Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Strain Season 1 Episode # 8 "Creatures of the Night" - Recap and Review

David Bradley as Jewish Holocaust survivor and pawn shop owner Abraham Setrakian in the train station in The Strain Season 1 Episode 8 Creatures of the Night

This post discusses the episode in detail. Readers yet to watch the episode are recommended to skip it, if they wish to avoid spoilers.

At the end of the previous episode, Thomas Eichorst (Richard Sammel) is about to kill Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley), when he was shot in the leg by Dr Eph Goodweather (Corey Stoll)/ Dr Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro). The Strigoi makes good his escape, but is weakened by his injury.

Abraham, Eph, Nora and Jim Kent (Sean Astin) break into a facility to acquire some supplies. They run into Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand), who beat them to the punch and has been helping himself already.

The gang heads to a store to buy some UV lamps. They come under attack by a horde of vampires. Dutch Velders (Ruta Gedmintus), the internet hacker hired by Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde) also happens to be in the same store with her friend.

Mia Maestro as Dr. Nora Martinez in the store in The Strain Season 1 Episode 8 Creatures of the Night

A delivery guy and Dutch's friend try to flee and are killed. Jim gets infected by a vampire. Eph and Nora remove the worm from inside Jim and destroy it. But it is too late and Vasiliy shoots Jim dead to prevent his transformation.

The group makes its escape in a delivery truck.

This is hands down the most interesting episode so far. 

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Vasiliy referring to the store worker Hassan as Apu” was a nice reference to The Simpsons. As readers familiar with the long running FOX show would be aware, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon is the owner of the convenience store in Springfield. Guillermo del Toro is a fan of the show and has created an opening for a Simpsons episode which can be viewed below:


We get to see some hardcore and non-stop action. The focus of the episode was on the vampires/Strigoi. We learn that each vampire is connected to the Master. The Master commands them and can communicate through them. The Strigoi reach their full maturity after about a month.

Then, there are the Chosen ones like Thomas Eichorst, who are more advanced and can retain their original appearance.

The discussion among the group about deciding the fate of the infected Jim shows the different approaches taken by Abraham and Vasiliy vs Eph and Nora. While the former two are practical and do whatever is necessary to ensure their survival, the two doctors tend to be emotional. 

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Image Sources: FX Networks, DelToroFilms.com

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Strain Season 1 Episode # 5 "Runaways" - Recap

Corey Stoll and David Bradley as Dr. Ephraim Eph Goodweather and Abraham Setrakian about to kill infected Ansel Barbour in The Strain Runaways

Ruby Wain (Regina King) calls in Dr. Evanston, an urologist to take care of her client, goth celebrity Gabriel Bolivar's (Jack Kesy) medical problems. Gabe, under the control of The Master, attacks the doctor with his stinger and claims her to be Mine”. 

Ruby gets scared and sprains her leg, while fleeing the house. She calls someone and informs about the incident involving Gabe.

Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley) educates Dr Eph Goodweather (Corey Stoll) about The Master” and refers to him as Patient Zero/Strigoi (Romanian word for vampire).

Abraham explains about his experience in 1944. A much younger Abraham (Jim Watson), along with his bubbeh meiseh” grandmother (Kathleen Chalfant) and a friend, are taken to a concentration camp, under the control of Thomas Eichorst (Richard Sammel). Abraham and his friend are spared, after the camp guards learn that they are skilled carpenters.

Back to the present. Attorney Joan Luss (Leslie Hope) is getting more and more sick. The governess, Neeva (Kim Roberts) notices the subtle change in her employer when Joan stares at her daughter's neck with a strange look.

Mia Maestro as Dr. Nora Martinez in The Strain Season 1 Episode 5 Runaways

Dr Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) is informed about her mother, Mariela Martinez (Anne Betancourt) making yet another escape attempt from her institution. She is suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Eph and Abraham reach Ansel Barbour's (Nikolai Witschl) house, only to discover that his wife Ann-Marie Barbour (Alex Paxton-Beesley) has committed suicide by hanging from the roof.

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They carefully approach the shed and Eph shoots Ansel with his newly acquired nail gun, loaded with silver ammunition. Before decapitating Ansel, Abraham chants the following words: Sabia mea fredoneaza de argint”.

Back in the concentration camp, Abraham watches a mysterious stranger feed on a fellow prisoner. He confides the same to his friend, who advises him to stop looking for monsters.

Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde)'s doctor informs him that his body cannot endure any more organ transfers/operations. Eldritch replies that this will be the last operation to be performed on him.

Kevin Durand as big Russian rat exterminator Vasiliy Fet in The Strain Season 1 Episode 5 Runaways

Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand) notices the spike in rat related incidents and makes an investigation in the sewers and is pursued by a big horde of strigoi. He escapes through a manhole and the sunlight prevents the vampires from catching up to him. 

Jack Noon is hired by Ruby to clean up the mess created by Gabe's attack on Dr. Evanston. He becomes Gabe's next victim.

Neeva packs Joan's kids and takes them to her place to keep them safe from their mother.

