The Strain Season 2 – First Born

Okay, this is my last review for a couple of episodes because I’m going to be reviewing other stuff. It doesn’t  matter too much as the show, even though its season has been shortened by a couple of episodes, still insists on meandering its way towards the plot. I think I can skip at least a couple of episodes, as nothing important is likely to happen. I don’t dislike this season  exactly, but everything that was most annoying about the last season, is pretty much still happening, only with slightly quicker editing.

I was really hoping, with it’s emphasis on Quinlan and Gus that I wouldn’t need to look at either Zach or Kelly during this episode, but the show decided to torture me anyway by opening with a completely unnecessary scene of Zach and Kelly hanging out.

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In the last episode, I noped out before the scene where The Master infected Zach with a single worm.The writers seemed to consider that some sort of cliffhanger (not realizing we don’t give a shit what happens to Zach) and left that scene until now, where we find that Zach is fine. Well, at least we got the two of them out of the way. We don’t see them for the rest of the episode.

Setrakian finds the Occido Lumen has been stolen. Fet’s conclusion, jumped into with both feet and a yahooo, is that Quinlan did it. Well he’s not wrong. Quinlan and Eph did it, so that Eph could trade Zach for the Lumen. And this is yet another reason why the writers need several good punches to their necks. Eph clearly  and succinctly outlines to Quinlan, why giving the Lumen to the Master, is a bad idea.  He could be dooming the entire human race if he does so, but decides to go along with his plan anyway because he’s a parent, he loves his boy, blah, blah, blah. Honestly, if Eph isn’t the most irritating white male protagonist I’ve ever seen in a show, I don’t know who is. I’m guessing he’s meant to be unlikable.

Quin gets some backstory outlining how he was found by an old witch woman and given civilized behavior, in an effort to fulfill the prophecy that he would one day kill the Master. The Master, discovering his existence, traps Quin and the old woman in a cave. She feeds herself to Quin before he can starve, and become too weak to fight the Master, when he returns.

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Its nice to see Eph and Quinlan bonding like this (NOT!). Quin has no patience for Eph’s general foolery. Yeah, Quin doesn’t like Eph very much either. I quite understand.

Plot is  still dawdling along despite having only 7 episodes left.

We go to Gus’ circumstances as he and Angel try to hide his mother from the local security patrols who are going from building to building looking for vampires, I guess. I’d have more to say about this but I was distracted by all the garbage strewn throughout the halls of Gus’ apartment building. I kept wondering if it looked like that before the apocalypse, and if not, when did the apartment dwellers find time to leave all this loose trash all over the building. Its just a tiny thing, but it strikes me as some white middle-class set designer’s idea of extreme poverty. Lots of trash everywhere.

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Gus is successful at letting his mother get away, but he and Angel get conscripted by the local police to do patrols. Actually, that isn’t a bad idea. The guy who conscripts them says it doesn’t make any sense to have able-bodied men just sitting in jail, when they could be out fighting the plague. Its heartless, but sensible.

Eph makes a deal to exchange the Lumen for Zach at a neutral meeting place. Eph is so dumb that he takes the real book with him trusting that the Master is going to live up to his end of the bargain. Setrakian and Fet track the book to the meeting place.

Glowing red eyeballs on the vampires still make me laugh, tho’!

All these forces converge at the meeting, and the show keeps teasing us with  wonderful ideas, like an infected SEAL Team, that we will never get a show about. Naturally, the Master betrays Eph. That was to be expected. (Just not by Eph.) All the vampires get poisoned when Setrakian, bad-ass that he is, sets off several silver grenades. He even manages to poison the Master enough to slow him down long enough for Quin to chop off his head. So the master appears to be dead, but since its only the third episode and I did read the books, I’m pretty sure he’s not, as most of his worms got away. And we’ve seen him switch bodies before, so…

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So really, it was just an okay episode. Not bad, but nothing really great.I liked all the Quinlan stuff because that’s always cool. Ephraim Goodweather is an annoying idiot that needs a good face-punching. Setrakian continues to be OG, while Fet, Gus, and Angel are his smaller, less intelligent, backup gangstas. Zach needs to be burned in effigy, thereby exorcising him from the show. And no Palmer, Eichorst or Dutch, so that’s in the plus column. I hope this episode isn’t as good as the show gets though.

 

The Strain Season 3: NY Strong

So, I watched the first episode of season three and I can’t say I was impressed. I didnt hate it, but it wasn’t exactly memorable either. The show picks up very close to where it left off in the season two finale, when Eph’s vampirized wife, Kelly, finally kidnapped her son, Zach, and killed Nora. Setrakian finally managed to gain The Occido Lumen, and we had no idea where Gus went.

Eph is, predictably, getting drunk and waiting at his home for Kelly and Zach to drop by. We know this because he has a nightmare that Zach has been turned into a vampire and he has to shoot him. Its a very harrowing dream and this is one of the few times I actually felt for Eph. I want to snark about how it’ll be the last time I have feelings for Eph, beyond wanting to punch him in the throat, but I’m gonna let it go because he’s discovered snark and  actually made me laugh during the following scene.

