The Strain S1E11, “The Third Rail”

Strain Poster 2

The season is winding down.  While the show has gotten better, it’s still maddeningly inconsistent.  There are some great scenes – and there have even been some truly great episodes – but there are too many moments of drama driven by the stupidity of the main characters.  This episode had a little bit of each of those.  Let’s get to it.

Hates:

1. I proclaimed my hatred for Zach last week, and he did nothing this week to change my mind.  He kicked off the episode by saying, “epic fail,” and I nearly punched through my TV.  He spent the rest of the episode either staring blankly at Nora’s mother or making an ill-advised trip out of the pawn shop in search of cigarettes for her.  I really can’t stand this kid.

2. This exchange between Zach and Eph:
“Why can’t I go?”
“I can’t control that environment.”
Did you guys know that Eph is a control freak?  Me neither.  They’re totally subtle about it.  They haven’t driven that point into the ground or anything.

3. The gang left Zach and Mrs. Martinez alone in the pawn shop.  That seems like a bad decision anyway, but it seems like an even worse decision when it was revealed that there was an entire wall of weapons in the basement, just hanging out.  Sure.  Just let the child and the woman with Alzheimer’s – who has been acting erratically all day – alone with a weapons stockpile.  That seems like a pretty uncontrolled environment, Eph.

4. Gus, you just killed your vampire brother (who, oddly, looked slightly better as a vampire than he did as a human.  RIP Vampire Weevil).  Don’t wander around the house in the dark.  Turn on a light.

5. Wandering around subway tunnels, looking at items of the deceased, dropping lines like, “It’s everything that defined these people.”  Knock it off.
Another word about the subway tunnels.  They had just come across a nest of vampires that they had to sneak by.  They also talked about how sound travels.  And yet minutes later, they’re out there yelling at each other.  What part of “vampires in tunnels” don’t you understand?  For as smart as all of these people are, they’re pretty stupid most of the time.

6. The Master looks really dumb.  He’s like some mash-up of Nosferatu, Admiral Ackbar and Clem from Buffy.  Probably not a good sign when I laugh really hard every time the main villain is on the screen.

Loves:

1. Fet making a UV bomb.  I love the image of Fet hunched over a work bench, desperately trying to make a UV bomb.  Fet is the best.

2.  Nora’s mom smokes Morleys.  I bet her and CSM hooked up on more than one occasion.

3. The vampire lady sitting in the basement of the shop Zach got the cigarettes from was really creepy.
Of course, Zach saw her, freaked out and dropped his phone.  (This is your reminder that cell phones don’t work anymore.)  What does he do?  He jumps down from his spot to retrieve his phone, losing track of the vampire lady in the process.  Zach, you are remarkably dumb.

4. I loved the vampire crawling after Fet in the tunnel.  The way his head moved was supremely unnerving.

5. Setrakian’s coffin-smashing.  We saw a lot of pent-up rage come flying out of Setrakian this week.  I liked it.

6. Fet proclaiming, “That’s a lot of munchers,” when seeing a teeming horde of vampires bathed in red light.  I like the term “munchers” and I love that visual.
Quick story: we drove up to Wisconsin to see Radiohead on their Hail to the Thief tour.  It was an outdoor venue, and we had our spot near the back, on the top of the hill.  There were thousands of people between us and the stage.  All we could see was the backs of their heads.  Around the middle of the show, they played “We Suck Young Blood”.  It’s a slow, lurching song that eventually explodes.  For the beginning of that song, the lights facing the audience were green.  The band sang the first line, “Are you hungry?” while the green lights washed over a sea of heads, all nodding simultaneously in a slow, hypnotic fashion.  I had a terrifying thought that they were all going to slowly turn and come after us.  It was one of the creepiest things I have ever seen.
The image of thousands of vampires milling around in the glow of the red flare took me back to that moment.

Final thoughts:

More bad than good in this episode.  There were entirely too many annoying moments that distracted from the good ones.

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