This week’s episode of ‘The Strain’ is the strongest of the four that have aired so far, but the show is still missing a critical component: I just don’t care enough about any of the characters.
Our hero Ephraim is kind of a jerk. His partner/mistress Nora tries to be the moral voice of the group, but she comes across as annoyingly whiny. As much as the show tries to drum up interest in Jim with the story about his sick wife, he’s still boring. All of the plane victims are turning into evil monsters. The Latino gang-banger Gus is reasonably sympathetic and gets a lot of screen time this week, but his storyline about stealing cars is totally pointless and has nothing to do with anything. The only character I actually look forward to seeing more of is the pest exterminator Vasiliy, and he’s not even in this episode.
That said, ‘It’s Not for Everyone’ opens with a fun scene as Eph attempts to perform a secret autopsy on the body of Capt. Redfern in the hospital basement. Medically speaking, I’m sure that it’s totally ludicrous the way he cuts willy-nilly into the body and grabs and yanks and throws weird body parts around with no protection beyond a pair of rubber gloves, but it’s entertaining to watch. Unfortunately, for as gory as the scene is, the lack of any blood or fluids (a network limitation?) fails to sell the illusion, and the body looks like the rubber mold that it is.
When that part’s done, Jim confesses to Eph about letting the van with the coffin past security. Eph is pissed and throws a fit about it.
The crux of the episode is a big moral argument between Eph and Nora about whether they have the right to kill the victims. Eph feels that he needs to do whatever it takes to stop the contagion, but Nora believes that the victims are still people and should be treated. This comes to a head when they return to the French guy’s house and are attacked by him and the little girl, both now monsterfied. Setrakian shows up out of the blue to save Eph and Nora by decapitating both vampires. At this point, Eph is fully on board with joining Setrakian to wipe out the vampires. Nora is horrified and runs off.
Also major players this week are nerdy Ansel and his hyper-phobic wife Ann-Marie. When Ansel kills and eats the family dog, he chains himself up in the backyard shed and tells his wife to run. As I’ve complained about previously, this is a time when anyone with a lick of sense would immediately contact the authorities. But of course, Ann-Marie doesn’t. Instead, however, when her asshole neighbor yells at her for all the noise coming from their house, she pushes him into the shed and lets Ansel eat him. I guess she’s decided to follow a different path than you or I personally might if we discovered that our spouses had turned into horrible evil monsters.
Finally, the writers of the show bend over backwards to plug a plot hole that I’m sure most viewers hadn’t even considered. As part of their master plan to unleash the virus, Nazi vampire Eichorst and Stoneheart CEO Palmer hire a punk hacker chick to kill the internet in New York City, so that nobody in the city can send photos or instant messages, and the plague will spread faster than information about it. Honestly, I think it would have been easier to suspend disbelief if the show had simply not mentioned anything about the internet at all. Believing that this walking stereotype can hack all the interwebz is extremely hard to swallow.