The Strain Episode #1.2: The Box Recap
Guillermo del Toro’s films have always been heavy on atmosphere. The Strain looks like it’s going to be no different. Instead of jumping right into the vampire apocalypse, the show doesn’t throw you directly into the plot. This episode was a slow build, which I found really enjoyable. The more you hype up what is to come, the more interested I will be. All I can ask is for the payoff to be worth that hype.
The Box Brief Episode Summary
The four survivors in quarantine start showing unusual symptoms. However, Everett overrides Eph’s attempts to quarantine them. Meanwhile, an old friend visits Abraham.. [x]
Eph and His Family
Eph means well and it’s clear that he really loves his family. Both his and his wife’s reasons and reactions to the split are valid. Kelly wants more support and she wants someone who would be present in her life. Eph on the other hand has an important job and as he explained in the previous episode: “When he doesn’t go in to work, people die.” Their son Zach manages to be the middle ground and the most level headed character out of three of them. He gets where both his parents are coming from and tries to become that balance. It’s a rough place for a kid, but I can’t help but respect him.
In the book Kelly comes off as being extremely underdeveloped. She’s only there to nag Eph about how much of an incompetent husband and father he is. She’s not as bad in the show. It’s clear she loves Eph, but she wants to be happy herself and doesn’t want to keep being side-lined. Yet, the two actors have such insane chemistry it’s almost distracting. This chemistry undercuts their reasons for the divorce.
Also worth mentioning is Matt, Kelly’s new live-in boyfriend. He works in retail which Eph sneers at. Kelly on the other hand reminds him that Matt is able to keep his work at work and has time to spend with her and Zach. The audience is forced to side with Eph on this one, since it’s through him that the scene is framed. We only see what Eph wants us to see. Matt is trying hard to make everything work but to Eph he’s a parasite invading his family (do you get it?). What I love the most about this set up is the reversal. Normally in narratives we’re faced with an evil step-mother or an “unpleasant” new girlfriend. It was nice to see the tables turned. It also gives us a better grasp on Eph’s character, he’s selfish and a little bit arrogant. Yet these characteristics don’t damn him.
When we last left off with Abraham Setrakian, he was being arrested. The show finds him sitting in the drunk tank, keeping to himself. A police officer informs him that his lawyer is here to speak with him. Setrakian doesn’t have a lawyer but with nothing else to lose he goes to see his guest. This leads to one of best scenes in the episode.
Setrakian’s visitor is none other than Eichorst the German vampire. It turns out the two of them have a long past together. Eichorst is so good at being creepy and taunts Setrakian through the glass.
For every shot Eichorst makes Setrakian has a comeback. There is a lot of chemistry between these two characters and you can believe that they have been adversaries for years. Their confrontation ends on a standstill. Eichorst shows he is strong enough to break the glass between them with a tap of the finger, while Setrakian reminds him that he killed one of Eichorst’s colleagues. When these two face each other later, it’s going to be a spectacle.
Round Table of the Infected
At this point in the game, the spread of misinformation has started. The CDC has ruled out the idea of an outbreak and instead believes that the dead plane was caused by a carbon monoxide leak. Eph and his team are taken off the case and the cover up begins.
The survivors are released from quarantine and meet up for dinner and drinks, you know, as you do. The thing is, things aren’t exactly as peachy keen as they’re trying to make it out to be. They’re as pale as a sheets, they have bloody eyes. Clearly there’s nothing wrong with them. The survivors are visibly ill and they’re hearing ringing in their ears. But, they just refuse to admit there is something wrong with them. Joan Luss is going as far as filing a law suit against the airline.
Let’s focus on Bolivar for this.
Bolivar looks most like himself. He’s a rock star known for his pasty white appearance. And though he seems to be holding up the best, it is him who we get to see slip. He asks his manager to send up some groupies for him to mess around with. This sequence is set up pretty well. Our Goth Rocker gives into the new urge that’s permeating his brain and bites one of the girls. The girls freak out (as you d0) and storm out, leaving Bolivar alone. Bolivar proceeds to like the floor clean of blood. Buddy, you clearly have a problem. You should probably go see a Doctor. Just saying.
Yeah, You’re Pretty Much Doomed
Unlike his fellow survivors, Captain Redfern is willing to admit there is something wrong with him. Redfern willingly gives himself over to Eph and Nora to be studied. As the episode progresses he begins to deteriorate quickly. He seems like a decent enough fellow, but it’s clear that he is pretty much doomed.
