In a well-written serial drama, even if the overall narrative may take a season (or multiple seasons) to resolve, the storylines in individual episodes will advance toward that goal. Someone should inform the writers of ‘The Strain’ about that. This week’s episode yet again features a bunch of storylines that go nowhere and accomplish nothing.
Perhaps most glaringly, Fet and Hacker Chick develop a brilliant plan to sneak into Eldritch Palmer’s office so that Hacker Chick can turn the city’s internet back on. Said plan entirely consists of walking up to the building’s front desk and bluffing their way in. That’s the whole of it. The both of them apparently unaware of what security cameras are, they’re taken by surprise when Palmer’s manservant recognizes Hacker Chick and immediately captures them about five seconds after they step in the door. Manservant brings them before Palmer, who gives Hacker Chick a needless “talking killer” speech about how he has colluded with the vampires in order to gain immortality for himself, then sends them off for Manservant to dispose of them. Rather than kill them, however, Manservant lets them go. It seems that he actually sympathizes with their cause and doesn’t want the world to be destroyed, but is much too loyal to betray his boss. So, he sends them on their way to return to the pawn shop, having done nothing and learned little of importance that they couldn’t have figured out just by guessing. Why did we waste almost a third of an episode on this?
Meanwhile, Eph goes searching for his ex-wife Kelly. In an annoying bit of blatant Apple product placement, Eph’s kid uses a Macbook to track his mom’s iPhone – which is really amazing considering that we’ve been told a million times, including literally the scene before this one, that the internet in the city isn’t working. Whatever. Perhaps a more important takeaway is that Apple products make a lot of really frikkin’ annoying beeping and booping and clicking noises anytime something happens on the computer or phone screen. That alone is reason enough for me to never want to own an Apple device. #ProductPlacementFail
Eph locates the phone in the possession of a homeless woman who says that she found it on the street. She leads him to Kelly’s car, where Eph discovers some bloody tissues and fears the worst.
Confirming what we already guessed, the episode then flashes back a day and a half to show us what happened to Kelly. After totally abandoning all the kids at the school where she teaches (seriously, she just books it out of there without giving any of them a second thought), the woman returns home and is attacked by her vampire boyfriend, Matt. We already know that Eph is going to kill Matt later. In the meantime, Kelly gets away but is infected by a worm that crawls into her eyeball. Eww…
In a number of repetitive scenes, Kelly wanders around town, turning vampy. She goes back to her school and eats a coworker. She goes to her friend Not Fran Drescher’s house looking for her son, and eats both NFD and NFD’s young son. Then she hears a voice calling to her and is drawn to the Master vampire in a subway tunnel. He says that he has plans for her, and she should “Embrace your glorious fate.” Obviously, he plans to use her as bait for Eph.
We’re not there yet, though. In the present timeline, Eph follows Kelly’s trail to Not Fran Drescher’s house, where he skulks around in the dimly-lit basement until he finds the woman and her son now vampires. Eph shoots them both in the heads. When he finds his wife’s necklace in NFD’s hand, he knows that all hope is lost.
Eph returns to the pawn shop, also having achieved nothing. He behaves like a total prick, which causes stupid Hacker Chick to storm out, hopefully to be killed quickly.
Thus, the episode ends in pretty much the same place that it began.
The only notable event in the whole episode is the shocking moment where our hero Eph shoots a kid in the head… something that ‘The Walking Dead’ did at the beginning of its first episode four years ago.
Further, let’s assume for a moment that this story will eventually have a happy ending. Given that she makes it to the end of this episode, Kelly will undoubtedly be around for a while, until Eph and the gang kill the Master, and all of his victims are cured and return to normal, including Kelly. Yay, Eph saves his ex-wife! But wait, will he have a moment of revelation that all of the people he killed could have been saved? Will it hit him that he has straight-up murdered a young child, when he could have just locked the boy and his mother in the basement and left them trapped there until the crisis was over?
Have the writers of the show thought about things like this? Somehow, I doubt it.