‘The Strain’ 1.05 Recap: “Evil Lurks in This World”

The problem with creating a movie or TV show set in the present day with a character who’s a Holocaust survivor is that, in order for the math to work, he’d have to be impractically old to still be plausible as an action hero of sorts.

When this came up in the ‘X-Men’ movies, for example, we can shrug off the problem because Magneto is a mutant and presumably lives and stays virile longer than an average human. Unfortunately, ‘The Strain’ doesn’t have quite so convenient an excuse.

When we were first told that the Setrakian character was a Holocaust survivor, I assumed that he must have been an infant or at least a very young child at the time. (Actor David Bradley was born in 1942.) However, this week’s episode gives us a flashback that shows him as a young man of at least 17 or 18 in 1944. By my very simple calculations, Setrakian would have to be around 87-years-old now. Is that plausible, given the way he’s portrayed in the show? Sure, he’s supposed to be an old man, but there’s a considerable difference between an old man in his early 70s versus an old man in his late 80s. I could buy the former running around beheading vampires, but I have a harder time buying the latter. Is that just me being ageist?

This is a suspension-of-disbelief problem for me. What really gets me about it is that the whole issue could have been easily avoided by making Setrakian a younger child in the flashbacks.

Anyway, episode ‘Runaways’ was directed by RoboCop himself, Peter Weller. He gives us a lot of scenes in the Concentration Camp where teenage Setrakian first encounters the supernatural, in the form of a vampire that chows down on Jewish prisoners in their bunks while they sleep – its actions hidden among all the other death that occurred there routinely. Was this Eichorst or the Master? That much is not specifically confirmed.

Back in the present day, the elderly Setrakian explains to Ephraim what they’re really dealing with. Eph immediately asks if the monsters are vampires. Setrakian prefers the Romanian term “strigoi,” but yeah, he confirms that vampires are real. He also tells Eph that a Master vampire controls all the others and is at the root of the plague. For a man of science, Eph gets on board with this story about the supernatural really quickly.

Eph insists that he needs video evidence of the effects of vampirism in order to convince his superiors at the CDC to quarantine the city. The two men head to Ansel’s house, where they find that his wife has hung herself, presumably out of guilt for killing their neighbor. (I guess that storyline’s not going any further.) Armed with a nail gun that shoots silver nails, the men investigate noises in the shed, where they discover Ansel still chained up, along with the now-turned neighbor cowering in the corner. Setrakian beheads both and burns down the shed.

With the video he needed, Eph heads back to the CDC. Unfortunately, rather than listen to his pleas for quarantine, his boss calls the cops. It seems that security camera footage of Eph dragging Capt. Redfern’s dead body through the hospital basement has gotten him in some hot water. I imagine that the new video of he and Setrakian beheading two dudes probably won’t help matters. In a bid for redemption, Jim helps Eph escape from the building before the police arrive. Eph is still pissed at him, but asks him to keep pressuring their boss on the quarantine issue.

Elsewhere, rocker Gabriel Bolivar attacks and eats the urologist who makes a house call to take a look at his diseased dick. (Apparently, nobody told her that it fell clean off.) His assistant flees the building and calls Bolivar’s manager, who assumes that he’s on some kind of drug rampage and sends a “cleaner” to eliminate evidence of the murder. Bolivar eats that guy too.

The bitchy lawyer lady is the least monsterized of the four plane survivors, but still insists that she’s fine even though she’s extremely sick. Her housekeeper gets scared by her and takes the woman’s children away.

Nora visits her mother, who has dementia, in a nursing home when a vampire attacks the place. Meanwhile, Vasiliy goes searching for rats in the sewers and finds a horde of scary vampire zombies that he barely escapes from. The plague is clearly spreading.

Overall, this is a decent episode. The scenes in the Concentration Camp are suitably creepy. Unfortunately, the fundamental problems with the series still remain: I just don’t care about any of the characters, and I have yet to see anything that goes beyond just “creepy” or atmospheric to becoming genuinely scary.

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