I love when I can start a review with good news. Yep, The Strain's been renewed!
That said, The Strain Season 2 Episode 5 wasn't one of my favorite episodes. Sure, Eph lost the hairpiece and made it to Washington D.C., but boy did the writers make odd choices here. I don't like to use the term "lazy writing" but there certainly were too many convenient turns for my taste.
Plus, if that's how they introduced Quinlan after the whole Vaun thing... I'm bummed.
That housing development raid was frakkin' intense. Imagine sitting down for dinner and having a squad of cops knock in your door and herd you like cattle into trucks. I mean, I realize it was a safety procedure, but what about civil liberties? The scene made it pretty clear New York's a Police State now. It played out like something out of World War II.
Clueless adults attacked by child-strigoi is officially a predictable trope on this show. I'm not sure what the Feelers were even doing in that particular building. Last time we saw them, they were closing in on Zack at the batting cage. Were they simply included in the scene to creep us out? Yeah their spidery movements are cool; we get it.
There were many moments in this installment that didn't make much sense. I can't stand it when smart characters are dumbed down. More on that in a moment.
Anyway, so Eph went to see a guy about a new identity.
Dale: Ephraim Goodweather from the news. So how's the fugitive life going?
Eph: Don't believe everything you see on TV.
Dale: I said I saw it. I never said I gave a shit. Okay, government ID will get you out of the city, but seeing as you're having your 15 minutes of fame you might want to change your appearance.
Fans everywhere should thank Dutch's pal Dale for that recommendation. Personally I never hated the hairpiece nor found it distracting, though I knew Corey Stoll from House of Cards and several movies. He's an actor, guys, and should be allowed to take on a different "look" depending on the character he's playing. I guess I never thought of the full head of hair as an attempt to make Stoll your typical "leading man." He's a handsome dude, with or without hair.
Still, I, too, am glad the wig is gone so critics can finally get past the malarkey.
Eph looks pretty badass without hair, and he's a new man. I'm not just referring to the shiny noggin, mind you. Not only did he leave his wedding ring behind and kill Barnes, but he's much more likable this season thanks to the booze. Yeah, not sure what kind of message that sends, but high-functioning alcoholic Eph is way cooler than douchebag dad Eph. Now the showrunners/writers seriously need to work on a Zack makeover.
Setrakian ending up at Creem's place is one of several annoying coincidences in this episode. Like Barnes being on the same train to Washington D.C. with Eph. I get it, we need certain characters to pop in now and again. Those moments just felt thrown together hastily with a line from Setrakian like, "I've heard about you from several of my former business associates."
Setrakian, Palmer, the Church and many others have failed to locate the Lumen, but Creem might know someone that deals in "religious iconography." Awfully convenient for an arms dealer, no? Okay whatever, let's move on.
Mia Maestro's character was beefed up in the first few episodes, but has she now been relegated to babysitting duty? One step forward, two steps back, guys. Sure, she had a point about attracting too much attention as a trio. Why not split up? Couldn't she take a flight with the kid to Washington D.C.? Nope, she was determined to make the decision this time. "You're going to do this alone," Nora told Eph.
The reality is, the writers needed Nora to meet Councilwoman Feraldo and teach her a thing or two about the virus. See what I mean about things not making much sense? Nora's decision was unrealistic. She was basically used as a plot device here.
Nora: Excuse me, I'm doctor Nora Martinez. I'm a biochemist with the CDC.
Nora: You don't need to quarantine people for three days. I have a way of diagnosing people who are infected within one to two hours.
Feraldo: Yeah? How's that?
Nora: I'll show you, but first you have to do something for me.
Seriously, that's how Nora and Dutch sprung Fet from jail? Captain Kowalski witnessed the exchange between Nora and Feraldo yet he says, "So we're letting the Brooklyn bomber walk huh? You must have powerful friends." Next thing you know, Fet and Dutch are fighting alongside New York City's finest.
There were so many little nonsensical moments like this in the installment. Honestly, I feel "Quick and Painless" is a good example of what keeps The Strain from being an amazing show. Don't get me wrong, it's a good show, but I'm not sure it will ever be an extraordinary television series.
Considering Eph is a wanted fugitive, he sure managed to get past Homeland Security and the cops without incident. Oh that's right, the Dr. Goodweather in the alerts isn't bald. Couldn't they have thrown a pair of glasses on the guy? It certainly seems to work for Clark Kent.
Man, I'm bitching a lot in this review. I've just got to get this stuff off my chest, guys; bear with me. Does anyone not know what an urn is? That dude at the end has no business being a cop. I will say the lawyer Eph sat across on the train clearly recognized him. Do you think we'll see Neil Archer again in a future installment? Or was his role simply to get Eph up and running?
The second raid on the housing development had some fun moments. I especially loved the silver bomb in the elevator and how that scene was shot. However, I mentioned smart characters doing stupid shit at the top. Why in the world would Fet put his eyeball against that hole in the wall knowing there was a muncher in there? Or Fitzwilliam mysteriously tail the old man with the sword? What about Barnes following Eph into a train car with an open door?
Okay, the script called for these moments, but they're lame nonetheless, and this kind of stuff really bugs me. This episode felt rather clunky, and unfortunately the blame falls on the writers. Do right by our characters, guys, don't just use them to get from point A to point B.
Councilwoman Feraldo's nephew was obviously vamp chow from the moment we met him. My question to you, dear reader, is: why not test the bio-weapon on Mikey? Didn't Eph stress early on their virus had to be harmless to humans?
If that's the case, wouldn't a small dose kill the worms in his system before the transformation kicked in? I'm not sure why Nora chose to kill the kid rather than test this theory out. Am I missing something, or are the writers simply waiting for a more important character to be infected?
So Eph and Barnes came face to face after Homeland Security insisted on a medical inspection of the john; seriously?!? And why would Eph brag about being one of the first to discover the virus' symptoms? Damn you writers, you're killing me!
Eph: Shut up. I'm not letting you get in my way again.
Barnes: You think I like the position they put me in? They nearly threw me over a balcony Eph. I can't even sleep. I barely eat.
Eph: Then just let me go. I've got a plan to wipe out all the infected and clean all this up.
Barnes: Well that's great news. I'll let you go.
Let's be honest, there's no way that slimeball was going to let Eph walk away. "I can't trust you Barnes. I know you," Eph tells him. Again, Eph's come a long way from that CDC doctor that refused to kill strigoi to tossing Barnes from the train. While it had to be done, I wonder what the lasting effects of that murder will be on Eph? Despite everything, Ephraim is a good guy just trying to save the world.
Since the Palmer/Coco romance is probably my least favorite arc this season, I'll only mention his comment about the fire should have set off a red flag in Coco. The Cardinal bringing up the Lumen makes it clear the Catholic Church knows where it is. That's right, Palmer and Setrakian will be locking horns over the ancient book delivered by Mr. Creem.
In the final moments, a mysterious plane landed in New Jersey. Security questioned the pilots who informed them their client left. Huh?!? There's been so much hubbub about Vaun not being Quinlan and the fact the writers found a cool new way to introduce the character. If that was Mr. Q we just met, what the hell was so great about this new introduction? I'll take Vaun's intro instead any day.
Well that's enough complaining about "Quick and Painless" from me. Are you glad Corey Stoll lost the wig? Was it about time Nora, Dutch and Fet joined Feraldo's crusade? Did we just meet the real Quinlan? Your turn, guys, sound off in the comments below.
Miss this installment? Remember you can watch The Strain online here at TV Fanatic.
NOTE: The Strain Season 2 Episode 6 is titled “Identity” and airs on Sunday, August 16.