This summer’s Amazing Spider-Man 2 is one of the worst offenders I’ve ever seen of plot convenience (as has been detailed over the internet since its Blu-ray release), but in terms of a plot-point-to-runtime ratio, this week’s episode of The Strain is pretty high up there. Not to say they were never present leading up to this point, but the convenience offenses in “The Disappeared” weren’t even attempted to be concealed, to the point that it should have been called “The Convenience”, despite that last episode being set in the Kwik-E-Mart. (Hey, I didn’t say it, Fet did).
So what happens in the first five minutes? Zach arrived at home, dropped off by his mom’s sassy Brooklyn friend, and discovered the house in shambles. He was then suddenly attacked by Kelly’s asshole boyfriend, Matt, who we haven’t seen, thankfully, for two episodes. So, at this point, you assume the 10-year-old is dead meat, yes? Wrong!
Convenience number one: Ephraim and the Mystery Machine (this is barely a joke anymore – they’re actually driving a Wonder Bread van) arrive at Kelly’s house moments later, and he runs in to save his son, killing the vampire shell of the guy nobody ever even cared about.
Since we’re on a roll driving over neatly placed vampire corpses, Fet decides to give Dutch, the hacker extraordinaire, a ride to her apartment, where she find that her roommate took every piece of data, encrypted files and 00000001 mumbo jumbo. That’s right, the expert hacker who had the ability to literally shut down all possible internet in the city is apparently not intelligent enough to keep several backups of this hyper-sensitive information, or know enough to keep it with her. Of course, the roommate most likely took off with the important information because their apartment building begins to have new infected lumbering about, so Dutch and Fet high tail it after our second Vamp kill of the week. Smooth moves, Mr. Pretender.
Obviously Nora, as the boulder of Sisyphus throughout this show, spent the entire episode being emotionally distraught over dear hobbit Jim’s death from last week, which I suppose is not a bad move on the show-runner’s part, because everyone else seemed to have forgotten it so quickly. After burning Matt’s body, and sending Zach off with Setrakian and a hundred loaves of cushiony bread for safety, Eph takes the opportunity to have a “porking session” with the emotionally fragile Nora – on Kelly’s bed! Basically, this week is Mr. Goodweather’s free ticket for a power trip, and nobody really even seemed to notice. His real hair may have even started growing back, for all I know. This is where we hit Convenience Number Three, when, for no reason at all, Kelly’s sassy friend Diana decides to walk into the house and up into the room where Eph and Nora are laying on the bed practically nude; but there’s no shame during the end of the world, I suppose.
My final griping at this show’s “conveniencing” this week is in the flashback sequences to young Abraham in Poland, 1944. Obviously, I knew when the flashbacks began that there would not be much more time spent in the concentration camp than necessary, as 1944 was nearing the end of World War II. I found that young Abraham’s encounter with The Master and having his fingers crushed was a great building of tension and despair, but I found myself smirking like an omniscient scruffy nerf herder when the Allied bombers began to fly over at the exact moment before the Nazis could fire their shots into the back of Setrakian’s head.
In regards to the rest of the episode, it was nice to see Abraham trying to have a heart to heart conversation with Zach about the tragic nature of these awful creatures, and I enjoyed seeing his natural chemistry with Vassili Fet, mainly in their determination to get the messy work done.
Gus, meanwhile, was being transported to a new facility, while his friend, who I’m still going to call Fluffy, was becoming sicker by the minute until he started waving that nasty stinger at everybody. Once he was freed of his cuffs and the cops were dead, Gus put his hermano out of his misery and then ran off into the night, never to be seen… for a couple more episodes, I assume.
Having recently rewatched Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, I started having a strange blurring of Richard Sammel and Christoph Waltz playing Nazis, not to put all performances of such characters into one generic basket, but that’s my own problem. Despite this, it was exciting to see a build-up of discovering the tomb Eichorst would hide in with the newly carved soil box for The Master, and his induction into the Mulch Vamp Occult.
Finally, upon the conclusion of “The Disappeared” we get our first good look at The Master and it looks like… something made by Guillermo Del Toro, I guess.
Truly, what came to my mind was like a cross between Nosferatu and the Green Goblin. Actually, Green Goblin is too much credit; maybe the Hobgoblin. Does anyone remember him?
“The Disappeared” did what I hoped it wouldn’t after last week’s riveting “Creatures of the Night.” We’re now 9 episodes through a 13 episode season, and I’m still waiting for something more. We’ve gotten to see our main baddie face to face, we know what Eichorst is capable of, and all our main characters no longer need convincing of “Oh my God, we’re dealing with Vampires.”
Two weeks ago, Abraham told us he had a plan to kill The Master, and we have no clue what it is yet, so let’s see that before we go anywhere else, shall we?
The Strain episode I – ix “The Disappeared” (6.5/10)