The Strain sees the light

strain

Who in the name of Guillermo del Toro decided to turn up the dial on Sunday’s episode of The Strain? The B-rated horror hijinks were in our face, the gross-outs were some of the most stomach-churning yet, and the vamp slaying and action scenes were at an all-time high thanks to the use of UV-C lights and surgery with a box cutter. Heck, Eph and the gang even managed to blow up an entire body shop, driving away from the scene of destruction in their own wacky version of the infamous “cool guys walking away from an explosions” scene. However, the most important thing about Sunday’s episode was undoubtedly the fact that we FINALLY have a gang of vampire hunters assembled–even if they are already down a member.

Since Vasiliy Fet showed up on the scene, I’ve anticipated the moment he would joined forces with Abraham, Eph and Nora in some no-holds vampire hunting. Viewers were finally graced with that moment thanks to a not-so-classic meet-cute, with everyone trying to loot the same medical supply store for UV-C lights. What was most refreshing about Vasiliy joining the gang was that rather than dragging out a denial of the vampire situation like we’ve seen with Ephram and Nora, Vasiliy was right by Abraham’s side, slaying Strigoi without any ounce of apprehension.

Of course a gang needs to go through a right of passage together–think team bonding–in order to fully become a group entity. In the case of “Creatures of the Night” it was trying to survive the night in a body garage surrounded by vamps, all acting as surveillance vessels for The Master. The scenes may have given me serious flashbacks to some of the stuff The Walking Dead has done before, but what makes the Strigoi different than Walkers is that the infected can actually fight back, like the one that threw the cart into the window to break in. More than that, the Strigoi showed they’re capable of devising a distraction, when they cut the power to the body shop and stopped the UV-C lights from charging. It almost raises the stakes of the survival (slash group bonding experience), knowing these creatures actually had their stuff together.

Unfortunately not everyone could make it out of the night from hell alive. I’ve gotta say that seeing Jim infected with the strain under the UV-C light wasn’t much of a surprise, what with how defensive he got about the “scratch” on his cheek. I mean, the quota for gross-out scenes was nowhere near met by that point, so you had to see some kind of bloody surgery on the way. And as nasty as it was watching Eph dig into Jim’s cheek with a box cutter and remove the worm, the scene was more about seeing Eph save Jim, essentially putting Jim back into his good books (or at least showing that he’s worthy of saving to Eph). What I didn’t see coming, however, was the unveiling of Jim’s back, crawling with worms and leaving him too far infected to save.

Unfortunately the problem with Jim’s death in Episode 8 was that we never saw the man do anything really great, or ever see him stick his neck out to save his friends, ultimately leaving me pretty low on remorse for the guy. Since Day 1 Jim has been the CDC’s weakest link, even if he was motivated by trying to save his dying wife. But all-in-all the scene mostly just made me appreciate Vasiliy’s quick reflexes with a gun while loathing how much time Ephram and Nora wasted trying to convince Jim chemo might save him.

With the team bonding over, we now have a solid group of heroes armed with a stolen bread truck and rechargeable lights. If that doesn’t get your vampire-loving blood pumping for the next stage on this show, I don’t know what will.

Straining for more:

  • Best line of the night: “The bread truck is our only hope!”
  • Anyone else think of Filch and Parseltongue when Abraham started speaking that language?
  • Loved that the first girl was easily able to avoid the vampires like some game of Frogger and get away.
  • I howled watching the parallel scenes between Abraham, Vasiliy, Eph and Nora fighting the vamps while Jim was trying to rip open the extension chord packs. Oh, Jim. I’ll miss you. Maybe.

The Strain airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on FX and FX Canada.

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