The Strain’s Episode 7 has the most interesting opening of them all. We see a new guy introduced who doesn’t feel suddenly out of place or forced, but directly related to characters we’ve already seen, namely the lawyer Joan Luss, who’d been infected and drove the Catholic maid, Neeva, out of the house with her own kids. This guy is Joan’s husband who just got back from a nineteen hour flight, and he and his cabbie are attacked by a vampire, in the dark of night, and when things start to get tense, the cabbie pulls out a gun and shoots it in the head.
Sadly, that character introduction was only important for the length of this episode, as Mr. Luss is found inches from death by Neeva, her daughter and the kids at the episode’s final stretch, but I’ll get to that later.
We get a new explanation of the Grandma’s silver bullets story from Abraham, and Eph is still somehow convinced that he’ll be able to show the video evidence to the public without suffering consequences. Abraham has a much simpler plan, one that’s almost medieval in nature, and one those in the audience who are gamers would easily understand: find the biggest bad of the bad guys, in this case “The Master,” and beat his ass back into oblivion, and then the problem will be solved. Of course Eph doesn’t think in the warrior’s way, as he claims “that makes no biological sense.” Fine, man, be a cleric in this event, for all I care.
Hey, at least there’s a goal now. I’m not going to lie, this scene was the one between Ephiram and Abraham that works the best, as it feels like a natural conflict between logic and faith, science against magic. In fact, it should have been a theme that the show came to grips with much earlier.
In this episode, we get more of the Poland flashback sequencing of Abraham’s time in the concentration camps. It gives us our first encounter between a young Abraham and Nazi Erichost, who feels straight out of an Indiana Jones villain roster with the costume on. Erichost finds an ornate traditional Jewish carving under Abraham’s bunk, and recruits him for a new project, which turns out to be the box we currently know as the one that houses Mulch Vamp – sorry, “The Master” – on his cross country trips. By the episode’s end, Young Abraham has finished the ornate box, but not without a ham sandwich and Erichost drunkenly talking World War II politics in between.
Gus is getting patted down naked by the police, attempting to claim self defense, and the cop’s response to him is probably my favorite line at this point in The Strain. When Gus tells him there’s weird shit going on out there, the cop relays, “It’s New York City, there’s always some weird shit going on.”
I’m also glad to see Jim suck up his betrayal and get into the action by joining Setrakain’s Scooby Gang (as I like to call the troop, shamelessly ripped off from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), completing his training by sending his wife away from the madness and being given a knife. It was bold of Jim to be able to encounter Erichost in a public space, and the tension was high now that we’ve gotten to see the vampire not as cool and collected as he usually is. In this episode, he gets pissed off, and it is the first time we get to see the potential of what Richard Sammel can do with the character rather than just be a bland Draculaic character, and with a rather interesting chase scene in the Grand Central subway, to boot.
This is certainly a sign of The Strain kicking things into high gear. It opened and closed with a couple of great action effects sequences, and built some proper characters for Erichost and Abraham by giving us their history together. Additionally, we got Ephiram’s whiny nature knocked down a peg by telling him to kick logic out the door.
It’s a big deal to say “the only gripe I have with the episode,” because that means it was exclusively one thing. That thing, however, was the ending, and it’s mostly because it caught me completely off guard, and I actually thought I was watching Arrow for a moment when the vampire bowman squad arrived on scene. As I’ve mentioned before, this show is hella campy. But at this point, it knows its own identity a little!
The Strain: Episode I – vii (7/10)