Setrakian has a voice-over about the sitrep in NY. Its been 23 days, the plague has spread to other cities, and we get some shots of people running about, some fires, and military vehicles, and personnel. Its good that the military has gotten involved but they have their own agenda which doesn’t seem to involve wiping out the vampires, but only containing them.

The Navy Seals are working with Fet, who is their guide around the underground places of NY. I think that’s an excellent use for him, and he is still one of my favorite characters, but he doesn’t work-work with them. He’s  in contact with the Seals by radio, so you know they’re expendable. Like a lot of military personnel in movies they are overconfident. They do make a point of stating that they should be careful not to get any fluids on them, as the fluids from the vampires contain the worm infection, but none of them are wearing contamination gear, even though there’s fluid flying all over the place, when they shoot the vampires.

So, its especially eye-rolling watching Eph get into a fistfight with one of the vampires later in the episode. If you’re trying not to get infected with the worms, fist-fighting the vampires is not the way to stay uninfected. (Yet, Eph does remain so.) Eph fighting in an abandoned parking garage, while trying to steal gas, is one of the better action scenes in this episode, though. He spends a lot of time running around alone as if he were daring the vampires to attack him. Anyway between running about gathering up supplies, and drinking, he works on his bio-weapon against the vampires, a bio-weapon which is beginning to be less effective as the vampires evolve into something else.

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I would prefer that he worked out some kind of inoculation against the infection, instead. That seems like it would be easier to accomplish than killing the vampires one by one, or making them sick. Perhaps a combination of both, so that when they bite people, the people don’t become infected, and make the vampire sick too, but I’m not writing this show, so that idea is gonna die in its infancy.

The show is still taking a pretty casual attitude towards the apocalypse, even though the season has been shortened to just ten episodes. On the other hand, this particular episode was fairly tight, there wasn’t a lot of filler, and we didn’t have to spend any time on Dutch’s boring-ass social problems. We’re introduced to the characters again, find out where they are and get some idea of the problems that will beset them at some point during the season. The trailers for the rest of the season look great, but I have it on good authority that the next two episodes are just as casual in their approach as usual.

We got to see Kelly and Zach interacting. Yes, Zach is still awful, so there’s some consistency there. Now that’s he’s with his Mom, he’s begun whining about his Dad, but at least there’s less of him. Eventually, Eph does get a visit from Kelly, who tries to bargain with him for The Occido Lumen in exchange for their son. There’s a brief appearance by Eichorst baiting a Navy Seals team into following him into an abandoned church, which I could see was a trap as soon as Fet mentioned that it was an abandoned church.

Setrakian and Quinlan teamed up at the end of season two and we get some scenes of Setrakian reading The Lumen and talking about how we aren’t going to get any action scenes out of him this season because he’s got reading to do, while Quinlan looks on impatiently. Quinlan goes to visit the vampire authorities in order to have something to do in this episode. I still think its hilarious how everyone else is deathly afraid of the authorities, but Quin acts like he’s having a friendly conversation with his uncles, or something. He’s totally not scared of them.

The councilwoman, Ferraldo is as spunky as ever. She seems to care deeply about her city and is trying really hard to convince people outside of it, that it needs to be saved. If only politicians acted like her in the real world.  I could’ve done without some of the jingoistic dialogue and cheer-leading by the citizens of NY yelling “NY Strong!” at each other. That was deeply cheesy and they sounded like NY cavemen.

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A lot of information is imparted during the episode, while almost none of it is shown. Its mostly characters talking about how bad things are. This plague is supposed to be a countrywide thing but the show only seems to have enough budget to show snippets of the carnage, and I wish we could get a better overview of what was going on in other cities. We see some fires in the distance and there are lots of sirens. So basically, a louder, smokier version of present day NY city.

One way the show conveyed how dire things have become is when Eph goes to trade medicine for food on the streets. The quarantine of NY mostly just caused a supply shortage, so the citizens have set up a brisk trade market of supplies.

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Gus is back home and trying desperately to save his  mother from her vampiric condition. Even going so far as to give her his own blood. He can’t save her and he knows it, but he tries anyway. He’s as devastated by his loss as Eph and I wished the writers had shown more of that last season. As it stands, Eph barely mentions the death of Nora.

Well, with a shorter season, the plot will have to move forward, and we won’t have much time to watch Gus trying to feed his mom for five episodes, or Setrakian reading until episode nine.

So, while not a bad episode, the show really has not changed too much from the rather casual management of the apocalypse of last season either. The action scenes are always well done, when we can get them, but once again, the acting and dialogue need some help. At least there’s a lot less Zach, and that is a blessing.

The Strain : Quick and Painless

Okay, this episode was slightly more on point this week. There was no Gus and no Ancients, but it neatly picks up where last episode left off, and there was some character movement with Ephraim, Fet and a couple others. Also, a new character was introduced that I was greatly looking forward to.

Under Councilwoman Faraldo, the police go from door to door looking for vampires and the sick. They do not, unfortunately, know about the Feelers, and we finally get to see those, in real action, when they attack some cops. They’re fast and lethal and they ramp the Vampocalypse up a notch. These ones in the apartment building must be on holiday from Kellyvamp. I know I don’t trust her around them, anymore, as I keep thinking she’s going to twist another one of their heads off.

