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‘The Strain’ – Occulation

Vampires + Eclipses = ‘Uh oh’


Oh, poor New York. An eclipse is about to happen, and that cannot be a good thing when vampires are roaming about underground. Let me go back a bit first.

The opener is excellent. Eichorst (Richard Sammel) is at his worst and finest as he enters a room that can only be described as horrible. There is a man on a chain in this room. That’s all I’ll say. It’s worth the watch just for this scene.

The FBI has been put on Ephraim’s (Corey Stoll) trail due to Capt. Redfern’s autopsy at the hospital. They approach Ephraim’s estranged wife, Kelly (Natalie Brown), who has not seen him. Kelly’s boyfriend, Matt (Drew Nelson), sticks his big nose into the mix, which proves a bad thing for Ephraim later in the episode. Matt is going to have a bad day as well. A very bad day.

Vasiliy (Kevin Durand) enters his workplace only to find that terrible things have happened to his co-workers, but he prevails and goes to visit his estranged father in an attempt to warn him to get out of town with his mother. We learn a little something about Vasiliy that could be important later. I only know I want to see more of him.

Setrakian (David Bradley) has found another doomed passenger’s home and has a too-close-for-comfort confrontation in the basement. He makes a hasty escape after a tough fight but doesn’t forget to clean up the house, so to speak.

Nora (Mía Maestro) and her mother, Mariela (Anne Betancourt), are at Nora’s home when the FBI shows up. She realizes they are not safe and starts packing. On the street, people are prepping for the eclipse, but Nora is not sure what to do. She finally realizes the one place she and her mother can go that is safe. I’ll give you one guess.

Gus (Miguel Gómez) and Felix (Pedro Miguel Arce) are at the boxing ring when they are approached by Eichorst’s lackey, who brings them to a dank subterranean passage. Eichorst tells Gus that he will do another job for him, but Gus resists. This isn’t a good idea when Eichorst is involved. I’ll just say that Gus changes his mind.

Gus and Felix meet up with Jim (Sean Astin), and together they do Eichorst’s bidding by getting rid of Redfern’s bagged body. Felix can’t resist a peek, and he and Gus get a glimpse of the blood sucking tongue-like organ. It won’t be the last time they see that kind of thing on this day. I can’t tell yet if Gus is going to be a vampire killer or will side with them now that he’s experienced Eichorst’s real strength.

Ephraim gets into his old house, where he confronts Kelly and tells her to leave town with Zach (Ben Hyland). Matt calls the FBI, which results in Ephraim’s arrest and questioning. Things don’t go well until Ephraim promises to show the agents where the bodies are being held.

While the agents and Ephraim are sitting in traffic, the eclipse occurs, and our missing ME from several episodes back makes an appearance in full vampire form. The agents get out of the car to try and stop him from attacking other commuters, but that doesn’t end well. Other vampires have come up from the depths to attack during the eclipse, and this will only speed the spread of the virus.

Ephraim manages to escape and shows up at Setrakian’s shop, where he finally reunites with Nora and Mariela. I feel like Setrakian’s place is the only oasis in the coming storm.

WHAT WORKED
This episode worked on almost every level. There was a considerable amount of vamp action this week and no laggy moments to slow everything down. The characterization scenes were necessary but quick. Kelly and Zach’s scenes worked this week because they are now in real danger. Even the small emotional scene between them later in the episode was needed to give us a sense of connection to them as they will soon have to confront a new reality.

Bradley and Durand are standouts for me this week. The scene in which Vasiliy attempts to persuade his father to leave the city was bittersweet, and Durand carries it perfectly. He is a strong character and promises to be a heck of a vampire killer. Bradley’s Setrakian is the warrior who has only a little left in him but intends to fight until the bitter end. Bradley plays frail yet strong so well that I felt pain for him as we discover he has a medical problem.

The effects worked again this week. Eichorst’s opener was beautiful, and Setrakian taking another head looked awesome.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK
Very little didn’t work. I felt the only slow down was the scene with Jim, Gus and Felix as they dumped the body. It was necessary, but it felt a little out of place given the tone of the rest of the episode. Later, Gus and Felix just happen to be in the same place as the ME, which made me roll my eyes just a tad.

The FBI guys felt overly stereotypical, but I’m willing to forgive this because they were used to push the story forward.

The series has really moved into a higher gear, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Excuse me whilst I go buy popcorn for the coming episodes.

GIVING CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE
“The Strain” is based on the book of the same name by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. “Occulation” was written by Justin Britt-Gibson and directed by Peter Weller. It stars Corey Stoll, Mía Maestro, Sean Astin, David Bradley, Kevin Durand, Richard Sammel, Natalie Brown, Miguel Gómez and Ben Hyland.

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Could they be a gh...gh...gh...ghost? Rut-ro! Shaggy
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