Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Strain, Season 1, Episode 8: Creatures of the Night

In the aftermath of the truly awful plan last week, Abraham decides now is the time to tell them that vampires that aren’t brand new are actually super fast and nearly impossible to hurt. This is probably information that would have been better delivered before hunting Eichorst, in my humble opinion. Anyway at least by hurting Eichorst (and they have since he limps away looking not happy) they’ve provoked the Master so… yay? We also have a SCIENCE reason why the vampires hate sunlight

Time for some breaking and entering in a medical supply warehouse (Nora has a brief moral quandary about burglary but hey, vampire hunters) and they run into Vasiliy. Vasiliy is the reason the alarms aren’t working, he’s also there for the UVC lights to burn vampires and briefly checks if there’s a reward for turning Ephraim in (there isn’t). Nora isn’t amused by Vasiliy’s taking all the lamps in case he needs spare; she negotiates out half and then she, Jim and Ephraim stock up on food and phones (having problems because the networks being down because MAGIC HACKERS stop the credit card machines working. Dutch, the Magic Hacker in question happens to be passing by and gives Nora money).

Nora also warns Ephraim about the trouble which will follow shortages which are surely on the way as the vampire problem gets worse – revealing some more of her past when she describes similar shortages in her youth.

Some vampires show up and Abraham reminds everyone that he’s lethal – and Vasiliy also gets in on the vampire killy action. A whole horde shows up, some random passers by get eaten and everyone tries to hold them off (why does Nora have to be told what to aim for? Whyy? Why does Ephraim know more than her?)  Thankfully the vampires are content to slowly shuffle towards them and not use their super-long tentacle tongues so it’s less a grand fight and more a shooting gallery. They very kindly only start moving quickly once everyone is barricaded in the shop. They then decide to just lurk outside the shop for “reinforcements” which means we can have a tense stand off for a rather implausible amount of time while the gang pretends to be fortified in a building with vast plate glass windows.

Jim is cut with a tentacle though so he’s probably turning, and Dutch the Magic Hacker is now hanging around with the group (of all the shops in New York…). Stereotype South Asian/Middle Eastern shop keeper is a stereotype, Dutch can’t seem to keep her hackiness a secret and Vasiliy and Abraham make friends. When one of the extras manages to run and isn’t chased they realise the vampires are not just hunting random victims. The Master is hunting them (what a surprise). The next extra to run gets eaten so Dutch decides to hang around.

Ephraim keeps doubting Abraham about the idea of the Master controlling the vampires. Abraham rests on his record of not being wrong. Ephraim’s also still pouty with Jim (Ephraim is a terrible manchild) but a UV lamp reveals Jim has a work from his cut – so it’s makeshift surgery with stuff they found in a shop time! And I thought Jimmy was as good as vampired!

The vampires, having politely left them alone for some time, now decide to cut the power to the shop (Abraham awesomely shoot son but is too late to stop the power going out).

Faced with vampires actually willing to kill them (well, make ominous noises) they realise as soon as the UV light batteries die they die – and they need to run for the truck that the disposable extra left. Abraham rallies everyone and reveals that the reason the vampires are starting to think is that they are maturing – and in a month they will be fully “mature” – not like Eichorst –Eichorst is a special vampire of specialness – but still more lucid. Ephraim pouts a bit more

Stereotype Hasan decides to stay behind, Dutch mopes and drinks and Jim worships Ephraim a bit because the whiny one needs his ego pampering. This is also a last attempt to make us go “aww” because removing the worm did nothing! There are now 10 squillion worms in Jim. Ephraim considers possible cures – Jim asks them to kill him, he knows he needs them to especially since a newly turned vampire goes after the ones they love.

Nora and Ephraim can’t face it, even as Abraham says they have to and Jim begs them to for the sake of his family –and Vasiliy shoots Jim. Bye Jim. Ephraim has one of his tantrums while Nora cries –and Vasiliy talks sense and hard truth.

The gang makes the run for the truck, Ephraim being snarky to Vasiliy because he’s Ephraim. After much dramatic fighting they escape unscathed – including Dutch now added to the team

That episode was a bit more satisfying than most – because it was focused. We had one group of people with a clear goal and all of the very obvious foreshadowing was now very apparent (there was a lot of build up in this show that I don’t think worked – yes I’ve read the books so I knew what was coming but I think it was pretty obvious to everyone). It had some decent action – ok there were the obvious flaws of the vampires constantly waiting around for no apparent reason – but it generally worked and got the whole vampire battle out there – and showed the next stage of The Strain. We’re not hunting vampires in shadowed tunnels, basements and the families of the plane survivors – they’ve spread. It’s a war now, not an execution, not a treatment; this episode is, even more than the eclipse, a sign of that – even if no meta really advanced

Dutch showing up in the shop was a pretty unforgiveable coincidence.

I love Vasiliy and Abraham. I don’t love Nora (who is nearly always weeping and torn about something – and yes there’s plenty to be weepy and torn about, but it feels like that’s why we had a woman dropped in the group – to be the weepy/torn conscience rather than a fuller character). And Ephraim? Alpha male posturing is always tiresome – it becomes even more so when the Alpha male is rather blatantly not the authority or power in the group but it feels like the show is still oddly fixed on him. I actually think this could be an interesting twist if done well, we could end up seeing a character who is very like, say, Alan in Helix only for Abraham to continually and firmly put him in his place. That would be an interesting dynamic.