Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Strain, Season 1, Episode 6: Occultation

An eclipse is coming up and people are getting rather excitable about it.

We see a fully vampiric Eichorst have a snack, just to remind us of what he is. The FBI pay Kelly a visit looking for Ephraim since he’s now wanted for all kinds of naughty bad things, including murder and corpse desecration. Ephraim is hiding and overhearing the agents questions his ex-wife and her new boyfriend.

Ephraim, who is surprisingly not smart for a CDC doctor, goes to see Kelly and his son once the FBI are gone. It’s a good thing the police don’t do things like watch the families of fugitives. Ephraim warns Kelly and Zack to get out of the city. Of course new boyfriend accuses him of drinking and Kelly is rather doubtful as well – I can understand not listening to the ranting man, but when said ranting man is a CDC doctor – yeah, better safe than sorry. And Kelly’s boyfriend has called the FBI. Ephraim is arrested, but still warns Kelly to run.

Afterwards, Kelly is not happy with Matt and suggests that maybe they should listen to the CDC doctor telling them to head for the hills and considers rethinking the whole relationship if Matt would step in and decide how to deal with things without her (I think the whole “guest” is harsh). Everyone gets their passive aggressive award.

Abraham continues his work – moving down the list to a house that was clearly in the middle of a wake for the dead passenger. He walks past the abandoned food, wine and tributes and goes to the basement – where the walls have blood stains. He finds a small pack of vampires but after killing the first one, he staggers back – his heart beating out of control. He struggles and drops his pills and has to retreat back into the sunlight while he catches his breath and calms down. He leaves, turning on the gas before he goes, leaving the lit candles to ignite it.

He gets a cab back to his shop, we have some more eclipse ominous foreshadowing, and he rather clumsily (and desperately, since he’s just seen that Ephraim has been arrested) tries to recruit the taxi driver.

Nora is in her house with her mother (who has completely forgotten the shenanigans of the night before) when Jim calls her with the news of Ephraim’s arrest. Which is when two suited men ring her bell – Nora stops her mother answering it and hurriedly packs a bag. They wander the streets with Nora worrying about the early darkness coming with the eclipse – she looks up Abraham’s number.

Rat catcher Vasiliy tells his fellow rat catchers, all of whom are commenting on the scary exodus of rats, about the vampires in the tunnels. He is not believed. He goes back to his office and finds it oddly deserted, the phones ringing unanswered. He checks the closet – where the lights do not work. He’s looking for poisons and finds his boss in mid-vampire transformation.  They struggle and fight and Vasiliy manages to open the blinds, frying the vampire. He also finds the secretary mid transformation and grimly opens the blinds on her before she can attack.

Vasiliy goes to see his Ukranian parents – and there’s a whole lot of tension between him and his dad. He tries to warn him to leave the city and that tension is overwhelming – he won’t listen. Vasiliy leaves, saying “I tried.”

Augustin is invited to meet with Eichorst – invited by a man with a gun and clear unwillingness to hear the word no. He and his friend is taken to meet Eichorst who has another job for him (destroying a body in a hospital). Augustin loses patience and he and his friend leave, speaking Spanish – which Eichorst also speaks. He threatens Augustin’s mother again, and Augustin hits him, repeatedly. And does little more than smudge his make up. Eichorst throws Augustin across the room and easily takes his friend’s gun. Eichorst expects them to follow his orders

They get in the car they were told about – driven by a very reluctant James. They get the body out no problem, but as they go for disposal the black tarp comes away and exposes the tentacle of the vampire body.

Back to Ephraim who is being uselessly questioned by the FBI who decides to punch him (just in case we didn’t know where our sympathies should lie. No, I don’t think the police are above hitting people, I do think they’re going to be leery of hitting wealthy CDC doctors). He keeps trying to convince them. They keep ignoring him. He finally resorts to offering to show them where bodies are on a pretext to take them to the vampires for proof.

Kelly, meanwhile – for those 3 people in the audience who actually care – is having drinks and venting with a friend about everything, she’s there to give frank advice and racist descriptions of Nora. But she does say that going to Vermont, having that weekend away isn’t a bad idea – giving her both reassurance in case Ephraim is right and showing Matt who’s boss. But when Kelly spends some time with Zach, she seems to decide to stay in the city

The eclipse happens and the sun is blocked, no sunlight at all. Ephraim and his FBI guards are stuck in the traffic when they see a man Ephraim identifies as the medical examiner who went missing – he’s a vampire. He grabs someone from their car and one of the FBI gets out to help (arsehole FBI guy decides saving members of the public from attack isn’t his job. He seems to have missed the point of his job). Ephraim tries to stop them, they don’t listen and both of them get tentacled (which I’m using instead of “bit”). The vampire then runs off

He gets his keys from the fallen FBI and tells the struggling man “I warned you.”

On the plus side, it looks like Matt got bitten as well.

Augustin and his friend, Felix walk through the dark streets and Felix can’t let go what he saw. They run into the medical examiner. They fight – and Felix gets a white worm on his hand. They try to rip the worm out – when they’re attacked and arrested by the police.

The eclipse ends and Ephraim knocks on Abraham’s security gates. Abraham lets him in and takes him to the basement where Nora and her grandmother are waiting. Abraham declares them both ready – and that he has a new plan.

And lo, we have turning point. This is the moment when all those excess characters finally get fuly involved in the plot and where the vampire threat starts to raise out from the sewers and the dark corners and we can begin to see the growing scale of it. It’s starting to pick up, the end is night, the tension is setting in and family drama is stepping back and only relevant when it’s also vampire drama. Visitation with Zach now takes a second place to the reality of vampires eating him. Nora worrying about her mother, not where she should live but how to keep her alive from vampires. The vampires are now front and centre on everyone’s mind – even Vasiliy and Augustin.

This is where the story really starts. Of course, we’re six episodes in, it took a while.

When I first saw Abraham back out and fumble with his pills I had a brief worry we were going to have an older character who was frail, but it was brief. After all, how can anyone watch this show and label Abraham as “frail”? He isn’t frail. But he is an old man – and his age, his health are not going to be glossed over. They’re not taking an “Exceptional” old man who has the same physical prowess at 70-80 as he did at 20, they’re taking a tough old man who is tough and strong and capable – but still an old man.

Now the show has my attention, let’s see how we go from here.