Not much continues to happen on The Strain. This episode continues the investigation of what happened on the plane crash. I don’t even want to talk about what happens plot-wise in this episode because it’s just a reiteration of the last episode: The CDC continues to study the virus, Eph (Corey Stoll) struggles with gaining shared custody of his child and the few plane survivors continue to get “sicker”. The only update now is that someone released a report saying that the plane crashed as a result of a carbon monoxide leakage. We do not know who released this report, but furthermore, we do not know why Eph and Dr. Martinez (Mía Maestro) aren’t questioning who released the report. Anyway, on paper, it’s no longer a case for the CDC, but obviously that doesn’t stop the CDC from pursuing it.
What’s most interesting about this episode is that we get to know Eph a bit more and how imperfect our “hero” is. Along with fighting to gain shared custody of his child, he’s also a recovering aggressive alcoholic attending AA meetings. His wife is seeing a new man and Eph is understandably jealous, but he’s putting on his best face for his kid and it’s a very valiant effort. Not to mention, although he’s career-obsessed, he’s essentially fighting for the greater good of humanity (but of course, in the real world, you do need to let others pitch in; there’s a lot more power in teamwork). The writers set out a very flawed character, but because he’s so deeply well-meaning and dealing with very human issues, it’s so easy to put full faith into him.
Aside from this character development, the rest of the episode is pretty frustrating. We learn that some frail old dude (Jonathan Hyde, aka Van Pelt and Alan’s dad from Jumanji!) brought The Master to the States to better his own life, but we don’t exactly know how or why exactly (I guess there’s the that old rich billionaire archetype who will sacrifice all others for his own good, but can we get a little deeper than that?). This and everything else in this episode could easily have worked its way in to the premiere episode.
Part of the problem with the pace of this episode is that we’ve been prepped by the creators of this show to expected unique vampires with complex biologies and a long, historical backstory, none of which we’ve really seen to this point. We keep catching glimpses of these creatures and characters are slowly beginning to turn but there’s nothing setting them apart from any other vampires we’ve seen. Actually, I saw the Fright Night remake recently and I can’t remember which things happened in Fright Night and which things happened in The Strain because it’s all so generic. I cut The Strain some slack with the first episode because I understand that in order to receive a big payoff, viewers sometimes need to be patient through a slow set-up, but at least a little more payoff in this episode would have been appreciated.
At this point, all I can do is hope for more in next week’s episode. I have a personal three-episode strikeout rule, so this is The Strain‘s last chance.