‘The Strain’ 1.09 Recap: “There’s Power in Naming Things”

After two weeks of what seemed to be an upswing in quality, ‘The Strain’ mostly spins its wheels this week in what essentially amounts to a placeholder episode while we wait for more important events to happen in the upcoming season finale.

Because viewers had probably forgotten that he existed, episode ‘The Disappeared’ reunites Eph with his son. The child is such an interesting, well-developed character that I have no idea what his name is. If it was mentioned, I have consistently failed to take note of it. We’ll just call him “Kid.”

Kid apparently spent the day with his mother’s friend, Not Fran Drescher. (That’s not her name either, but who can care?) Not Fran Drescher is totally oblivious to everything happening in the world around her, and drops Kid off at home to a darkened house with someone or something creepily skulking around the windows. Bye, Kid! See ya later!

The thing in the house is Matt, the now-vampirized boyfriend of Kid’s mother. He attacks Kid. Fortunately, Eph and company happen to arrive just then in their hijacked bread truck. Eph decapitates Matt with a shovel right in front of his son. The boy, clearly a budding sociopath, isn’t fazed by this at all.

Eph introduces his son to Setrakian, and the boy is fascinated when the old man tells him about vampires. Eph sends them away to Setrakian’s pawn shop, while he and Nora stay behind to dispose of Matt’s body. Setrakian instructs them to burn it, so naturally they wrap it up in plastic first… because that will make it so much easier to burn (??).

The bread truck makes a pit stop to drop off Hacker Chick at her apartment. Vasiliy (who goes by his last name, “Fet,” presumably to foreshadow that he will eventually get killed off by stupidly stumbling backwards right into a monster’s mouth) walks her upstairs… you know, to make sure it’s safe inside. And if her clothes were to somehow accidentally fall off when they get there, he’d be very chivalrous and offer to keep her warm with his body heat.

Well, that doesn’t happen. Instead, Hacker Chick gets very pissy when she discovers that her girlfriend has stolen all her money and her laptop. When a vamped-out neighbor wanders in and Fet has to kill him, he and Hacker Chick head back to the bread truck and hightail it to Setrakian’s shop. I guess everybody’s on the team now.

Back at the house, Eph and Nora wait around hoping that Eph’s ex-wife will come home. To bide the time, they decide to have sex on the ex-wife’s bed. Corey Stoll’s wig very nearly falls off when it gets tousled. For some reason, Not Fran Drescher stops by again and walks in on them. She and Eph exchange words. Eventually, Eph and Nora give up and make their way to the pawn shop. How they get there without the bread truck or any other form of transportation is not explained.

Elsewhere, gang-banger Gus and his very sick friend Felix are loaded onto a truck with some other criminals for transport from the jail to Riker’s Island. (Wouldn’t they have to make a court appearance in between or something?) Halfway there, Felix goes full vamp and kills the guards, causing the truck to crash. Gus frees himself and steals a guard’s gun. Feeling a little bad about it, he shoots Felix in the head and runs off. He feels less bad about leaving the other prisoners chained to the truck. They were jerks anyway.

So, let’s see what we’ve accomplished this episode: 1) Our main characters have moved from Point A (the ex-wife’s house) to Point B (Setrakian’s shop), when they probably could have gone straight to the shop instead and saved a lot of time; 2) They pick up Eph’s son, who is annoying and will not serve any narrative purpose other than to get in everyone’s way; and 3) Gus, who was arrested under very contrived circumstances in the first place, is now free again, negating any point to his storyline.

To give it some credit, the episode has a pretty good flashback storyline in 1944, which shows how young Setrakian tried to confront the Master vampire, only to utterly fail and get his hands crushed in the process. He and most of the other Jewish prisoners escape when the concentration camp is liberated. Eichorst flees to a secret bunker in the woods where he has stored the coffin that he made Setrakian build. The Master returns and Eichorst begs to be turned into a vampire.

Unfortunately, even this bit is spoiled when the Master pulls off his hood to finally reveal the true horror of his appearance and… oh dear, that creature makeup is terribly goofy.

What were the show’s producers thinking with that? I mean, I guess that it’s supposed to be a cross between Max Schreck in the original ‘Nosferatu’ and Voldemort in the ‘Harry Potter’ movies, but it just looks very rubbery and disproportionate and awful.

Ugh. Not good.

[Screengrap of the Master found at TVLine.]


  1. That mouth on the vampire at the end. I felt like it was going to just start flapping around like a muppet. Totally doesn’t work. I am at a loss as to why Guillermo would have allowed that face to be designed, built, shot, and shown on TV.

  2. Peter

    Two episodes ago they end with this crazy, supposedly good vampire-like death squad, then do absolutely nothing with them for not one but TWO WHOLE EPISODES??? I am still watching and there are parts of the show I like but it really tries one’s patience.

  3. J.W.

    Did you even read the book, you moron? Yes, the creature appears abnormal, and if you read the book, you would realize why. The “makeup” matches with what the creatures looks like in the book. It’s very clear that watch video but do not know how to read. Your reviews are worthless and a waste of your typing skills (or lack thereof).

    • Josh Zyber

      Dude, just look at the thing. It looks like a stupid rubber Halloween mask. Regardless of what the intention was, the execution is terrible.

      I did read the first book, FYI. It sucked. For all its many faults, the TV show has generally been slightly better than the book. Except for this monster face, which is just a joke.

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