The Strain S1E8, “Creatures Of The Night”

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You guys remember Splinter?  The horror movie that took place in a gas station?  It was impossible to watch this episode and not think about that film.  The Mist also came to mind, although that was a slightly bigger setting, with a somewhat unseen menace.  I loved it.  I love the claustrophobia it brings, but I also loved that they stacked this entire episode full of vampires and action.  Sure, there was some drama, and one of our main characters got popped (after much hand-wringing), but this episode moved along at a nice clip and provided a lot of bashing.  That’s what I’m in this for.  The bashing.  Character drama be damned.

The rules were laid down once more, because none of us can be expected to remember them from week-to-week.  Not all the rules, mind you; telling how to kill a vampire is nice and all, but it’s also kind of important to make sure they know how not to get infected.  Although maybe that’s not too important.  After all Rudy knew the rules and still didn’t think a vampire stinger to the face was enough to infect him.  Try doing the Gipper speech again.  Maybe that’ll help.  “Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys…” And that’s all he can say, because he doesn’t have a head anymore.

We did get a new little morsel of information here, though: the fact that there are different classes of vampires – “even among the strigoi there’s a caste system” – and that they operate with a hive mind.  That was one of my favorite parts of the books: the mythology behind the vampires.  It’s very well thought-out.  The more they delve into that mythology, the more interesting the vampires become.
(By the way, every time Setrakian says “Strigoi”, I think of the movie by that title.  It wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was a lot of fun.  It’s well worth your time to track down.)

From subway to medical supply store to convenient store to the great wide open in a bread truck.  They may have moved locations, but the setting was pretty much the same.  They just moved from one claustrophobic area to another.  I had some issues with this episode (naturally), but they’re nit-picky.  The Walking Dead could learn a lesson or two from these last few episodes of The Strain: characters and writing aren’t your strong suit, so just make sure there’s enough action to keep things interesting.

Hates:

1. This show has a tendency to introduce something really cool in an episode, only to completely ignore that storyline in the next episode.  The end of “For Services Rendered” introduced us to the merry band of vampire hunters, got everyone excited about them, then promptly ditched them for this episode.  I prefer having an episode like this, where we’re with one group of characters for the duration.  I just wish we would have had an episode with the vampire hunters first.  You can’t keep dangling that carrot just to pull it away as soon as we’re interested.

2.  Eph decided in the last episode that it was in his best interests to wear a hat to disguise himself in public places.  But apparently he decided that hat was just too much, and promptly ditched it.  Wear your disguise, buddy, no matter how minimal it may be.

3.  Jim getting hit with a stinger and no one saying anything about it for a good 20 minutes.  They all know how infectious those worms are; all it takes is a scratch.  Setrakian has been studying/killing vampires for decades, yet Jim’s injury is glossed over by the group.  These are the kinds of problems that really bother me if there’s not something else going on.  As it was, it was a bad decision, but I was quickly distracted by vampire beatings.  I’m basically a magpie, but with violence instead of shiny things.

4.  I’ve taken issue with Dutch Velders: Magical Hacker in a previous episode, but I kind of forgot about her.  Now she’s back!  She’s back and in a convenient store, talking about how she took everything down!  The exact convenient store as our heroes found themselves in!  Isn’t that quite a coincidence?
I can’t even get too worked up over this.  I assume she’s just vampire fodder.

5.  Nora reacting to Jim’s death by knocking a bunch of packages of Chips Ahoy off a shelf.  I know you’re upset, but those cookies did nothing to you.

6.  The escape from the gas station.  I liked most of it, but part of it really bothered me.  Inside the gas station, they were all, “We need to keep a tight circle with our UV lights.”  They get outside and keep a tight circle for roughly 30 seconds before scattering.  It’s a miracle they all made it out alive.

Loves:

1. Setrakian talking about the different levels of vampires.  Very informative.

2.  Fet’s vampire attacking style.  He leaps towards his target – making his neck a hard target to hit – and hits them as hard as he can with a piece of rebar.  It looks fantastic and extremely violent.  It’s amazing.
I also love that Fet has met up with the gang.  Fet & Setrakian side-by-side is a lot of fun.

3.  They have a knack for plugging up plot holes before you’re necessarily aware of them.  Before breaking out a window in the medical supply store, someone says, “Watch out for the alarm.”  They also give a brief explanation as to why they can’t use UV lights through the windows.  It’s hard to complain about something when they bring it up as a talking point.  This could get old, but I kind of enjoy it right now.

4.  As I mentioned above, I loved the “hive mind” reveal.

5.  Fet was fantastic this entire episode.  His brutal attacks.  His killing Jim for the good of the group.  His face when he shrugged his shoulders and filled up his gas buckets with Premium fuel (that moment killed me).

6.  Aside from the part listed in Hates, the escape scene was terrific.  Really tense.  Lots of great vampire bashing.  A great way to end a very good episode.

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