Ah, I love it when characters meet and join forces. “Creatures of the Night” delivered this week, with several of our heroes (and some not-so-heroic types) meeting at a convenience store that comes under siege by vamps.
The episode opens with Eph (Corey Stoll), Nora (Mía Maestro), Setrakian (David Bradley) and Jim (Sean Astin) heading to a medical supply store to get some UV lights after the subway attack by, and on, Eichorst (Richard Sammel). They end up meeting Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand), who has the exact same idea.
They all end up at a small convenience store to stock up on supplies, and Dutch the hacker (Ruta Gedmintas) and her friend Nikki (Nicola Correia-Damude) are there for late night snacks. I know, a tad convenient, but they all have to get together at some point. Fet and Setrakian make quick allies due to their similar ability to not be emotionally connected and Fet’s willingness to believe what Setrakian tells him.
The store parking lot is quickly besieged by vampires, or strigoi, and Setrakian makes short work of several of the offending monsters. Fet, Nora, Eph and Jim join in and start offing the amassing vampire horde outside. They are quickly outnumbered and have to fall back to the store, but not before Jim gets scratched by one of the creatures. He’s now in danger, but Nora and Eph decide to try to stop the viral process.
Now the group has the common goal of survival whilst trying to deal with Hassan, the very upset store clerk in a protective glass cage (Vasanth Sarangapani). There are other folks inside, including a freaked out bread truck driver (George Buza) and an annoyed patron who just wants to pay and leave (Rick Baker — yeah, THAT Rick Baker).
The rest of the episode was spent with everyone trying to survive as the horde grows in number, and the vamps eventually make a full assault. There is purpose behind their attack on the store, which Setrakian explains to the group. A message has been sent to the Master via the injuring of Eichorst. The Master is now responding to that message, and the evening ends with a daring escape and a couple of casualties, one of which is pretty upsetting but necessary to the story.
Most of this episode worked well, and I would say this was the best installment I’ve seen thus far. The idea of a siege gave the series a necessary shot of pure action with some exposition to fill in the gaps. It also gave the characters a chance to meet and bond. By putting Jim in mortal danger of becoming a vamp, we also have a heart tie to the outcome. Jim has betrayed, but did so for love. He wants to make amends and is still cared for by Eph and Nora, who want him to survive. Very effective stuff.
Fet and Setrakian finally meeting, and Fet getting on board so quickly, made total sense. Fet has already seen the underground horde and his viral co-workers. He has seen and chooses to believe because not believing doesn’t make sense at this point. He is written smartly and is a smart character. Durand’s excellent performance only adds to this. Durand and Bradley are great on screen together, pitiless and focused, both damaged in different ways.
Dutch’s moral ambiguity works here as well. She chooses not to explain her involvement at this point, a wise choice given how the night progresses. She is an unsympathetic character, driven by her own set of standards, but there’s a personal morality underneath.
As usual, the effects were great. There are vampires with various injuries and in varying levels of progression to maturity, so we get some good eye candy. The addition of Baker, and his subsequent horrible death, made me smile from ear to ear. It felt like a nod to “The Master,” since Baker is quite the master of special effects. I imagine all special effects artists want to die horribly on screen. It seems like fun.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
Very little didn’t work this week. I would say the only character that didn’t feel true was Hassan. He was very one-dimensional, simply an amusing background person who is making bad choices. There was a missed opportunity there. I feel like even the background folks can really add depth to a story, but he wasn’t given the chance.
Beyond this, I have no complaints. This was a tightly woven tale that had some real tension. Nicely done.
GIVING CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE
“The Strain” is based on the novel of the same name by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. “Creatures of the Night” was written by Chuck Hogan and directed by Guy Ferland. It stars Corey Stoll, Mía Maestro, Sean Astin, David Bradley, Kevin Durand and Ruta Gedmintas.