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“Good job little killer. Now Poppa is going to do some killing too.”
After last week's very busy pilot to The Strain, the show has dialed back the apocalypse and focused more on the characters. While the beginning was a very exciting one, I personally found it more interesting to see how the show is creating and maintaining character driven drama the book lacked in some spots. This week we saw people facing demons of the past, while getting a glimpse at those who want to rule our future. Promises are made, as well as threats, all while The Master is looming in the background.
“When you die it will be the Master's eyes you see out.”
Probably the best moment of tonight's episode was the showdown between Abraham Setrakian and Herr Eichorst, as they shot the breeze and caught up with each others' lives. As it turns out, the two know each other from a concentration camp back in World War II. While Eichorst baits him from the other side of the glass, Setrakian's resolve is not broken. Even when he constantly refers to his prisoner number, Abraham does not bend. If the plot of this show were to build itself around a rivalry, it would be this one, and it's exciting because it gives the old man so much more to do than he had in the book.
”Everyone's first priority is covering their asses... and no one gives a shit about the truth.”
The second best moment of the evening belongs to Eph Goodweather, who finally has taken a moment to stop being a professional and start being a human again. We see the recovering alcoholic/genius make his way to an AA meeting and confront the fact that he's upset about Matt's march of progress into his household. While Eph came off as a type A workaholic in the pilot, he got to be a little more of a three dimensional character this week, and he's shown some of the emotional damage he's going through.
”Here's to being alive.”
As for the side characters, we have our four survivors released into the public once more, thanks to Joan Luss's connections to the Secretary of Health And Human Services. Just as they think they're the picture of health, they all start to show symptoms such as bleeding and an insatiable craving for blood. Gabriel, surprise surprise, is the first one to draw blood, in a sequence that danced on the edges of basic cable censorship. Meanwhile. Gus delivers The Master's coffin and gets a little (understandably) spooked. Just as he's ready to relax and regroup, he gets into a fight with Crispin over his brother's habit. Gus himself is not without sin, as he's coming off a two year stint in jail that upset their dear mother. All of the pieces are moving into place, and to see the gears moving towards the impending eclipse.
”I've never felt more excited about a meeting in my entire life.”
Of course, this being a Guillermo Del Toro co-created gig, there's a heaping dose of horror and humor mixed into the proceedings, which is where Eldritch Palmer and Vasiliy Fet come in, respectively. On the horror front, we've finally seen more of what The Master looks like, which is something that brings even the all powerful Palmer to his knees in fear. His hand is felt as much as The Master's throughout this episode, as he pulls some strings to make sure everything's in order. Meanwhile, we were introduced to rat hunter/pot stirrer Vasiliy Fet, as he crashed a fancy New York restaurant to inspect a pest infestation that might be important later on. For now though, Fet looks like a comedic foil for Eph's detective work.
We end this week as we did the last, with everyone's favorite French father/daughter pair sharing a loving moment of recuperation and understanding. Just kidding, the daughter finally snacks on her dad, and we'll probably see him turned by next week. Happy endings for all!
The Strain really deviated from its source material tonight, but in the best way possible. It didn't really move past last week's bookmark in the source novel, but it has given everyone something more to do. If the series continues this pace of developing events and characters at the same time, it's going to really pay off when we arrive to certain key moments of the storyline. With this week's episode dissected, it's time to dive into some book knowledge. Click over to the next page for this week's Nitpicks, Notes, and Nods.
NitpicksDoes it count as daybreak if the clouds are getting lighter, but the sun isn't showing? Also, I don't think Gus opened the van in the book.
The Carbon Monoxide cover story for Flight 753 is new. It serves as a good update to the conspiracy storyline though, and gives a good excuse as to why the survivors would be released in the first place.
Bolivar's manager was originally a man, and Joan and Bolivar never interact after the incident. Also, Bolivar never had a theater underneath his newly renovated apartment. Could del Toro be setting up for a Phantom Of The Paradise homage?
Ansel Barbour (the nerdy looking programmer) was actually the first survivor we followed home in the book.
Doyle Redfern never knew about the box, but he was always cooperative.
Eph never goes to an AA meeting in the novel.
We see a lot more of Eldritch Pamer's string pulling in the show.
NotesWe don't get to see Zach and Eph bond as much as they do in the book. However, that AA meeting really made up for it, because the writers traded off some possibly cliched moments of father and son playing Xbox for a dramatic admission of Eph's flaws and humanity. Both will catch up to him hardcore as the story progresses, and this is just adding fuel to the fire.
While I love David Bradley and Kevin Durand respectively, I wish John Hurt and Ron Perlman got to play Setrakian and Fet as they were originally meant to. Their master/apprentice relationship in the series' later history would have sent fans into a frenzy.
NodsEichorst reveals the origin of the heart in Setrakian's jar. It came from someone he loved very much. You can read the full story in The Fall, during one of the Interludes.
Josef Sardu was finally mentioned in the Eichorst conversation. Sardu is a giant who was the center of a folk tale Abraham learned from his grandmother. As legend goes, Josef went on a hunting expedition, and came back a vampire. He is The Master's current vessel.
Reading Assignment: Nothing for this week.