst. Yes, initially, he puts on his fatherly facade and consoles Kelly. Then, the calculating Eichhorst quickly enters the picture to give his pupil a good kick, and tells her to pick herself up because it’s time to go to work again.
She’s replaced me — Kelly
Ah, Dr. Martinez. She’s insignificant. She’s nothing. You will show her that in due time — Eichhorst
Why do I still feel pain? — Kelly
It takes a few years for pain to subside. Be patient. The boy belongs with you. She’s behaving as if he’s hers. They are tenacious, but you are relentless. We will return. I have made a plan. It is time for them to see our true power — Eichhorst
And, what exactly is that plan? Well, it seems that Eichhorst has decided that Kelly may need reinforcements because he pays a man a very large sum of money to transport 20 strigoi from Manhattan to Red Hook on his ferry boat. As it turns out, that’s only the tip of the iceberg of the fun Eichhorst has planned for Dr. Goodweather, Zack, Nora, and everyone else in Red Hook.
JUSTINE FERALDO STEALS THE SHOW AS AN UNLIKELY HERO IN THE SERIES’ FIRST VAMPIRE HORDE ATTACK
Ever since Justine (Samantha Mathis) barged into that meeting in episode 2 and told those politicians’ idiot asses off, I’ve been loving this character and have been anxiously awaiting to see more of her. Well, I, and the rest of the Justine fans out there, got their wish tonight, because this episode belonged 100% to Councilwoman Feraldo.
However, Justine is a work-in-progress in the episode and doesn’t start off in good favor with everyone, especially me. Eph (Corey Stoll), Fet (Kevin Durand) and Setrakian (David Bradley) decide to go out of their way to warn Feraldo that her pet Red Hook project isn’t exactly “clean” yet because Zack’s (Max Charles) strigoi Mom made it through and had attacked them. But, they don’t get a very warm reception which could be credited to Setrakian’s crazed ramblings about The Master, his being able “to see through Kelly’s eyes,” and basically all the rubbish Abe spilled to Dr. Goodweather the first time they met at JFK in the Pilot. As you probably can guess, they are promptly shown the door by Feraldo and her security.
But, with Eichhorst, Kelly, and his strigoi minions being successful in getting the Red Hook electrical substation shut down, Justine finally decides it’s time to listen to Dr. Goodweather, and yes, even the crazy old man. Within minutes of the blackout, the 20 strigoi from the ferry launch their initial attack at the main checkpoint. Most of Justine’s men are scattered throughout Red Hook on patrol, and so, they don’t exactly have a lot of fire power to take on even 20 strigoi. This is where Samantha Mathis really starts to shine and where Feraldo begins to emerge as a true leader. They need as many people with guns at that checkpoint, and so instead of just standing around shouting orders from the captain’s chair, Justine grabs a gun herself and jumps down in the trenches.
They manage to stave off that initial attack, but even Justine acknowledges it was too easy. And, as Setrakian warns, it *was* too easy because it was only a probe — a test to see what kind of defenses they have. The real attack was imminent, and they should expect hordes and hordes of vampires. That actually is a huge understatement because when Justine takes a look through her binoculars, what she sees throws her into a full-blown panic attack. A mega-horde with literally hundreds and hundreds of vampires (I assume these vamps were already in Red Hook and brought together with that “homing call” that we keep hearing?).
For a moment, Justine completely loses her shit. She is literally brought to tears, says this is a suicide mission, and blames herself for all the good men who are about to die. But, in a very surprising turn, Captain Kowalski (Paulino Nunes) steps up and sets his boss straight:
Those guys are down there because they belong there. Got it? Never hesitate again because that will get us killed — Captain Kowalski to Feraldo
This is exactly what Justine needed to hear and puts her on a warpath to take out these things and keep Red Hook alive at all cost. The problem is Feraldo doesn’t have enough men in her patrol to take on a horde of that magnitude — but all of Red Hook does. That is, there is enough people in Red Hook to give them a fighting chance, but in order for that to work, Justine has to find a way to convince and inspire these people to come out of the safety of their homes and fight for their community. This is THE Justine Feraldo moment of the night, and she completely nails it.