Eph visits a niteclub, which I guess are still open for business, to get fake IDs, so he can go to DC. The forger recognizes him and urges him to change his physical appearance, too.

Setrakian visits a fence, I guess, (I’m not up on my underworld terminology here, despite whatever stereotypes exist about PoC), to procure the Occido Lumen for him. The roughs  try to rough him up but his cane sword changes their mind about that. Have I mentioned  how totally badass Setrakian is? And that it is not a good idea to underestimate him?

Eph makes plans with Nora to go to DC , with Zack. Zack is still a first-class, self involved, navel gazing, self pitying snot, so at least there’s some  consistency.  Nora throws cold water on Eph again, but actually does it in style, this time, as she makes a great argument for Zack staying behind with her. Eph needs to be fast and loose, like a  cheetah, and she and Zack will only slow him down.

Dutch stomps into this touching moment, to inform them all, that Fet has been arrested. Nora thinks she should go along, to keep Dutch out of jail, and puts her foot down about Zack. Good for her. I like it when she shows some backbone even though, sometimes, the writers forget she has one.

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Eph decides to baldify himself and Corey Stoll looks so much better without that roofrack perching on his head. Oddly, he looks a much more interesting character. I guess the actor must have been getting tired of wearing that raccoon, too. I like it. Zack is impressed and grudgingly hugs his father goodbye. Zack is a big poopyhead.

I guess Zack has to take the place of the “Killjoy Wife” trope that’s always present in these types of things. Her job is to nag the hero for never being home, leaving her alone, losing their kid, working too much, etc. as it provides some easy drama, for a plot often centered around something else entirely. This is Zack’s  job.

Hero trying to save the world,  (and it’s always a man), chastise him for never being at home!

Faraldo is trying to reassure the public that they are winning  back their neighborhoods. Nora and Dutch show up and tell them how to do this correctly. The officials know about vampires but apparently had disregarded (or never knew about) using UV lamps to detect if someone is infected. Fet tells the cops about his silver grenades and Dutch’s silver sword. Once again Fet gets the best lines in the show. The writers must really like him because they give all the shit lines to Nora. The  cops, in turn, inform Fet about “the spider kids”. The Feelers. They’re down two men and DuFet volunteers to help.

Eph manages to get on the train, while posing as a member of the CDC.

Dutch/Fet and the police go back to the apartment complex to finish off the vampires there. It’s  one of  the more  exciting parts of the show, especially when Fet drops a silver grenade into a pack of vamps, in an elevator shaft, and Dutch kicks some vampire ass with that very nice saber she’s been wearing, and yeah, I want it. I’d just wave it at  any people (patrons, co-workers), who walk up to my desk, to ask me questions, at work. If they are persistent, their questions shall be answered!

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Eph spends most of his time running back and forth, on the train,  trying not to be recognized by some guy he knows.

Nora shows Faraldo  how to determine if  someone is infected, using the UV lamp. The  councilwoman’s nephew shows as being infected and Nora has to explain, that by the time you can see the worms, the body is probably riddled with them, in places the UV lamp can’t expose. This is one of the most horrifying thing the show has ever presented because of what it implies. The medical officials know nothing. They’ve been kept in the dark about everything. And the sad thing is that they would have had the answers if Eph hadn’t been railroaded. But I guess that was the point of it all.

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Faraldo makes the decision to kill her nephew, rather than let him turn, but is unable to do the deed herself. Nora does it for her. They both really sell it and it’s touching and emphasizes the real toll of  The Master’s “Try to Take Over The World”, endgame.

Fitzwilliam decides to join Setrakian’s team. Hopefully, he’s not a plant of some kind because, otherwise, I wonder who got fridged to change his mind?

Eph confronts one of the government officials who sold him out first season, but I don’t trust that man, and apparently, neither does Eph, who beats the shit out of him, and then throws him off the train. Yay!  This will probably bite Eph in the ass later, though.

The officious prick, who tried to snitch on him, tries to make the argument that Eph is on the wrong side, failing to realize that there is no right side. If the Master has his way, nobody gets out of any of this alive. (Everyone will be vampires and under his thumb, except for the independent vampires who will, in all likelihood go to war against the Master. I’d love to see that movie, btw.)

Palmer and his secretary Coco, go to dinner. I’m noping the fuck out of this whole scene! It’s too disgusting to watch. I hate this character, , I hate Coco the Dummy, (who is  attracted to Palmer’s power), and there’s shit  on fire, in plain view of his condominium windows, while the two of them dance. Ugh! Talk about fiddling while Rome burns. I can’t help but think that’s the reason the writers put that scene in here.

Eph’s murder of the official does come back to haunt him. As he tries to make his escape, he sees people are looking for his victim. There was blood. Now, there will be repercussions.

A new character is introduced from the books. Quinlan. He’s like Vaun but younger (he’s not as deformed) and, I hope, just as bad ass. In the book he had very specific ties to the Master. The only other black woman I’ve seen, since season one, is his driver.