Nora is forced to take her mother out of the institution after a vampire attack.

Corey Stoll and Daniel Kash as Dr. Ephraim Eph Goodweather and Dr. Everett Barnes, CDC Director in The Strain Season 1 Episode 5 Runaways

Eph goes to the CDC with the video evidence of the infected victims. He tries to convince his boss, Dr. Everett Barnes (Daniel Kash) to declare a quarantine. Jim Kent (Sean Astin) advises Eph to flee and helps him to escape. 

David Bradley's Abraham Setrakian is the most fleshed out character in the show. I liked his quote: Inaction is the greatest evil”. His interactions with Eph are the highlights of the episode.

Couple of scenes reminded me of other Guillermo del Toro efforts. In the concentration camp, young Abraham's friend makes the observation that they are already surrounded by monsters. This was similar to del Toro's Oscar winner Pan's Labyrinth, also set in the aftermath of a Spanish Civil War. The film's protagonist, Ofelia fantasizes about a faun and other mythic creatures while the merciless Captain Vidal inflicts cruelty around her in the real world.

Similarly, Vasiliy's escape from the strigoi through the manhole was reminiscent of a similar scene in Blade II, starring Wesley Snipes as the titular vampire hunter.

The episode felt disjointed and did not have the impact of a vampire show. The teaser for the next episode promises a lot of action. Hopefully, the next episode will be more effective.

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Image Sources: FX Networks, DelToroFilms.com

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Strain Season 1 Episode # 4 "It's Not for Everyone" - Recap and Review


Corey Stoll as Dr. Ephraim Eph Goodweather in The Strain Season 1 Episode 4 It's Not for Everyone

This post discusses the episode in detail. Readers yet to watch the episode are recommended to skip it, if they wish to avoid spoilers.

Dr Eph Goodweather (Corey Stoll), Dr Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) and Jim Kent (Sean Astin) discuss their options about what to do with Captain Redfern's (Jonathan Potts) body. Eph wants to perform an autopsy to figure out what is going on. Jim expresses his concern, but is overridden when Nora supports Eph.

Ann-Marie Barbour (Alex Paxton-Beesley) and Ansel Barbour (Nikolai Witschl) decide to move their kids to someplace else. Ansel declines Ann's offer to call on their family doctor Dr. Barrett, but insists to keep their family German shepherd pet, Gertie with him.

Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde) hires Dutch Velders (Ruta Gedmintus), an internet hacker to create a retaliation campaign against major corporations through an online group (Citizens for Liberty”). Dutch slows down/shuts downs internet servers and helps create an atmosphere of disinformation. It is also revealed that the individual murdered by Thomas Eichorst (Richard Sammel) was the CEO of Regis Air.

Mia Maestro as Dr. Nora Martinez in The Strain Season 1 Episode 4 It's Not for Everyone

Eph cuts open Redfern's body and removes the six foot long stinger. Jim confesses about his involvement in moving the coffin to Jim and Nora.

Ann finds Gertie dead with a big entrance wound to her throat. Ann hears noises from inside the shed. She is terrified when she meets a transformed Ansel. He begs and then scares her to run away and never return to him.

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Gus Elizalde (Miguel Gomez) returns the clock (stolen by his brother Crispin) to an unappreciative Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley). He steals a SUV and sells it for 800 USD to silver toothed Alonso Creem (Jamie Hector).

As Ann grieves over her dead dog, a cranky neighbour Trip Taylor (Darrin Baker) comes over and threatens her with calling the police about the constant noises from the shed. Ann is pissed off when she learns that Trip had previously beat Gertie. She tricks Trip into entering the shedj and Ansel promptly feeds on him.

Eldritch informs Secretary Maggie Pierson about a biological agent being let loose in the airplane and attempts to secure her help. In the midst of the conversation, he collapses.

Corey Stoll and David Bradley as Dr. Ephraim Eph Goodweather and Jewish holocaust survivor and pawn shop owner Abraham Setrakian in The Strain Season 1 Episode 4 It's not for Everyone

Jim and Nora rush to Emma Arnot's (Isabelle NĂ©lisse) house. Emma attacks them with the stinger and is killed by Abraham Setrakian. He also kills her transformed father, Gary Arnot (Steven McCarthy).

Nora is shocked by Abraham's actions and leaves them to do the rest of the work.

The episode closes as Abraham asks Eph to get the gasoline. 

David Bradley remains the best of the bunch. Miguel Gomez also gives an arresting performance as Gus. 

The episode continues to suffer from the same drawback: The narrative is weak. The constant shifting between the characters robs the show of a gripping momentum, that came across really well in the books. 

Guillermo del Toro does not seem to have his heart in place for this show. Perhaps, he is busy with other projects (“Crimson Peak”??). Most of the actors (with a few exceptions) seem to be just sleepwalking through their roles to collect the paycheck.

Trivia
  • The children's song “This Old Man can be heard playing in the scene, when Eph and Nora enter Emma Arnot's house.

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Image Sources: FX Networks, TheTVDen.com

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