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
So this week we start off with a scene where Eichorst makes arrangements to transport strigoi into Red Hook, and then we see Kelly being soothed by a feeler as she recovers from the fight in Fet’s apartment. We get a quick exchange where Kelly and Eichorst let us know that a battle is about to occur, and then something a little different happens.
I actually got pretty excited when the new opening credits sequence started playing. It gave me the impression that something big was about to go down and that this one would be a game changer. Thinking about it now, the new animated opener with the updated theme seems like a midseason place marker. Despite some of the character art looking a bit wonky, I like it.
The new title sequence certainly helps the show better establish its identity: this is a fun show, not some grimdark exploration of human misery and our inevitable apocalypse. This show is about fighting against evil and doing so with a pulp comic book’s sense of enjoyment. Pity about some of the actors’ faces though.
Hawkins: Before we get into the battle that takes place, I’d like to get into some of the developing relationships between our core characters. More than anything else, this episode showed us that things are changing with everyone. Nora is now Kelly’s target due to her mothering Zach, Eph and Setrakian are establishing that they have separate goals but can still work together and the love triangle involving Dutch, Nikki and Fet is basically keeping our #1 hunter distracted. How are you feeling about Fet getting friend-zoned? I’m kinda thinking this is going to end very badly.
Drew: Is it me or was there a nice bit of camaraderie between Fet and Nora? Is she going to be giving Eph the cold shoulder and turning her attentions to everyone’s favorite exterminator? Probably not, but let me have my shipping fantasies!
I gotta say that I do not see the purpose of Nikki other than to give Dutch someone to channel her own drama through. Nikki isn’t nearly as interesting or compelling as anyone else in the group, and her sole meaning as a character is at the service of Dutch. When her and Dutch fight and Dutch madly begins to kiss her after shouting, “Loving you never made me happy!”, I didn’t believe their relationship. Even Nikki’s mini-arc of ” hey, help people out” fell flat with me.
Hawkins: Yeah. It’s weird to see so much soap opera action going on and I am getting a bit burnt out by it. One thing I enjoy about The Strain is its ability to move from cloak and dagger sequences to frantic scenes of vampires versus humans, all the while keeping itself from being taken too seriously. This episode really laid the drama on thick and after a while it got pretty draining. I want to see this Nikki arc end, but I’m fearing the results. If something happens to Dutch, it’s definitely gonna light a fire under Fet’s ass and get his head back in the game. His character has been so distracted here lately that Kelly’s worms nearly got him infected during their fight.
Drew: I wouldn’t have as big of an issue with all the histrionics if the climactic attack on Red Hook hadn’t been kind of underwhelming. The Strain has always had to reconcile the fact that a lot of its budget is eaten up by its (admittedly great) creature effects, and that’s why the best action scenes have all been very small scale (the convenience store in season 1 and the rec center from this season are good examples). Trying to attempt something as big as the siege that took place in this episode only serves to highlight how much smaller of a show The Strain is. I like that it’s trying to go bigger, but it doesn’t quite seem to have the budget to fully realize that. All that said, the aftermath of the attack with all the burned strigoi corpses everywhere did look pretty cool.
Hawkins: That’s a really good point. This show is at it’s best when we are seeing the action take place in more confined spaces. The scale of the assault on the Red Hook checkpoint was a little bit bigger than the show needs to be handling right now, but for the sake of the story it was still effective. The strigoi are becoming even more of an army and now Justine Feraldo knows it. I have to give credit to Samantha Mathis for stepping it up and carrying a good chunk of this episode. I’m gonna say that after the events that took place and her conduct towards the mayor, she’s likely going to be targeted. She’s already in the spotlight and I doubt that’s going to last much longer.
Drew: She doesn’t have a character image in the leading credits. She’s probably toast.
The other deflating part of this episode was the final confrontation with Eichorst. While it’s always a pleasure to listen to him and Abraham trade words, it was pretty obvious that this wasn’t going to close the book on either of these characters. The only somewhat meaningful exchange was Eichorst telling Eph that he can access Kelly’s thoughts, allowing for an attempt to chip away at Eph’s morale. That was fun, but that was about it. I didn’t get much else out of that sequence. How many times will they be faced with Eichorst just to have him run away? Either give us a worthy showdown (which was hinted at with Abraham looking like a true badass out on the street, sword-cane at the ready), or don’t have these two characters face each other for a while. I much prefer seeing more of Eichorst’s relationship with Kelly now. That stuff has been juicy and compelling.
Hawkins: See, that’s what I’m wondering about now. Are Eichorst’s wounds fatal? It looked like Setrakian got at least four shots to the body, and we’ve seen him injured before but only superficially. If he is heading to The Master after being lit up, we may finally get to see more of Bolivar in action. We haven’t seen anything from him since the standoff against Quinlan that basically wound up being a teaser. Since we were so focused on our core group with this chapter of the story, who knows what even going on with Gus right now, or even Eldritch Palmer right now. It looks like we’re being set up for some more big picture storytelling and I expect it’s going to come very soon.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Next week: Episode 10 – The Assassin