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This show has developed a troubling trend of showing black people  as only servants or criminals.  Fitzwilliam was Palmer’s manservant, there was a black maid earlier, and Regina King (of all people!) played an assistant to Bolivar, in season one. And then there are the criminals that Setrakian had dealings with tonight. The show needs to cut that shit out.

Yeah okay, I think the Mayor is black. But he’s in collusion with Palmer,  so that does not speak well of him. Oh, well! I guess I should be grateful that a Hispanic woman is one of the heroes.

As far as this being a casual apocalypse…it still is, but I’m actually not very bothered by that. In any calamity the people who have the most money, are going to be the people least affected by what’s going on, so when we see Palmer going to work and dinner, that makes sense to me. I suspect that the vast majority of the infected come from the poor and working class, so that all or most, of the people shown on the show would notice, is that a lot of their workers didn’t come into work that day.

If some kind of apocalypse started in some poor or working class neighborhood, somewhere in America, most of the surrounding areas wouldn’t know about it, unless and until, it directly hit them. Imagine if the media tried to tell you vampires were running around. Would you believe it? Some people would. I suspect, most people wouldn’t, though and just do what they usually do. Go to work, hang out with friends at the club, etc.

Theres no real communication going on since Dutch broke the Interwebs (WTF!), so information is sporadic, since the corrupt officials are controlling what the media gets told. For all anybody knows, there’s people attacking and rioting in the streets because there’s  an infection going around, rather those people being the source of the infection.

Some people know the truth. Some people suspect it, but don’t care , as it hasn’t impacted them yet, and some hear it of it, but are willfully denying it.

For example, for decades, black people have been trying to tell whoever would listen about police brutality and have pretty much gotten the above reactions from the rest of America. So it’s not outside the realm of possibility for an entire contingent of the country to be experiencing one version of the world, while dismissing experiences that are not theirs.

The Vampire Apocalypse!

Motto: Not that different from everyday life.

The Strain: The Silver Angel.

Okay, I might have to stop watching this series, if it doesn’t improve. The past week I haven’t been able to remember the name of a single casual acquaintance and I blame this show for destroying those memories. If this keeps up, by the end of the season, I will have the brain of a bowl of chocolate pudding. Likable but nutritionally useless.

We’re  only four episodes into the new season,  but I have noticed a distinct downturn in the quality of the series, since the first one. I don’t like to hate-watch a show, but I may have to, as a warning to others. (Once I’m a human pudding you guys can donate to my medical care.)

Well anyway I hope to get some answers to some of the questions presented last week, if the writers remember what they wrote.

An old overweight wrestler, Angel, is watching one of his old movies during his work break, at a family owned diner.I wonder if this is a new player in the fight against the vampires? If so, then this show has already jumped the shark by adding Mexican wrestlers, and hasn’t even hit fifty episodes yet.

Fet, Eph and Nora are  delivering their infected  vamp to the streets. But instead of running off to the subway, the vamp decides to do a little sightseeing. Actually, its just going off to a place it used to know. While tracking the vampire they are all attacked by some  free-range vamps, who do not know its almost morning.  Why are the vampires in the asylum asleep already, while others are still running around? Are the loose vamps cleaning up for the night? Running late? And why do the trio have to follow the vampire around on foot? Why didn’t they  tag it with a radio collar or something so they can track where it goes? That way they don’t have to run around trying to find it later.

There are more background sirens as Gus strolls through the neighborhood. Apparently, he just left the Spec Ops vamps to die and is just wandering around. What’s he going to do now? Eat, I guess. He stops in at Angel’s diner.

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Setrakian is studying, when Dutch comes to see him, about Palmer. She suggests they go see Fitzwilliam,  Palmer’s former assistant, now on Staten Island, with his brother.

Setrakian goes into flashback mode to the first time he met Palmer and Fitzwilliam. Palmer meets Eichorst for the first time, in this flashback, while searching a monastery,  for the Occido Lumen. The monastery is attacked by vampires and Setrakian is kicking ass with his sword came. Why do vampires spend time  hissing instead of biting? Eichorst suborns Palmer, who stops hunting for the book and throws his lot in with him.

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Gus goes back to his mother’s apartment. She is still there because he didn’t kill her when he first found her body, and he doesn’t want to kill her now. The Master speaks to him, through her, and apparently, felt it was necessary to  taunt Gus into joining his other enemies.  Sardu, like Palmer, is an arrogant tool.

This show is about forty minutes long, We are halfway through this episode and no questions have been answered from last week. On the other hand, there’s no Kellyvampmom.

Yet.

Best line of the evening, uttered by Vasiliy : Fet need food!

Where’s Zack, while everyone is out running around outide, and leaving him all alone, so he can run off and find his Mom, like he did in last week’s episode, but the writers have apparently forgotten all about that, too?

Oh, there he is! Jeebus , but  I despise this child and his hostile, accusatory interrogation of his father, every time Eph wanders into his orbit!. No hiya doing, Dad, or nothing. The two of them go out to a batting range, so Eph can pretend to be a Dad and Zack can be sullen. They couldn’t do that indoors, I guess.

The councilwoman is on TV promising to save NY by instituting marshal law.

