This summer, FX brings Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain to TV for some creepily delicious vampire horror. We’re here to bring you our weekly take on just how well the adaptation holds up.
Last episode, the series actually reached an unexpected height, ditching its more convoluting elements in lieu of telling a complete story, bringing the CDC team face to face with their first fully transformed vampire. Pincer flying and searching for blood, it took Eph’s final effort, caving in the creature’s head to feel the beast. Just with their first taste, the team now realizes just what the contagion will do to a human body. But are they still behind on just how far the invasion has come?
Still in the morgue following the fight with the turned pilot, the team quickly sets upon the corpse to examine the body and the effects of the deadly worms. Their worst fears are confirmed as they see that the pathogens actually reconfigure the host’s body into a new type of undead life-form. Realizing that he may have played a part in unleashing this plague on the city, the revelation plays heavily on Jim Kent, who confesses his role in the coffin’s release into the either. Sean Astin tries his hardest with the material and direction given to him in this scene, but it comes off as if he’s a nine-year old child uncomfortable with some kind of secret that he’s holding back from his parents. Further his line delivery just can’t seem to match the intensity of the moment, akin to a child fretting over something trivial while a larger game plays around them.
Visibly disappointed by the news, Eph (Corey Stoll) and Nora (Mia Maestro) abandon their once trustworthy friend in order to sort out the newest information they gathered on the vampires. Concerned that the infection had spread to the other survivors, Eph and Nora set off first to the Arnot residence, where a father had struggled for the first few episodes of the season with his once thought dead daughter’s sudden return and vampiric transformation. Upon seeing the two humans, the turned vampires attack Eph and Nora, who are reluctant to destroy even a vampire inhabiting a young girl’s body. Luckily, Abraham Setrakian arrives on the scene to rescue the scientists. Using his hidden cane blade, he dispatches the young girl and man with little effort, though it does take its toll on him.
Unable to take much more violence, Nora decides to split away from the men who are still intent on hunting down the remaining vampires. Instead, Nora remains intent on finding some type of cure for what she still takes as some new disease.
Hiding Out Back
The best subplot for the episode was reserved for the continuing plight of Ansel Barbour, one of the flight’s survivors whose steak drinking last episode brought about my question at the end of last week’s review. This week, the man’s family continued to worry for him as he quickly got them to move out of the house. Fearing what he would do to his kids and his wife he has them leave, though ominously keeping his dog at home. Upon his wife’s return to their press surrounded home, she finds their dog out back, dead with chunk ripped out of it and blood leading to their steadily rumbling shed. Looking inside she is greeted by a chained and monstrous Ansel, fighting the best he can not to devour her. Backing her away, she chains the door back up to the howls of the monster that was once her husband.
Later, a disgruntled neighbor arrives to complain about the sounds emanating from her backyard, threatening to put a stop to their dog’s cries while intimating that he had done so before to their dog. Vengeful and unwilling to deal with further authorities, the wife lets the neighbor into the shed and into the waiting jaws of the changed husband.
The Bad’s Really Bad
“It’s not for everyone” was a pretty solid episode overall, though starting it off with Astin’s temper tantrum really felt like a step back for the series which seemed like it got over its troublesome dialogue and direction that plagued it in the first few episodes. Whereas much of the scientific aspects of this episode actually worked in its favor this time around as the audience had a visual in the vampire autopsy to go along with Eph and Nora’s analysis, Jim’s freakout that he was the point-man on a possible outbreak that any normal viewer would have rolled their eyes at.
Additionally, the introductionof 90’s era hacker character Dutch, played here by Ruta Gedmintas, comes off a bit weak as she’s hired by Eldritch Palmer as a tool for information warfare as she boasts that she can slow down the internet back to dial-up speeds. It comes off entirely for exposition and to bring a new face on screen rather than to facilitate plot movement.
Putting those things aside, the consistency of the show has worked out pretty well, never moving far beyond the situation at hand, while also grounding each character with their own motivations. Further still, the interconnections that each episode highlights now is putting the show’s best foot forward and engendering some great momentum going into the coming episodes.