‘The Strain’ 1.04 Recap: “This Is Disgusting”

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.


  1. carg0

    yea, overall, i have to agree w/everything u said here, Josh. i mean, i’m still sticking around because i’ve read & enjoyed the books, so my tolerance for all the inadequacies are much more tempered.

    i feel the show really blew a huge moment to truly expound on the gravity of the character’s plight during the autopsy.

    here we finally have what is about the hit the city (and soon the world) with a force unlike anything ever seen and… *short fart noise* :
    – remarkably insipid dialogue
    – the body & organs didn’t look anywhere near as convincing as it should’ve (your “rubber mold” comment, spot on)
    – the acting was pretty terrible (no convincing astonishment, awe or fear at what they were looking at)
    – and the whole scene lasted (i kid you not) 20 seconds. unbelievably INEXCUSABLE when you consider the comically too-long scenes we got w/Ansel & his wife & the ridiculously pointless scene w/Gus. vampires are scheming w/humans to take over the world and… we’re following Gus as he and his friend steal a car? WTF?

    • Josh Zyber

      Some fake blood and fluids would really have added a lot of texture and ickiness to the gore. Look at the vampire deaths on True Blood. There’s no question that this one looked much “faker” (for lack of a better word) than that show. I really wonder if this was a basic cable vs pay cable issue. Perhaps the network wouldn’t let the producers get too gory or realistic-looking.

      • Yeah, but they curse a lot, so they are still edgy, right? Everything you said is true, yet I am able to suspend my disbelief a little more I guess. But the highly religious wife who is deathly afraid of disease, yet seems totally ok with a homicidal mutant husband and murdering her neighbor seemed really out of whack. They had not shown any transition at all with those characters other than bare bones clues. This show is definitely feeling rushed and could do with the patience that shows like Game of Thrones and Walking Dead have exhibited. But I still find it goofy fun, just hope it gets better.

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