THE STRAIN --
THE STRAIN — “The Silver Angel” — Episode 204 (Airs August 2, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Jack Kesy as Bolivar. CR: Michael Gibson/FX

Palmer  has orchestrated a meeting with some bankers,  and the bankers are eaten by vampires on their way out of the building, also orchestrated by Palmer and Bolivar. I have mixed feelings about the whole event. Palmer’s ambition is the most terrifying thing in the entire episode. Just how far is he trying to go with this deal? What’s frightening is  this is only his first salvo, in the destruction of the country, not just NY.

On the other hand, YAY! Bankers getting eaten! That was  one of the funniest events this season.

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The Fitzwilliams meet with Setrakian, who tries to talk him into joining their team. He should reconsider, because when Palmer remembers how he walked out on him, he’s going to make a play to take him out. Yep! One of the Fitzwilliams is gonna die to further the other one’s story and get that one into the game. That is, if the writers remember they are in the show. I certainly hope the writers have some kind of endgame for all these plot threads they keep introducing.

Gus visits the diner again. Flirting with the serving girl, he is confronted by Angel. He figures out that Angel is the Silver Angel from the movies. What does this plot line have to do with the rest of the show, if Angel doesn’t join in to save NY? We are getting resolutions and callbacks from season one,  so I expect all my questions will be answered next season, maybe.

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Eph and Nora go check on their experiment, and they really should have tagged that vamp with a transmitter or something, because running around in the dark, trying to find the vampires who were infected, is just plain stupid and Fet, correctly, nopes the fuck out of that whole scenario and goes off to blow up the subway, which was his original plan before he got sidetracked by Dutch-angst and sex. What are the chances we can get a show with just Fet, Setrakian, Fitzwilliam and that one councilwoman, kicking vampire ass in NY?

And this is where Eph and Nora should’ve taken into account that whole ‘the Master can see and hear through his host bodies’ thing,  as Sardu quarantines the infected vampires, by making the host bodies kill themselves. This does make the two of them happy because The Master realizes the infection is an actual threat. They do need an infection that works fast enough, that he can’t simply quarantine the infection, by separating out the infected vampires. Yet doesn’t work so fast that it kills the infected vampires before they can pass it on.( I didn’t learn this from this show, though. I learned it playing Plague Inc, where I successfully destroyed the entire population of the world, with the Black Plague.)

Fet attempts to blow up the subway.Where did he get dynamite? The same place everyone picked up those swords, they’re all waving around? I know people think swords are not readily available in American society but that’s not true. You can walk into any of those little Asian bodegas, in the ‘hood, and buy a fake one, along with some very real  ninja throwing stars.

Fet gets attacked by …cops? Militiamen? Hell if I know. They have walkies but no badges.  He does successfully blow up the underground vampire route into the neighborhood before getting arrested. Fet is on point tonight. His scenes are hilarious and the  most entertaining part of the show. He’s also the only one who knows what type of show he’s in, it seems. I think Corey Stoll thinks he’s in some kind of Lifetime Channel tearjerker, though.

Eph  and Nora discuss going to DC because of some connections Eph has. Why hasn’t he ever mentioned or tried to use them before? I deeply suspect its because the writers are just making up his story as they go. Nora poo poos his idea, because that’s her purpose on the show, to throw cold water on people.

Yep! Zack  has shitty  taste in music too.  I should have guessed.

Kelly and The  Feelers  put in an appearance at the last minute, staking out the batting range where Eph and Zack got subjected to some flashbacks, earlier. I can see that the writers are really trying to get us to care about the relationship between Zack and Eph, but these two are so unlikable, that it’s impossible. Since the writers are trying so hard to get us to care about them I can only assume that Kellyvamp is successful in grabbing  her boy, and turning him into a vampire, which will be the impetus Eph will need to stop drinking, and fully commit himself to stopping the vampire menace.

<Sigh> Yeah, alright then.

The Strain: By Any Means

HOLY CRAP! Was this episode bad!

Now normally, I don’t get negative on this site. We are all about the “squee” here at Chez Geek, hence the name. The closest I get is snarky, but from time to time, giving a bad review is unavoidable, and this week’s episode was awful . I can think of only one moment I truly enjoyed. I think I was cheering at my screen and I’ll get to that point in a moment. But it’s episodes like this one, that make me contemplate, never watching this show again. If there’s another episode like this one, I’m going to give serious thought to  pretending it didn’t happen.

So, lets get the least interesting portion of our evening out of the way-Kelly Goodweather’s campaign to turn her son into a vampire, by using some blind child vampires called Feelers. They’re blind, so they could  just as easily been called Smellers or Listeners or something, because that’s how it looks like they’re navigating the world. They scuttle around on their hands and knees and they only touch the floor and don’t have whiskers, so I don’t know where the name Feelers comes from. Anyway, Kelly kills one of them and I’m not sure if its because she thought she had one too many, to teach them who is top dog in this pack, or because she thought it was defective. I found their glowing red eyeballs distracting and kept laughing every time they flashed their “disco eyes”.Apart from that, this particular subplot is uninteresting, but I soldiered through it because, according to the books, it will be important later.

