Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Strain, Season 2, Episode 9: The Battle for Red Hook

Eichorst is hiring a boat to smuggle 20 people into Red Hook – a part of the city that Ferraldo has successfully guarded and made vampire free.

He then goes to see Kelly who is sad because she didn’t get to eat her child. She’s especially bitter about Nora because even a vampire focused on world domination and surrounded by baby spider vamps can be bitter about a competing love interest, apparently.

To our gang (hiding in Red Hook) and Zach has finally realised that he’s a damn fool. Abraham wants to get everyone prepared for the next attack since Kelly knows where they are now – but Nora and Ephraim want to call in the cavalry – Justine Ferraldo. Vasiliy also agrees, out voting Abraham.

Abraham and Ephraim discuss their various methods of stopping the Master and neither approves of the other. Abraham’s shiny book is too woo-woo a solution for Ephraim and Ephraim’s bioweapon just kills off disposable, easily replaced drones as far as Abraham is concerned. Abraham also realises Ephraim isn’t going to use his new sniper rifle to kill vampires – he warns Ephraim about becoming  monster while fighting a monster. Abraham-who-uses-eye-worms-for-immortality cares about this now? I thought part of the POINT of his character was to BE this warning, not vocalise it.

Nikki and Dutch are staying together and discuss Nikki’s mother who would quite like Nikki to come home. Dutch points out how little her mother doesn’t like her – and concedes she has a point. Vasiliy and Nora drop in to warn them about Kelly and the spider vamps – and to encourage Dutch to get back in the team. She decides to stay and maybe catch up later- and her kiss goodbye is sort of chaste.

That leaves Nikki and Dutch to talk relationships – Dutch saying she loves Vasiliy and them Nikki and Dutch and arguing over various issues – Dutch’s laptop and items, Nikki judging Dutch, and Dutch finally deciding she was happier without Nikki. They kiss angrily wit Dutch’s “I have always been in love with you and it’s never made me happy.”

Ferraldo goes through her plans with the mayor – but while she is looking at slowly taking over Brooklyn, the mayor is more interested in freeing Manhattan and all the rich and powerful people (part of this is obvious serving the rich and part is to secure greater aid and attention from the powerful). Ferraldo invokes his deal to let her run the show, and Ephraim manages to gatecrash. He managed to tell Ferraldo about Kelly’s attack and why Red Hook is not secure. Unfortunately Abraham’s paranoid ranting isn’t all that convincing even if it is accurate. They do manage to warn Ferraldo that the vampires are using new strategies to get through the check points.

Eichorst and Kelley make their move – and shut off the UV lights that helps keep Red Hook safe. Again, Abraham and Ephraim have a chance to warn the Mayor and Ferraldo about doom and gloom coming – to which the mayor decides he’s running away and leaving Ferraldo in charge.

She martials her troops – and decides she also wants to be in the front room. I really kind of like her. Vasiliy and Nora also join the party.

Battle begins – the first wave pretty weak to test – and now Vasiliy speaks up in favour of Abraham and he’s very influential with Ferraldo. They realise they need to get the power back on and the UV lights back up and not enough manpower to do it – this calls for the gang to go alone (with as child of course because we have to try and make this character relevant).

Well, exact Abraham who is more focused in killing Eichorst who he knows is leading the attack.

Dutch hears the fighting and decides she has to go help.

A huge horde of vampires gathers at Red Hook, vastly outnumbering them and Ferraldo begins to despair. But the minute her captain suggests she leaves she finds a whole lot of spine – worrying about the people under her does not mean she would leave them.

She rallies by making a dramatic speech to all the civilians of Red Hook to ask them join her in the battle and bolster their numbers, Dutch among them – and Nikki.

The battle begins which is kind of shiny… kind of

The group attacking the power plant gets it back online with Nora and Vasiliy turning the power and the lights back on. Alas they rather epic battle is over quite quickly. That’s a shame it was getting good. Yes it’s over quickly before the epic can happen. I also hope that is super UV light because you’ll have a gazillion infected there

But at the power plant, Kelley arrives, hunting Zach (and Zach runs to Nora’s arms. Yes we’re really pushing this Nora vs Kelley thing. Shame they’ve never developed it – because that would have involved Nora having more screen time). Vasiliy and Nora fight – both ridiculously (he tries to strangler her rather than hit her. She hits him rather than biting him) before police arrive to drive them off

Abraham confronts Eichorst  - and Ephraim interferes with inaccurate sniping. Eichorst hunts Ephraim with the Nazi also commenting on Ephraim being Jewish. Before Eichorst kills Ephraim Abraham shows Ephraim how shooting is really done.

Sun rises and the people of Red Hook clear up the bodies. Everyone meets up again. Feraldo has a great speech while also minimising her own role.

This show is beginning to remind me of a treadmill. You get flurries of activity but you don’t actually go anywhere. The gang want to kill the vampires… but aren’t actually really doing anything about that – the best we had so far this entire season was Ephraim’s aborted jaunt to DC. Vasiliy’s plan to take the city back block by block has fizzled. Dutch and Nikki are kind of stalled. Ephraim and Nora aren’t doing anything. Abraham doesn’t have his book – and we still have no real clue what this book is supposed to do. Quinland is… is… doing… something? I guess. The apocalypse itself isn’t exactly going anywhere either – New York is not a happy fun place but doesn’t seem to be appreciably getting better or worse and the whole battle this episode didn’t seem to change that.

Nothing DEVELOPES. Stuff occasionally happens, begins to develop then falls back to irrelevance. Ephraim and Nora discover a bioweapon and… fizzle. Vasiliy, Dutch, Nikki are all mired in emotional drama. Angel and Gus are more concerned with an Indian restaurant than doing anything. Nora hasn’t done anything, ever. There are furniture in Abraham’s shop that is more relevant. It’s episode 9 of the second season – and it’s exactly the same problem with the first season.

I think they even miss some of the more interesting conflicts of the show – like Abraham’s larger fight (which lines up nicely with Quinlan). New York can burn for all either of them care – so long as the Master dies. While Vasiliy is more focused on saving the city and Ephraim kind of split between the two.

Or we could just dump the whole lot of them and focus on Ferraldo. But then we’d have to deal with the mayor, the only recurring Black character – who is corrupt (though his point about Manhattan and support COULD have had a point if it were actually developed), cowardly and inept

“I have always been in love with you and it’s never made me happy.”

Yeah… they’ve set up a whole love triangle competition thing here. From a sheer “he’s the main character standpoint” we always knew Vasiliy was the one most likely to come out on top – but this whole episode has been about how Dutch and Vasiliy work better than Dutch and Nikki. Even Nikki’s good moments – fighting and saving Dutch – are really more Nikki stepping up close to where Vasily already is. And Dutch plainly says she loves Vasiliy – while her love for Nikki comes with this line: even in love, it’s a toxic relationship.