Something is going on with current TV shows where (this week in particular) a capsule, single-focus episode sneaks in around mid-season. It’s a good thing. It’s also a great way for character development, instead of having the plot jump all over town, whipping from story to story. The device also makes the show feel more novelistic, and acts as a great stand-alone (one of those episodes, too, that you can point to to get new viewers interested). “Creatures of the Night” was all of that, and it continued The Strain‘s track record of improving every single week. Hit the jump to put it to a vote: “who wants to stay and die?”
“Creatures of the Night” was essentially the turning point that made The Strain turn into The Walking Dead. The mythology of both share a pathogen basis, and the CDC is pretty useless in both cases, but the difference is that The Strain‘s strigori (a Romanian term for the restless undead) are of course both vampire and zombie. That means that they are controlled by a central figure (the Master), and also are able to “mature.” In “Creatures of the Night,” we saw the beginnings of that maturity — they began using tools, communicating with one another / the Master, and became more lucid when it came to strategy (as well as physical movement).
Abraham explained that there are limits to that “maturity,” though, and only certain humans are given extra abilities after their transformation, like Eichhorst. Eichhorst represents a strigori between the Master and his minions, one who helps facilitate things. There are, presumably, others, though Eichhorst is the only one we have met, as well as being Abraham’s primary foe (the cloaked stranger next week might change that up, but as he didn’t appear in this hour, not much more can be said about that).
“Creatures of the Night” helped bring together a few more of the show’s factions, like having Vasiliy team up with Abraham & Co (and being their best asset). And of all the convenience stores in New York, our hot hacker lady shows up at that exact time as Ephraim and the rest, which puts her in their group as well (and also gives them another line to Eichhorst and the Master, little do they yet know).
What “Creatures of the Night” did best though was create an old-school horror flick in the course of an hour. Anyone who has watched any zombie film or TV series will know there will always be at least one scene where the heroes are trapped somewhere — a mall, a convenience store — with the horde outside ready to smash the walls down and eat them up. How they escape varies, but in the meantime, there’s usually a lot of team building, and a few tender moments. Helpfully, the horde usually quiets down during those times. Isn’t that nice?
The Strain hit each of those beats perfectly. Not only did the heroes find a new way to fight the strigori (with UV light), but Abraham laid out the rules clearly for Vasiliy, and for us. And, while there were a few expected deaths (like the bread truck driver), and one unexpected escape (hacker girl’s friend, which showed them the horde was a direct response from the Master to try and kill Abraham), the show upped the ante by killing off Jim.
In some ways it felt a little fast, but poor Jim was kind of a mess (and even had trouble opening up / plugging in an extension cord). Also, with hacker girl in the mix, Jim’s connection to Eichhorst isn’t unique. Further, it provided Nora and Ephraim with the struggle of having to make a personal kill — something they hadn’t encountered before. They both stepped it up afterwards by helping to kill off the horde, with Eph even giving the bread truck driver some mercy by executing him, and that was all necessary. So from Jim’s death came a leap forward, character-wise, and it made a lot of sense.
“Creatures of the Night” also had a lot of good information, mythology-wise, and plenty of monsters and frights, but it also had a lot of humor. Having Vasiliy finally teaming up with Abraham makes the badass factor square, and little touches like Vasiliy saying he is in a feud over his credit limit, and then choosing to get premium gas on Ephraim’s card was hilarious. It’s a balance that The Strain definitely needs, and has done well to incorporate.
With only Gus left to join the Bread Truck of Heroes, things are looking very good for the fight.
Episode Rating: A
— Eichhorst was the only person (thing?) who got his own cutaway in this episode, and even though he was silent, his injury (and inspection of the subway as a great idea for strigori travel) spoke volumes.
— I’m glad Abraham explained about maturity of the beasts, but how Eichhorst is different.
— Corey Stoll‘s wig has been looking increasingly crazy lately. Boo still coming correct, though.
— “Not vampire, viruses” – Ephraim. Er, kinda.
— “No offense, but every time I talk to you I end up feeling worse” – Ephraim to Abraham, whose motivational speeches about focus, goals, and primarily death are definitely not picker-uppers.
— “Unholy of filth!” – Abraham.
— Oh Hassan … this week’s Idiot of the Episode (just behind the bread truck driver).
— Was the hacker pouring one out as she drank? Was it for her friend/girlfriend? And that girl escaping was also a hilarious move.
— I love that Vasiliy came to the same conclusion as Ephraim about UV light, without being fancy about it.
— “Burglars, vigilantes, vampire killers … add it to the list” – Ephraim.
— R.I.P. Jim, who was almost as much of a fanboy to Ephraim as Samwise Gamgee was to Frodo.