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Then we get Eichorst, anticipating being the  Master’s new vessel, when the old body dies. The Rock musician, from first season, who was among the first of the transformed, puts in an appearance, and it was kind of nice seeing him again. I had wondered what happened to him. He does not appear to be one of the mindless foot soldiers, that’s enslaved to The Master. He seems to have his own thoughts and those thoughts appear to be about taking Eichorst’s place at the Master’s side. I hope he gets to be the new Master. For one thing, he looks way cooler than the current Master as he’s still wearing the black lipstick and manscara, from when he was human. I don’t think that’s what will happen, because of Ms. Ex-Goodweather’s  future actions, but I can hope.

Setrakian gets caught in a flashback sequence, involving a younger version of himself, wearing a truly awful fake beard ,that I could not stop staring at (and laughing), meeting Eldridge Palmer for the first time and chasing after Sardu’s cane. No, seriously, he chases the guy who owns the cane through the streets of Prague, Warsaw or wherever and through several hotels.

See, one factor  I use, when considering whether or not an episode is any good, is the amount of distracting thoughts I have, while stuff is happening on screen. During the chase, the guy that  Setrakian is chasing, knocks over a bellboy who is pushing a huge luggage cart and he falls down and loses the cane, which Setrakian runs over and picks up, while the guy escapes, and all I could think was why doesn’t he help that poor bellboy pick up that massive luggage cart that he helped knock over. I guess this was in lieu of a fruit stand, though, and those fruit stand guys never get help picking up their stuff when it gets knocked over in chase sequences, either.

At one point they run through a grand dining room and I remember yelling encouraging stuff to them like “Okay! Now knock over one of the dining room tables!” And they didn’t do that and I felt deeply disappointed.

I consider that sort of behavior to be positive engagement, but it can also be seen as a sign, that the plot is less than compelling.

A minor or major McGuffin, is the special book that Setrakian is looking for, called The Occido Lumen, that may contain information about how to kill The Master. There are some more flashbacks involving Palmer hiring Setrakian to find the book for him. Later on, in the show, he meets Palmer, who is acting his usual cocky asshole self and  Setrakian teases him with the idea that he’s close to finding the book and Palmer looks like he just smelled a fart.

We also get also get some Dutch/ Fet action. Fet has decided to clear the neighborhood of vampires and vamp-proof the buildings, so the two of them break into the local rec center, and take out the vampires there, using silver dust.  Being covered in silver dust,  obviously demands, that they immediately get naked and go swimming. I lost interest after I got a good, long look at Fet’s naked ass, and wandered away from the TV, so I have no idea if they got it on or not and mostly don’t care. I’m not going to rewatch to find out.

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I really like Fet, and his ass muscles were truly impressive, but I really don’t want to watch him make out with  mannequin-girl. I keep trying to like Dutch. I want to like her because she’s snarky , and because she broke the internet (HA!) but that’s all she’s got in the personality department. There’s just no there there. At some point, the writers are going to have to kill her, or give her something to do besides being Fet’s lovely assistant. I strongly suspect, though, that Dutch is going to get fridged.

Eph and Nora torture that old couple that they found at the storage lockers and Nora angsts over doing it. At least they did the right thing and informed the couple that they were dying, that they would become vampires and they were going to do experiments on their bodies. Nora was back to her usual whinging behavior and Setrakian had to set her straight about what a good woman she was.

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You can tell that Setrakian has no patience with all these young people and their emotional dithering. He is a flatly pragmatic person. Part of it is just being old. I know this because, as I’ve gotten older, I have less and less patience with the emotional wankery of the young , too. Another part of it, is that he’s been through so much pain and grief, that he simply doesn’t understand what Nora is whining about. As he says, he’ss seen people be evil just for fun, so her fibrillations over whether or not she’s evil, don’t register to him as an actual problem.

Really Nora, you’ve got more pressing concerns, like trying to stop a vampire plague from taking over the world.

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At the top of the episode, I cheered during a meeting of  the mayor and various district heads, who are discussing the ongoing crisis. Once again, no one wants to mention exactly what that crisis is, except for one woman, whose district is being overrun by vampires. She is quick to name what’s happening and  asks some serious questions like, “Where are the National Guardsmen everyone keeps saying are out in force, but only really seem to be protecting City Hall? And why are the infected being warehoused, instead of being put-down?” She’s blunt and feisty and can tell that the other officials are trying to bamboozle her. She says if they don’t handle it, the people in her district will. I liked her. I cheered when she walked out, in the middle of the meeting, but I now suspect, she will end up on somebody’s death list.

The most annoying moment in this episode, is when Eph’s son wanders in from wherever he’s been just  sitting, sleeping or whatever and, once again, harangues his father about what he’s doing wrong. I guess that’s his purpose now that Nora has given up that game, because really, what does the boy do all day?They’e at Setrakian’s place, so I know hes not playing video games, or talking to his friends on the phone. He wanders in, shits on his Dad, then wanders  back out again, after Eph cops an attitude. WTF? I really wanted for Eph to go off on the boy and drop kick his ass into another plot, that only  involves him being present on paper.