The Rat Catcher
Some people just love their jobs, we’re looking at you Mr. Rat Catcher. Vasily Fet is an exterminator who loves his job. We meet him on the job at a fancy restaurant downtown with a rat infestation. Fet is one of the main characters from the novel and Kevin Durand brings him to life on the screen. Vasily Fet is charismatic, he’s funny and I’m so excited to see how he mixes in with the other characters when they eventually all form together to become a vampire hunting dream team.
On the Topic of Worms
Eph and Nora get their hands on a sample of the parasitic worms and begin to study them. We get to see the worms in action. Eph feeds them some blood and the things go into a frenzy. It’s almost cute to watch the worms try and get to the blood that Eph is offering them.
This image is totally shattered when our heroes look at the worms under a microscope. The parasites appearance mimics that of what they adapt the human form into. They have little mini stingers that suck in the blood. It’s pretty horrifying.
Eph is slow on accepting what exactly is happening. He tries to reach the coroner from the previous episode (you know, the one he doomed). When the man isn’t answering his phone, Eph and Nora head to the hospital. Eph blows off all of Nora’s theories on what might be happening. Clearly this is going to come back and bite him in the ass.
We All Make Mistakes
The weakest story line so far has to be Gus’s. Gus is tasked with moving the Box (the Master’s coffin) from quarantine to Manhattan. My major problem with Gus is that he feels one sided and relies heavily on stereotypes. He’s a tough guy with a heart of gold who loves his mother more than anyone else. You know, the standard stuff. Hopefully as the series progresses he will become less of a one note character and feel more like a person. So far he’s the only character who feels like he needs work.
But honestly, wouldn’t you be suspicious if you had to move a box like this in secret?
Maybe This Was A Bad Idea
Maybe inviting the scary vampire monster into Manhattan was a bad plan. Eldritch Palmer finally gets to meet the creature that he’s thrown his lot in with. Honestly, I’m surprised to see that Palmer escaped this encounter alive. Palmer is brought to an undisclosed abandoned location only to have the Master show off just how powerful he is. The Master can move really fast and towers over everyone else in the room. Palmer gets a view of the Master’s face but we do not. The audience only sees him from behind. He’s extremely pale and has big bat like ears. It reminded me of F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu.
The Master speaks and I love the way his voice sounded. The Master’s voice was multiple voices mixed into one. It makes a lot of sense seeing as the vampire plague is a hive mind of worms. His voice is clever and it’s creepy and I don’t know how Palmer didn’t run away screaming.
The Creepiest Scene in the Episode:
The last episode ended with a little girl who had died during on the plane return to her grieving father. She looked, sounded and acted like a walking corpse, going as far as to compain that she felt cold. The little girl takes the award for the creepiest moment in this episode.
The little curl is in the bathtub. The water is a milky colour that almost matches the tone of her skin. The girl’s father comes in and is chattering at her, trying to act like everything is normal when it is clearly not. She is almost completely submerged except for her eyes and nose. She looks like a crocodile or any other predator that is just waiting for their prey to fall into their trap. He asks his daughter if she is hungry and she says yes.
The girl lunges at him, her stinger shooting out of her mouth to drain him dry. While the father falls to the ground and the girl sinks back under the water, leaving a small stream of blood leaving her mouth.
This sequence is beautifully staged and shot. It’s not only the creepiest part of the episode but the best looking.
Thoughts on Stingers
When I read the book I pictured the vampire stingers as cable like. They would shoot out of the mouth of the vampire incredibly fast and would be incredibly thin and unnatural looking. The show went a little more gory. The stingers we have seen have been as thick as an arm and very muscular. They end in what looks like a claw that clamps onto the victim as they drain them dry. There are many similsrities between these stingers and lamprays.
Go on, what this video. Tell me how you feel.
For me these stingers are a little less creepy than what I envisioned in my head. The worms on the other hand are terrifying. If the Strain continues to show the worms crawling along people and trying to burrow under their skin, then we may have a problem.
Episode two was a slow build to another great reveal. I’m glad that we’re taking time to get to know how characters tick. It’ll make their relationships feel more realistic when they start interacting. The cast on this show is great and loaded down with chemistry. My only question is… when are we going to see the Master’s face?
Next week we’ll probably get a closer look at the vampire’s physiology, which promises to be both interesting and disgusting. I can’t wait.
Stay tuned next week for our look at episode three: Gone Smooth.