In its second episode, The Strain focused more on the idea of transformation, including its own (potentially). “The Box” spent more time on the vampire side of things, and also set the stage for the upcoming season in terms of focus. It also allowed for a little more discovery into this vampiric contagion, and the many forms it takes. Hit the jump for why “a good story always trumps the truth.”
Let’s start with the mythology, because that’s clearly the most fun. “The Box” revealed several important things: Abraham and Eichorst have known each other for a long time, as both have been involved (on opposing sides) of this vampiric struggle. Eichorst is controlled by The Master, and is in opposition to Abraham on that front. But of course, the two also have a past with Eichorst as a Nazi who imprisoned Abraham in a concentration camp, where he was given his dehumanizing numerical tattoo. (Once again I say, what good is a supernatural horror story without an immortal Nazi?)
There’s something important about the coffin having crossed the river, which it has already done. For Abraham, this is bad news, but seemingly all is not yet lost. He’s the old guard in this fight, and the touches into his background (such as keeping the heart of his loved one, and her sword, and his tale of killing one of Eichorst’s close associates) are what has made The Strain come alive with its mythology. And now, it’s time for Abraham to give the fight over to the next generation.
Meanwhile, the other member of the older set, Eldritch Palmer, continues his quest for immortality by meeting The Master fresh out of his box. While Palmer seemed cooly evil and in control in the premiere, his weakness was made clear in “The Box.” He trembles to gaze upon this horror, and seems to start very seriously reconsidering the wisdom of acquiring this expensive import.
All of this has been operating in its own world, though, as Ephraim’s only window into it is through the (very ornery) survivors. “The Box” did a nice job of moving that story along without hurrying it too much. June and Gabe get out of the quarantine as fast as they can, as the plague is downgraded to a mechanical error to better suit the political and economical needs of the biggest players. But both start exhibiting symptoms that they ignore. This is where The Strain starts to wobble — did no one notice their blood-shot eyes and the fact they were bleeding from their skin? Or that the ringing and whispering might be something, y’know, worth checking out? But they don’t, which leaves Gabe biting through a chick’s neck, and then playing it off like it’s a thing people do.
The pilot, Doyle, however, is far more helpful, and allowed himself to be examined (who knows about the bookish guy, though). His body composition is changing, and as Ephraim and his handy UV light determine, the man is full of evil worms. What those worms will do to him has been made clear in degrees elsewhere: the disappearance of the bodies from the morgue shows that the strain reanimates corpses no matter how much in disrepair (exception: head squishing), and as the tale of the French girl showed, the new creatures have no care for who they eat, only that they do. The little worms become some kind of giant worm that pops out and feeds before retreating back into the body (and the victims, it seems, will reanimate as bloodsuckers of their own).
Being a few steps ahead of Ephraim and Nora is nice because it creates a sense of anticipation. In this episode, it was: when would they get to the morgue, and what would they find once they do? Next, it will be: when will they go check in on the father and his reanimated daughter, and again, what will they find? The struggle being set up between Ephraim (the Lone Man of the CDC) and other government agencies (and some very litigious victims) is a good one that will solidify his outside status, like Abraham. So far, though, his story at home still isn’t doing much in the way of interest (or even sense).
As for Gus and his idiot brother, as well as new character Vasiliy (Kevin Durand), not much is known, but they’re both entertaining, which, at some point, is really all you can ask. Presumably they will join up with Ephraim at some point to form a rag-tag bunch to fight the vampires and the contagion. Let the ass kicking begin.
Episode Rating: A-
— I can see why Fox originally wanted to make this a comedy.
— Sean Astin as the obligatory n00b vomiting over the sight of a squished head.
— Does Ephraim have any real support from the CDC? He seems to be operating on his own, with Nora tagging along.
— Ok, so Ephraim and his wife aren’t even divorced yet, and she’s merrily informing him that her new boyfriend and Zach are remodeling his old office into a game room? And I don’t just mean changing out the furniture and painting the walls, but, a full-scale renovation where Zach is one of the laborers. Also, WTF about the boyfriend wanting to be BFF’s with Eph? Wasn’t he salty with him and allowing him to get ticketed just like the day before?
— I love how Zach called Eph out on his work schedule. Kid knows what’s up.
— Ammonia-like smell? Neon bio goop? RUN!
— That was a very well-attended AA meeting. It also allowed Ephraim to completely lay out his character’s personality. Short version: asshole. (Although to be fair, he is very effective at his job. Jobs like that probably need assholes).
— “A good story always trumps the truth, just give the press a villain to hate” – Eichorst.