Here’s me, offering major encouragement to Kelly VampMom, to please hurry up and  come eat her child!

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The second most annoying moment is when Palmer, still flirting with his real estate agent, whom he has hired to write speeches for him, has decided to create a series of depots, for people having trouble procuring food and other essentials, during the “crisis”. He gives a speech about how NY will come back from “this” and they take care of their own, pablum, which he didn’t write. His actual plan involves taking down the participants personal information in a kind of reverse Vampire Holocaust. I’m pretty sure all these people will be personally visited by the vampires later, in this much more efficient system, which I guess beats running around, breaking into random buildings and eating the inhabitants, which is what they’ve been doing.

I guess Palmer doesn’t feel the Vampocalypse is happening fast enough and needs more assistance.
Palmer is such a smug bastard that he has totally forgotten that he’s actually expendable. He really believes he’s indispensable to The Master and I’ll be glad, when he realizes, just how shafted he’s about to be.  Setrakian  confronts him after the speech and when Palmer sends his goons after Setrakian to kill him, Fet proves, once again, what a complete and utter badass he is, by blowing up the place,  as a distraction for Setrakian’s escape.

Fet really cares about the old man, even though Setrakian tries really hard not to be close to anybody, and its really cute how he worries if Setrakian is eating properly.I have it on good authority that off screen, the two actors are very close friends and you can kind of see that onscreen, even though Setrakian is supposed to be a grump.

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So basically, there was no Master. No Special Ops vampires or Gus. All of the elements that make this show worth watching, were missing and I had to spend the evening with the show’s  least likable cast members. Most especially Zack, who is almost as horrible an actor, as the little boy who played Baby Vader. We didn’t even get any good vampire action, of random people, being attacked, in their homes and streets. This is one of those insidious apolcaypses, where you see a lot of smoke, and hear sirens everywhere, but there are no people on the streets.. The people from the suburbs are still showing up for class and work, but all the local people are hunkered down in their homes, without any food.

This is one of those episodes that’s basically a bridge to another, better episode. Every series has several per season and I can comfortably erase this one from the DVR. I’m not going t be hankering for a rewatch on this one, unless its to laugh some more at Setrakian’s false beard or hate-watch Zack.

The Strain Season Two: BK, NY

This is a short  primer for those who haven’t watched the first season, which can be watched on Hulu:

An old European vampire named Sardu, and his henchman Eichorn, begin their conquest of NY, aided by a dying corporate wannabe, named Palmer, who thinks  he will gain immortality, if he does the Masters bidding.

Ephraim Goodweather, (one of those smart, dumb people you just want to smack), Nora Martinez,( another dumb smart person, who mostly looks worried and was having an affair with Ephraim),  Abraham Setrakian,(who has met The Master before, in an encampment, during the war), and Vasiliy Fet, (who is one of my favorite characters, because he seems smarter than both Nora and Ephraim put together and has useful skills), are the only people who feel they can stop the plague from spreading, by stopping the master vampire and destroying the ones he created. Ephraims ex wife, now a vampire favorite of the master, is after their son, Zack.

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Unknown to them, is group of vampires, headed by Vaun, who work for a coalition of Elder vampires, and have recruited a human slayer, Augustin Elizalde, to take down the wayward vampire, who has disrupted their covenant.

That is the much simplified version of season one and coincides mostly with the first book in the trilogy.

Okay, this is going to be a long one because the show lasted about 60 to 70 minutes

Let’s ride.

Abraham Setrakian is having the flashbacks. He steps wayback to his childhood, with his Grandmaw, telling him the story of how Sardu became a vampire. He was a giant of a man, who loved children, (this is something that plays out later), and got violated by having a vampire vomit some worms into his mouth, while out hunting a Black wolf to cure his gigantism. Yep! All the worms, it looks like. After which he fed on children and no one ever saw him in the daytime, of course.

Then  Abe flashbacks to the more recent past to when he and Ephraim cornered the Master on a rooftop, last season, and the vampire was able to withstand daylight long enough to get away.

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You have to get, that while Abe is daydreaming about the past, he’s just wandering around in the streets of NY. He doesn’t actually appear to be looking for Sardu, but I guess he is because when he reaches the subway, he heads down into some untrafficked areas. That is a bad idea because he gets ‘napped by Vaun and the Special Ops Vampires, which is quite possibly the coolest shit ever put on TV, outside of Gullermo Del Toro’s Blade II, where that idea must have sprang from. I’d watch an entire show about these guys, alone.

Vaun takes him to visit Gus and The Elders,(which is a great name for a Rock band,) who explain far too much about themselves. There are only seven of them and they are a collective, like The Borg, but Sardu, used his Jedi Mind Tricks to break away from the group, and has gone rogue. They want to make a deal with Setrakian and Gus to hunt down Sardu and when they find him, alert them to his location.

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Abe agrees to this, but Hell, I would too, after they threatened to kill me for knowing too much about them, which makes no sense because they could have just kept their mouths shut and let Abe go on his merry, daydreaming way. I would definitely alert them to his location, but only after killing him. (Hey! Here’s the body of your boy!)

