The Strain Recap 1.5 & 1.6: Two For One As Things Pick Up

The_Strain_Early_Promotional_ArtFINALLY! The last couple of weeks have been kind of hectic for me, so of course I fell behind on the one show that I decided to recap weekly. And of course, this happens to coincide with The Strain really taking off and getting on track. With these last two episodes- “Runaways” and “Occultation”- we’re finally getting where we want to be, and the show is delivering very nicely on it’s intended goal. In short, lots of Abraham and lots of mounting creepiness leaves me a happy camper.

Numerous moments in “Runaways” do a better job of defining the characters than their more long-winded counterparts in episodes past. Eph’s story about selling the watch from his father-in-law to buy a truck for work does more to summarize his detachment from his family than anything else so far. And Nora’s scenes with her mother, otherwise pointless, establishes a more personal parallel between her and Eph (being unable to be there for family because of work) and balances out her level of backstory with everyone else’s. Abraham’s long-awaited flashbacks, while unfortunately light on confrontations with Eichorst, seamlessly combine the real horror of the Holocaust with the otherworldly fright of The Master.

This level of concise quality also carries over to the secondary characters and subplots. The fate of Ansel and his wife is wrapped up much quicker than anticipated, in striking (but very sobering) fashion. And the final turning of Bolivar and Lawyer Lady into strigori signals another shift, and I’m curious to see what happens to them as the plague progresses- it should certainly make their subplots much more interesting. It was momentarily disappointing that Eph and Abraham split their efforts, but also justified by character, which should be the priority. Eph’s chosen path is to turn back to the authorities for help, but it’s unsurprising that Eph’s trust in the system backfires on him, considering how well-planned and all-encompassing Palmer and Eichorst’s plan is.

For “Occultation”, the cold open sequence is quick and beautiful, reminiscent of the open to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and just as sobering in its content. And in this episode we finally see Eph’s homelife stories pay off, as the tensions and conflicts there are what deliver him back into the hands of the FBI (the moment in the pilot where his wife’s boyfriend lets him get ticketed out of spite ends up being a nice little foreshadowing to his obnoxious actions here). We get more Abraham the Vampire Slayer, which is always a good thing, but in this case there is also the good humanizing moment of Abraham becoming sick and losing his medication in a fight. It’s a moment that reminds us that for all his knowledge and skill, Abraham is not the ideal warrior against this enemy anymore, and will definitely need help. Meanwhile, Vasiliy’s continued pragmatism as he becomes more and more aware of the threat is refreshing and exciting, and continues to suggest that he will be a major asset in the battles to come. And finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t call attention to our latest glimpse into Eichorst’s homelife, another short and upsetting sequence that really sticks with you. By the end of the episode, we get to see the cast continue to mix and mingle in intriguing ways that definitely tells us the net is tightening.

Overall these were another solid couple of episodes that keeps things moving forward. With the eclipse finally hitting- and widespread strigori violence along with it- it feels like MAYBE the show is finally picking up the pace. But I think it should be safe to assume at this point that The Strain is going to keep working at the same restrained pace that it’s been at all season, and we should either take it or leave it. If nothing else, we now have our core team together- Abraham, Eph and Nora- and as long as they stay together and pursue a single goal, the show should feel a lot more focused and unified going forward.

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