I love it when a series finds its legs, and this week’s episode did have some serious game.
We open with Gabriel Bolivar’s (Jack Kesy) manager, Ruby Wain (Regina King), meeting a doctor who is supposed to examine Bolivar’s now MIA genital area. Bolivar makes short work of the doc, which upsets Wain — but not enough to call the police. No, she calls a cleaner named Jack Noon (Larry Fessenden), who is supposed to tidy up the mess, but Bolivar is still hungry. You can guess how that meeting ended.
Ephraim (Corey Stoll) and Setrakian (David Bradley) are having breakfast in the Arnot household after Setrakian dispatched father and daughter to the great beyond, which isn’t weird at all. Setrakian explains a bit more about the disease and The Master.
We get a couple of flashback scenes in this episode to start filling in some of the blanks, and they worked well. Young Setrakian (Jim Watson), his brother Jacob (Rhys Ward) and his grandmother (Kathleen Chalfant) are inside a cattle car in 1944 Poland. You know this is going to be bad. They are dumped in a work camp where we see the Nazi Eichorst (Richard Sammel), who appears to be the same age he is in the modern story line but has seemingly not been turned at this point. The Master (voiced by Robin Atkin Downes/played by Robert Maillet) is also present in the flashback story, and the scenes in which he is involved are quite good.
Setrakian and Ephraim travel to the Barbour household so they can destroy Ansel (Nikolai Witschl) and get some footage of what’s going on so Ephraim can persuade his boss to issue a quarantine. They arrive to find that Ann-Marie (Alex Paxton-Beesley) has hung herself, and Ansel is still in the shed. Setrakian does what he needs to do; Ephraim has the footage he needs and they part ways to take care of more business. Of course Ephraim cannot convince Everett (Daniel Kash) of the impending doom, with Everett choosing to try and detain him. Jim (Sean Astin), in an effort to redeem himself a bit, helps Eph escape. A mega-conspiracy is afoot.
A distraught Nora (Mía Maestro) goes to see her mom Mariela (Anne Betancourt), who has walked away from a care facility. After some conversation in which we are made to understand her mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s, a vamp attack occurs and the two make a hasty retreat from the center.
Vasiliy (Kevin Durand) is chasing vermin and discovers a vampire horde in the sewers. This would explain the strange rat behavior as of late, and is a major plot point. He escapes, but doesn’t appear again in the episode.
Eldritch (Jonathan Hyde) has made it through surgery to replace his liver, and he’s bedridden and suffering. Seems as though The Master didn’t come through on his promise, leaving our baddie in a bad way. I’m sure Eldritch still has some tricks up his sleeve.
Joan Luss (Leslie Hope), the attorney, is in rough shape. The virus is taking longer with her, but she’s getting there. The very smart nanny Neeva (Kim Roberts) sees Joan’s eye slits and oddly predatory behavior and decides to shuffle the kids out of the house and to safety on the pretense that she’s taking them to a movie. Joan is in line to be a pretty nasty vamp, and I can’t wait.
This episode had better flow, and the story moved at a stronger pace. We do get some much-needed history from Setrakian, and Bradley’s delivery is fabulous. He’s a joy to watch. Every word out of his mouth practically drips with hard-earned wisdom and scalpel-like sarcasm.
The vamp action is much better this week, with Bolivar’s scene being of particular interest to me. There’s a great moment between he and Ruby when she discovers him feeding on the doctor.
Leslie Hope brings Joan Luss’ character a feral quality that I really enjoyed. She was thirsting for blood and sniffing her kids like they were Kobe steak. I need to see more of her. The quick-thinking nanny was a nice touch. Rarely are characters in horror pieces written to be smart enough to take action when they see obvious problems, but I like that she was allowed to act when she saw a threat to the kids.
The effects have remained excellent throughout, and there is more gore factor this week. The series needs it to tell the story properly, and I’m glad to see the quality hasn’t decreased. P.S. I still want the box. Thanks.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
Very little, actually. I’d say Nora needs some beefing up in the spine department. My understanding is that she becomes quite the warrior in the books, and I’m hoping to see her firm up a bit in the series. The introduction of her mother may be what’s needed to get her into fight mode.
I am sorry we won’t be seeing the Barbours anymore. Their new dynamic was interesting, and there may have been more angry neighbors who needed to be fed to Ansel.
The flashbacks did slow things down a tiny bit, but they were very necessary as The Master and Setrakian’s back story have been vague. This is less a complaint and more an observation.
These are minor details in what was a great episode. Keep ‘em coming!
GIVING CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE
“The Strain” is based on the novel of the same name by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. “Runaways” was written by Gennifer Hutchison and directed by Peter Weller. It stars Corey Stoll, David Bradley, Mía Maestro, Sean Astin, Jack Kesy, Kevin Durand, Jonathan Hyde and Richard Sammel.