‘The Strain’ 1.08 Recap: “New York City Is an Open Buffet”

A lot of the summer TV programming we cover in this blog has wrapped up for the season, and of those shows still going, some decided to sit out the holiday weekend. Fortunately, FX didn’t want to leave us completely hanging, so the network offered up a new episode of ‘The Strain’ on Sunday night.

I feel like this series is finally on an upswing. Last week’s episode was the first that I thought was genuinely good without any qualms or reservations. Likewise, this week’s new episode left me with little to complain about… well, not much, anyway. I suppose I must admit that ‘Creatures of the Night’ is, for the most part, a bottle episode that keeps the show’s wheels spinning without advancing any of the major storylines very much.

We pick up immediately after Eichorst escaped on a subway train. Eph, Nora, Jim and Setrakian regroup and try to formulate a new plan. Upon learning that sunlight is deadly to the vamps, Eph comes up with a very logical idea (rare for a character in this show) to simulate sunlight with UV lamps.

The group heads to a medical supply shop, which is unfortunately closed. They break in, only to run into Vasiliy the exterminator, who had much the same idea. When Eph explains who they are, Vasiliy agrees to give them half the lamps he was in the process of swiping. He doesn’t have any interest in hanging around with them beyond that, though.

Before the parties can go their separate ways, a swarm of vampires descends upon them, driving them into a gas station convenience store, where they barricade themselves in with, of all people, the hacker chick who shut off the internet in the city. How convenient that she happens to be there.

The rest of the episode could essentially be called ‘Assault on Kwik-E-Mart 13’. Our heroes try to defend their compromised position against an ever-escalating threat as more and more vampires are drawn toward them. Jim gets nicked on the cheek by a vampire, and although he seems fine, Eph spots a worm crawling under his skin. He and Nora work quickly to extract it before the infection can take hold. After an apparent success, they think that they might just have a possible treatment protocol for the newly infected. No such luck, sadly. Later, they’ll discover dozens more worms already in Jim.

Jim begs for them to kill him before he can turn into a mindless vampire. Eph and Nora refuse, and insist that they need to get him to a hospital to attempt anti-parasitic drugs. An unsentimental pragmatist, Vasiliy shoots Jim in the head to put him down. He’s not taking any chances.

Nora and Eph freak out about that, of course, but they don’t have long to argue with Vasiliy. Vampires knock out a power line to cut the electricity to the shop. With only a few minutes charge on their UV lamps, all of our heroes make a break for a bread truck in the parking lot, setting a bunch of vampires on fire with gasoline and blowing up the gas pumps in a pretty badass action sequence.

I have a few quibbles with the episode. The convenience store clerk is an annoying fucking idiot the entire episode (even more so than that cab driver last week), and refuses to leave his little booth when the vampires are clearly on the verge of destroying the place. He deserves his death. As the good guys are leaving, they manage to pump some gas even though we were just told that the vampires had cut the power. Further, a joke is made of the fact that they have to use a credit card to get the pump to work, yet it was previously established in the episode that credit card authorizations weren’t functioning. In both cases, it’s like the episode’s writers deliberately set themselves up to trip over their own plotting.

I suppose Jim dying is a major event, though his character no longer served any purpose and makes an awfully convenient sacrifice. The episode also brings Vasiliy and the hacker girl together with Eph’s group to join the team, which is probably important. Beyond that, however, the episode doesn’t move the show’s narrative forward very far. I’m dying to know more about those ninja commando vampires from last week! When do we get to see more of them?

Regardless, it’s a good episode, very suspenseful and mostly well scripted. This is what an average episode of the series should be. Now we just need to work on making some great episodes and dumping the crappy ones.

6 comments

  1. I like the idea of the show. The credit card and electricity being unavailable before they use the gas pump annoyed the hell out of me too. But I like the idea of a parasite turning people into first zombie-like creatures, then vampires. It’s intriguing. I just wish they’d fix the holes in the story line. That’s the only thing that would make me start to question the show. It’s that annoying to me. But I’ll keep watching and see where it goes.

  2. PaulB

    My main issue, besides the constant ‘wtf’ things that don’t make sense like the power and credit card (and a one that pops to mind like previous episode where the wife comes in from the snow and strips down to her bra because she is all sweaty..), is that the humans act nothing like humans. Like the bad stereotype they had in the quick-e-mart or any of the people who saw the videos or the creations in action or.. I can get over bad plot and some horrible writing/directing if other elements are good but at least make the humans act like humans or I am always going to get pulled out of it.

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