The Strain Review: Face The Master

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Vasiliy Fet is a character many book fans missed in the premiere. The second-generation Russian and NYC exterminator was given the honors of opening The Strain Season 1 Episode 2.

Kevin Durand brings a confident charm to the role I wasn't expecting. I'm going to dig his version of Fet.

When Gus arrived at his destination, I kept thinking remember the three rules dude. Don't open the damn box!

Several folks were a bit bothered that Bishop's body wasn't discovered last week. Well, the writers addressed his death fairly quickly in "The Box."

"Where's his head?" Jim asks. Ah it's that puddle of pulpy mushy mass lying on the floor above the guy's shoulders. I'm sure I would have barfed too. Poor Samwise, he's just not cut out for this kind of field work.

When Eph is explaining that Bishop was looking into the missing box and mentions an infectious agent, Jim seemed rattled. Didn't it feel like Eph picked up on his unease? This was a pretty clear sign Jim had no clue what was inside that box. Making sure it cleared security were probably his orders. However, what does the Stonehart Group have on him you think?

At the scene, Nora discovers traces of ammonia like on the plane. She describes it as "biological discharge." Eph likens it to tick shit. Therefore, I think it's safe to assume that as these guys consume their prey they simultaneously poop out the stuff they don't need. That's gross but efficient.

Director Barnes calls off the quarantine despite the fact that the survivors look as pasty white as those damn vamps in the Twilight movies. Naturally, the survivors just want to get back to their lives (Bolivar's got a concert to rehearse for) but they're all in some serious denial.

We soon learn that Regis Air documents were leaked online pointing to carbon monoxide poisoning as the cause of death. You might be thinking, that's a bit of a stretch. Can our government agencies be that dense? Well, Palmer seems to be not only wealthy but very well connected. When we meet the Secretary of Health and Human Services, it's obvious just how powerful the old man really is. Her explanation made sense, shut down New York's exports from the rest of the world and risk crashing our 70 billion dollar economy on a hunch? Yes, everyone's priority is to cover their own ass.

Meanwhile, Palmer is ready to meet The Master but Eichhorst needs to visit an old friend first. I loved the conversation between these two adversaries.

Eichhorst: You've grown old A230385. Surprised to see me?
Setrakian: It has been many years. You look exactly the same.

Eichhorst noticed right away that the old man's ticker is not what it used to be. Do you think we'll lose Setrakian before the end of the season? I sure hope not, I'm really enjoying David Bradley in this role. Sure, John Hurt was originally cast in the pilot but Bradley's made it his own.

A few things stood out to me during this conversation. The first was Eichhorst mentioning that The Master was watching Setrakian through his eyes. Clearly this is some sort of collective, like the Borg on Star Trek. There's a quick mention of the antique sword and Setrakian talks of killing Eichhorst's friend with it. The person who's heart sits in that jar at the pawn shop was killed by Eichhorst and he taunts the old man about it. In short, these two characters go back decades and I can't wait to see those flashbacks. Bring on the Nazi vampires del Toro/Hogan!

We were given a quick glimpse at Gus' family life. He adores his Mama, but clashes with his brother. I like that Crispin wasn't some random gangbanger robbing Setrakian's pawn shop but that he's actually Gus' brother. Crispin is a wreck but it's Gus that was locked away for 2 years. Gus seems to be a good guy who has made a few bad choices. What do you think landed him in prison so long?

How fantastic did those blood worms look under the microscope? Insane visual effects, you can tell this show has a decent budget right?

If these worms did infect the victims, then human blood should produce a tropic reaction.

Eph

When we check back in with Vasiliy, he's doing an inspection at a restaurant. He uses UV lights to detect rat urine in the kitchen. Yuck! Gordon Ramsay would so not approve. It's a good thing this guy has all the necessary equipment as the shit is seriously about to hit the fan.

At that same restaurant, Bolivar and his agent Ruby (the amazingly talented Regina King) are having lunch with attorney Joan Luss. The two survivors complain about the humming in their ears. Is this The Master attempting to contact them or simply another symptom of the infection? Joan's eyes are looking pretty bloodshot and her gums bleed. Yep there's no question that a metamorphosis is kicking in big time.

Bolivar is having trouble getting it up for his groupie orgy and a chunk of hair falls out. I remember that scene clearly from the book. It played out exactly as I imagined it and watching Jack Kesy lick the blood off his fingers and floor was chilling.

At least Captain Redfern is being a bit more cooperative. We now realize he knew about the box, but he didn't question it as officials in Berlin tend to load last minute cargo from time to time. Redfern goes to see Eph's doctor pal and feels like he's boiling up. Using UV light, Eph discovers the pilot has the same small scar as the dead passengers. Nora spots the blood worms slithering along below his skin. Neat effect right?

The only moment that seemed a little off to me was the French man, Arnot, calling to thank Eph for sending Emma home. I guess the writers needed to bring those characters back in somehow but it felt weird to me.

I didn't mind the AA meeting scene with Eph. We're obviously meant to sympathize with him and Corey Stoll is a treat to watch. The visit to his old house to talk to his son about the custody hearing was great as well. This is a good guy, we understand that when he tells Matt to make his family happy. I was surprised when Matt hugged him though. Drew Nelson's managed to make Matt likeable, something I never felt while reading the book.

Sadly, you get the feeling things are not going to go well for Eph in that hearing. I'm looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

Palmer finally comes face to face with The Master. Why do you think he was scared shitless? Is the creature that scary to look at?

You brought me all the way here. Now you're going to look at me.

The Master

After trying to get in touch Dr. Bennett at the medical coroner's office and failing miserably, Eph and Nora decide to visit the morgue. How disturbing was it to see all the empty body bags? I'm sure Eph and Nora now realize what's going on. These things are not dead at all.

We close with the little French girl, Emma, feeding on dear ol' dad. The camera work in that sequence was absolutely brilliant. It felt almost like watching a comic book come to life. Will Eph decide to check in with the Arnot's and learn what they've become? He has to see that stinger at some point right?

You're up The Strain Fanatics, hit the comments and share your thoughts on "The Box." Post your answers to some of my crazy theories below. Remember, if you've read the books please avoid spoiling the show for others. Let's stick to episode 2 here, thanks.

Want to check out the premiere again? You're in luck, you can Watch The Strain online right here at TV Fanatic!

Do you think the blood worms induce a state of hibernation?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (19 Votes)

Henry A. Otero is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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The Strain Season 1 Episode 2 Quotes

Eichhorst: You've grown old A230385. Surprised to see me?
Setrakian: It has been many years. You look exactly the same.

If these worms did infect the victims, then human blood should produce a tropic reaction.

Eph