The Strain Review: Terror at Treblinka

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This week, The Strain really began to differentiate itself via flashbacks. We were given a brief history lesson on the strigoi and witnessed Setrakian's first encounter with Eichhorst and The Master.

Having read the books, I was hoping the series would include the Poland flashbacks as that is where Book 1 actually begins.

The Strain Season 1 Episode 5 is an important step in establishing the world's mythology.

Conferring with Kent - The Strain Season 1 Episode 5

That poor urologist, she never stood a chance. Ruby reacted as any one of us would by running the hell out of there. Many times in horror flicks characters try to help and end up getting chomped on themselves. Not Gabe's manager, she's a smart cookie. Loved the heel breaking, hilarious. Later on in the episode, Gabe feeds again on the "cleaner." The guy fought for his life though, you've got to give him that.

Which reminds me, I'm seeing comments about how campy and silly The Strain is. Personally, I think there's a huge difference between injecting a little humor and those awful campy/cheesy b-horror movies. This series is dark but does not take itself too seriously and I love that about it.

It was interesting to hear Setrakian finally talk about The Master, referring to him as patient zero. When Eph asks about the rate of infection, Setrakian explains some folks get the flu and suffer merely a sniffle while others can die. The survivors seem specifically chosen though right? I'm sure we'll learn more about this as the series continues.

When Eph mentions "vampire," Setrakian corrects him using the word strigoi (Romanian for vampire). I like it and will be using strigoi instead of vampire from now on!

As I mentioned at the top, the first book in the trilogy does not start with the Master's arrival and the dead airplane at JFK. I can understand why that's a better jumping off point for the series though. Kicking off with a flashback would be confusing for viewers not familiar with the story.

However, by introducing young Abraham and his grandmother's tales of the strigoi the book sets itself apart from countless vampire tales straight away. Trust me, the events that take place in 1944 Poland will be some of the most interesting on The Strain. How great did Eichhorst look wearing that Nazi uniform? Apparently, he was a monster even before being turned by The Master.

So young Abe begins working as a carpenter and he witnesses The Master feeding in the barracks.

My bubbeh told me stories when I was a child. Stories about a monster who fed on the blood of men.

Young Abraham

Speaking of his bubbeh, I wonder if we will see her again? In the book she meets a terrible end. Curious how she dies? You'll have to read Book 1.

In the present, Setrakian informs Eph they need to visit everyone on the flight manifest and end them. Eph seems fine with this plan for now, but he insists on documenting their encounters. Yep good ol' Goodweather still wants proof for the CDC to quarantine the family. I think we're way past that now Eph. Setrakian warns him that if he's infected he'll have no problem "releasing" him. Ouch, that's cold Gramps!

It was great to check in with Joan Luss at home wasn't it? Super creepy the way she hungered over and sniffed her kids. I could have sworn one of them was a goner. Hey maybe next week, you never know? Neeva noticed Joan's sideways blinking and took the kids home with her.

Meanwhile at the Barbour home, Ann-Marie's story came to an abrupt end. I wondered in last week's review for The Strain Season 1 Episode 4 if feeding the neighbor to Ansel would weigh heavily on her. Well I got my answer, it was all too much for her and she hung herself. The mirror test was interesting though. We learned that a silver mirror will vibrate if a person's infected.

Inside the shed, Setrakian expertly takes out Ansel (and the neighbor) while Eph records it using his iPhone. I've said it before but Setrakian is a badass!

Vasiliy had been noticing the rats behaving strangely and blamed a larger predator. When he heads underground into the subway tunnels we see the ammonia discharge on the walls. It isn't long before he comes face to face with dozens of strigoi. Good thing he wasn't too far from the exit. That sure was a close one dude.

Is The Master's nest deep in those tunnels? Are we headed for a major underground battle between our heroes and the strigoi in the finale?

I was glad we met Nora's mother this week. The character needs her own story arc apart from Eph. She obviously has a lot on her mind, dealing with her mom's Alzheimer's. It doesn't seem the writers are wasting much time reuniting her with Eph though right? Either way, I liked her much more this week.

At CDC Headquarters, Eph arrives with his evidence and presents it to his boss.

I have video documenting the physical effects of this infection. I also have video of an infected person in the full throes of the illness. Everett this is moving fast.


I thought the comparison between the strigoi and a caterpillar turning into a butterfly was dead on. The passengers aren't dead but dormant. Why would Everett not be convinced at this point and contain the virus at a family level? I'm thinking he's also in the Stoneheart Group's pocket. After watching Ansel Barbour's stinger shoot out and Setrakian behead the creature, there's no other explanation for his inaction.

It was cool to see Jim warn Eph the CDC had security footage of him dragging Redfern's dead body. Yes, I knew Samwise wouldn't let us down! Though I did find it strange the way Jim asked for Eph's phone... Hmmm. Still, he claims he never meant to betray Eph and for some reason I believe him.

What did you guys think of "Runaways?" Are you as excited about the Poland flashbacks as I am? Hit the comments and let me know what you liked (or didn't like) about this week's episode. Remember if you've read the books, let's stick to episode 5 below to avoid spoiling the show for others.

If you have read the books and don't mind a few mild spoilers, check out our Q&A with Guillermo del Toro.

Miss an episode or simply want to re-watch last week's? Watch The Strain online right here via TV Fanatic.

Do you think Jim Kent will manage to redeem himself for his role in all this?



Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (19 Votes)

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


Please resist on even the small spoilers from the books...."In the book she meets a terrible end." or "Apparently, he was a monster even before being turned by The Master." ....I was under the impression, he had already been turned. Can we do round tables for the strain? P.S. - Don't get me wrong...I loved the review, and am so greedy that I want the round table as well :-)

@ Pratik Bothra

Hey thanks for your feedback Pratik. I mentioned in the comments I won't be discussing the books anymore. In my own way, I was attempting to point out the strigoi mythology is quite unique and interesting. Many people are dismissing the series as just another vampire show. The Poland flashbacks are a perfect example of how fresh del Toro's take on vampirism is. Grandma Setrakian's story is on a completely different path, we actually might not see her again on the show. It's like with Walking Dead, some characters die in the comics but are alive on the TV series. As far as Eichhorst, he was standing outside in the sun in the flashback. Clearly he is not a strigoi at that point. That one is not a spoiler my friend ;) Regarding round tables, I am definitely considering it. Honestly, I was hoping for more interaction at the reviews before trying a round table. My Vikings reviews had hundreds of comments. Guess The Strain fans are shy haha. Keep you posted on round tables.


Enjoyed reading your review! Yea, it was super creepy.


Who's heart is Setrakian keeping?

@ charanto

Yeah you won't get that spoiler from me Ha!

@ charanto

That's quite a spoiler, actually, and you might prefer to see the story unfold itself :) It's worth a wait.

Payton mcmullen jr

Great episode. I'm here for Old Man Helsing slicing and dicing strigoi. I love how he told Eph he wasn't joining his cause, Eph was joining his.

@ paytonjr

Right? Setrakian is one tough old dude. His story is so interesting too. Can't wait to see more of his time at Treblinka.


The slow buildup for this show is very effective, IMHO. I watch an episode and can barely wait for the following Monday (I'm watching on FXonline). I have not read the books and appreciate that those who have are not dropping spoilers here. This is a very interesting take on the vampire genre. I love the intertwining of horror elements with modern crime procedural. The physiological explanations for the infection ground this in a reality that transcends standard horror, which I'm not that much of a fan of. And I don't find it campy at all. Rather, it's scary as all getout

@ Gene

Gene the series is different enough that even us book readers are constantly surprised by certain things. Besides, I read it so long ago I can't recall every little detail. They're doing a fantastic job bringing del Toro/Hogan's world to life. Those campy comments always surprise me. It's like people expect everything to be so serious. You can tell the creators are having fun with the genre and personally I really appreciate that. Thanks for your feedback!


I'm enjoying every minute! And it's not only because I've read the books and think 'OMG, this is going to be great because this scene will lead to...' or something like that (by the way: I was totally excited when Setrakian showed Eph that nailgun ;)). I think they make a really good job with the rather slow buildup, it makes everything more thrilling. Joan hungering after her kids was imo scarier than most 'monster attacks human being' scenes on tv / in movies. And kudos to Richard Sammel! I never cared much about Eichhorst in the books (can't even say why), but he's now one of my favourite villains, thanks to Sammel's performance.

@ San

I agree completely about Eichhorst, he's such a great character now on the show. The writing team really has taken the best parts of the books and turned them up to 11. The series is also different enough from Book 1 that we're not sure where they're going with certain story arcs. Jim for example wouldn't even be around. I'm also loving the pacing and though I've heard complaints about the "boring family stuff" those people will understand how important this is soon enough ;) Thanks so much for your comment San... See ya back here next week!

@ Henry A. Otero

I am loving the show and your reviews. Only minor gripe is usually the reviews keep the tv reviews "pure" but it seems each week you talk about both the book and the show. I think I like thehcolor the books provide but don't want things inadvertently spoiled. example - his mom.
better - people will understand re family. One flat out tells the future, the other says pay attention, this will be important! They used to have split reviews, I think for GoT, where the tv one focused only with the show, & a separate review and commentary talk about both the book and the show so we could explore that. Why not take up that format here? I think it could be exciting, and as a matter of fact those reviews are what got me to absolutely have to read books! Hope you'll consider it :)

@ TiffanyO

You're absolutely right Tiffany. I should not be talking about the books. To be honest I read them so long ago I only remember little snippets of information. A split review is a great idea, but I'm afraid I don't remember enough to make a separate one interesting. The Poland story arc is one of my favorites, but I think the series is doing everything better. What I mentioned about Abe's grandmother isn't really a spoiler because the writers have given her a different storyline. I have no idea if we will even see her again on the show. It's tough not to compare the series to the books that inspired it. When I'm writing I get excited to share what's on my mind, but I should keep the books out of it. Thanks so much for your feedback!


Super creepy that Joan was hungering after her kids.... Quick thinking on the maids part. Seeing Gabe in full vampire mode was scary. I don't find this show campy at all... Every episode scares me lol great review!!!!

@ Heather Otero

Ah you run to the other room during M&M commercials sister haha - Btw she's the nanny hello. As I mentioned below, I don't get the whole campy thing but what can you do right? I'm glad you're enjoying my reviews! Hey when are George & Alexis going to leave me a comment?

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The Strain Season 1 Episode 5 Quotes

My bubbeh told me stories when I was a child. Stories about a monster who fed on the blood of men.

Young Abraham

I have video documenting the physical effects of this infection. I also have video of an infected person in the full throes of the illness. Everett this is moving fast.