I  would certainly never voluntarily agree to meet with them again. Especially after the demonstration of their feeding techniques on some random naked guy in chains, which Abe takes great care to remind Gus what he’s watching. You know the story. Those who make deals with the devil usually end up on the  business end of his pitchfork.

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Fet and Dutch are trying to secure his residence against vampires. Actually it’s only Fet who knows what he’s doing. Dutch has no idea. She’s just doing whatever Fet asks her to do, while Eph gets drunk and Nora gives him the side eye. Fet says his plan is to eventually fortify the entire neighborhood against vampire incursions.

After a while, Eph goes upstairs and argues with Zack about his Mom. Can I just state how much I hate this child, and how much  I’d love for his mother to hurry up and find him and eat him quickly? I’m sure he’ll be a much less annoying character because he’ll be mute.

Fet gets worried about Abe and decides to go out and find him and Dutch gets one of the best lines of the episode when she describes Abe as a Samurai sword- wielding geriatric.

Abe comes back but doesn’t tell anyone about his meeting with Vaun and the Ancients.This is probably going to come back and bite someone in the ass later. Literally! He asks Fet and Eph to come with him to fetch something from an old storage locker.

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In the meantime, Palmer and Eichorn are buying a building and giving press conferences.Palmer ,who has gotten his health, after being sickly his entire life, is getting cocky and talking smack to Eichorn, who just smiles gently, while trying to warn him that he should probably not show his ass. Palmer has forgotten the first rule of being a traitor. After the people you work for have accomplished their goals, and your usefulness is over, you will be the first one eaten, under the new regime. That’s what I would do. After all, if you’ll betray one group of people you might betray me, too, and that needs nipping.

Palmer also takes the time to flirt shamelessly with the real estate agent, who is maybe half his age and I’d just like to say, “EEEWWW! Palmer is a disgusting asshole and this little meet-cute between him and this young lady is so boring and trite, that even Eichorn couldn’t stand there and watch it. He just wanders off, while they eyeball each other.At any rate, I feel sure Eichorn has plans for the young lady. Guess whose going to be eaten by vampires next? Hopefully it’s soon, so she won’t be subjected to any more flirtation from Palmer.

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None of the press and officials seem especially perturbed that vampires are running about. In fact, most of them are being especially careful never to mention the term at all. Everyone keeps making vague reference to “the crisis”, but no one will say exactly what that crisis is. And the National Guard gets a mention once. I think the press and politicians are still trying to make the people of NY think these are still just riots.

This does seem to be a rather lazy apocalypse, though.  There seems to be no particular urgency to anyone’s behavior, including Fet, Nora and Eph. At least not yet. I sort of understand that the creators of the show are not trying to show a complete breakdown that happens in a few short hours, but a slow buildup to the crash, instead. I can get that but it does make for some slow watching.

For example, children are still taking classes. There’s a roomful of blind students who are being told they are about to evacuate out of the city, but their transport gets hijacked by Eichorn, who takes them to Sardu, to implement the next stage of his plan, because although he was only in  the sunlight for a few minutes, he was very badly burned and he’s dying.

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As soon as I saw the class full of blind children, I just knew that wasn’t going to end well. They all get turned into some new form of vampire. Eichorn goes to awaken Zack’s mother, gives her a little of her mind back, and sets her to babysit the these new, blind vampires.

Ephraim and Nora make plans to try to stop the Vampocalypse by studying vampire physiology. Maybe creating some kind of immunity for humans while destroying them as they feed.  It’s not a bad idea but their attitude still seems rather leisurely, to me. I think these characters really need to rub some funk on it and step up the pace. At least panic a little bit or something. This is the calmest apocalypse I’ve ever watched.

Eph and Nora get attacked in the lab and Nora takes out several with her new found vampire slaying skills. I like her now that she whines less than she did in the first season.Nora has definitely been born-again hard, since the death of her mother. Yeah, that’ll do it.

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Everyone gets ready for their run to the storage lockers, where Setrakian can’t remember the number of his locker, so they just break into random lockers. Or rather Fet does because he’s their tool-man.They discover an elderly couple in one of the lockers before they all get attacked by vampires. The elderly couple gets bitten but our group comes through clean, especially Nora who turns into a sword-swinging badass. I wonder where she picked up these new skills.

It’s really nice to see a Latina in a genre TV show because it’s so rare that that they get to star in such things and I hope she doesn’t die soon, so they can swap her out for another, because, of course, there can be only one!

I have to say I love the vampires on this show. They’re like a cross between zombies and vampires. The worms and the tentacles are truly disgusting, even though the show doesn’t actually depict the vampires from the books, completely. The ones in the books liked to piss plasma all over everything. I guess you can’t show that on TV.

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The show isn’t actually scary (its been a long while since anything on TV scared me), but it is suspenseful enough and the action scenes are very well done. It’s just the stuff that happens between the action scenes that gets tiresome.

The previews for the  rest of the season had a lot more action in them, so I’m looking forward to the next few weeks.

So Stay Tuned!

ETA:  Palmer’s arch-nemesis, throughout the episode, is actually named Eichorst not Eichorn. Not that that makes the slightest difference to the plot.