People of Red Hook. This is Justine Feraldo speaking. We need your help. We are under attack. I repeat, Red Hook is under attack. When this plague began, so many looked the other way. We stayed in our homes and hoped someone else would deal with this problem. Now, it’s the moment of truth. No one is coming to rescue us. If we want to survive, we must do this ourselves. Join me and fight for all of us. Don’t let these monsters take it from us. People, today we fight or we die — Justine
Wow, what a speech. These are the words of a natural-born leader. And, it works too. The next thing we see are people racing in the streets straight into the onslaught of strigoi just as the horde breaks through the fence. And, yes, just like the initial attack, Justine isn’t hiding away while everyone else is doing the dirty work — she’s out in the street fighting too. Bravo to you, Justine Feraldo!
Red Hook’s real break comes with Vasily and Nora back at that electrical substation. Even with his advanced degrees, Fet is left scratching his head what to do next while Nora decides perhaps they should just read the damn manual. That turns out to be the key, and within minutes, Nora has the lights back on in Red Hood. This includes all the UV’s which fry the remaining strigoi and thus, saves everyone and their community.
People will remember this day. And you — Captain Kowalski to Feraldo
Me? No, Frank, we did this together — Justine Feraldo
Do you think we’ll see Justine Feraldo again soon? After this — you can count on it. And, I personally can’t wait.
THE DUMBASS-OF-THE-WEEK AWARD GOES TO VASILY FET
Fet. Fet. Fet. I don’t know if your head is still “in the skirt” like Setrakian said or you’re not as smart as I thought you were, but man, you need to get your shit together!
In tonight’s episode, at first glance it appears that perhaps Vasily is going to be a hero by saving Zack from his strigoi Mom. Kelly is able to track her “dear one” to the electrical substation as Zack tags along with Fet and Nora to try and get the power turned back on. Nora and Zack find themselves trapped in the main control room, and Fet attacks Kelly straight-on to give the 2 time enough to escape. Very cool.
What comes next — not so cool. Vasily is able to get Kelly in a choke-hold with a piece of rebar, which normally would be a good idea except for one very important thing — be sure to wear some freakin’ gloves! The metal causes Kelly to start bleeding, which releases a whole slew of bloodworms, some of which dang near make it to Fet’s hand (actually, I thought Vasily HAD been infected at first and nearly had a stroke. It wasn’t until I watched the scene again in slow motion that I saw the worms missed him).
So, Vasily, why don’t you bring yourself up to the intelligence level of the Red Hook PD? Wear gloves, tape shut the sleeves of your shirt and bottom of your pants, and just basically stop acting like a complete idiot!
NEW BEGINNINGS WITH NEW PARTNERSHIPS
Now, for the one thing I didn’t like about this episode. “The Battle for Red Hook” was supposed to be about Kelly and Eichhorst’s coordinated attack on Feraldo’s “safe zone” and the 2nd attempt to kidnap Zack, and so, why, oh why, did the writers feel the need to use over 20 minutes of the hour on the Abraham/Eichhorst tit-for-tat? What’s more, Dr. Goodweather is brought into it, and so only half the time is Setrakian vs. Eichhorst with the rest being Eph vs. Eichhorst with his crappy Mauser K98 rifle.
I personally think the episode would have been better if the entire hour had been devoted to the horde attack (hell, very well-written herd attacks have spanned multiple episodes on The Walking Dead!), and in my opinion, these duels served only as unwelcome distractions from the main storyline.
The only reason I can think of why they chose to interject these scenes is to highlight the fact that there are now new pairings/partnerships within the team. Fet normally teams up with Setrakian, but with Eph and Nora’s relationship now on the skids, Eph needs a new partner. And, with Eph now with Abraham, Fet has no choice left but Nora, especially since Dutch is back with Nikki(and given that Nikki saves Dutch’s life tonight, my guess is that relationship is going to stick… well, until Nikki becomes strigoi chow). Am I happy about these new tag-teams? The Fet and Nora one, definitely. As the book readers know, Fet and Nora are a couple in the trilogy, and while I was initially dead-set against this, seeing how big of a bitch Dutch has become, I’m probably one of the biggest Fet/Nora cheerleaders now.
Even though these disruptions bothered me, ultimately I didn’t fault the episode too much for them. “The Battle for Red Hook” is definitely the most intense episode of the series thus far, and we see more strigoi in this eppy than the entire season 2 combined. What’s more, we finally get our first glimpse at something that Guillermo del Toro had teased before season 2 even premiered — lots of vampire hordes. Dr. Goodweather had said at the beginning of the episode that he still had confidence in his new bio-weapon, and he would make it as fast as the Master would create more strigoi. Well, with the looks of that horde we saw tonight, Eph, you’d better get busy.
CRITIC GRADE — A
The Strain airs on Sundays at 10/9c on FX.
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
s are closed.