In typical Strain fashion, a truly killer installment was followed by this mediocre one.
Let's be honest, The Strain Season 2 Episode 8 was total filler. Though the official press release for the Season 3 renewal doesn't mention the episode order being dropped to 10, that's the word on the interwebs. If it's true, I think it's a really smart move.
Fewer episodes would tighten up each character's arc and create more urgency in the storytelling à la Game of Thrones. There's a reason only about 2.65 million people are tuning in. It's become a DVR series, and I think The Strain deserves far better.
Anyway, let's discuss some of the positives, shall we? Kelly's little makeover, for example, was a great moment. It was hilarious to hear Eichhorst say, "I've studied your photographs. Think I can do you justice." How very Extreme Makeover: Strigoi Edition!
The cold open reminded me of The Strain Season 1 Episode 3, which started with Eichhorst putting on his nose. The imagery is still disturbing and it makes sense he'd teach Kelly how to disguise herself. Why didn't this happen sooner? Well, because they've got seven or eight hours to stretch out to 13 total for the season.
Not only was I glad to see/hear Natalie Brown again, but this move means she will be sticking around. For a while there, I was worried the character had outlived her usefulness. Sure, the strigoi look terrifyingly amazing, but in human form they can blend in and be more involved in the story. Someone like Eichhorst is way more interesting that your average bloodsucker.
It was so cool to hear Eichhorst describe the process of regaining control.
Now, we mustn't forget the eyes. They are after all, the windows to the soul. See, I was correct, this is the mother our dear Zack cries for in the night.Eichhorst
I'm enjoying Eph and Fet's new bromance; they're amusing. Though of course, like last season, it's at the expense of Nora and Dutch (who by the way disappeared again). Eph is such a bad liar, I think Nora knew he's was full of it when she asked about Barnes. And Setrakian let Fet have it, telling him to get his head back in the game. This is a horror show, let's leave that soap opera crap to the daytime shows.
The whole Jimmy Wu sequence was a pointless exercise in how to do filler poorly. Was there a purpose to any of it? It's not like Zack respected his father once he saved the guy's life. He simply slipped back into brat mode and whined about Eph not saving Kelly. Man, is this kid dense or what? I feel like The Strain Season 1 Zack would know better by now.
Do you think Wu or his daughter will join the cause? If so, then perhaps this stuff wasn't a total waste after all. As of right now, it doesn't seem like we'll run into them again, which is frustrating.
Seriously, did they have to show us Palmer and Coco's morning after? The only thing worse than this arc is being subjected to a half naked Palmer caressing the French beauty in bed. I've mentioned before that Coco did not come across as a gold digger. Still, if she's up to something, sleeping with the villain is taking things a bit far, no?
Who do you think she's working for? It wouldn't surprise me if Eichorst or the Master himself hired Coco to gather intel on their "partner." However, if this turns out to be some kind of true love connection, I'm going to be pissed.
Palmer's scene with Cardinal Macnamara was much more relevant to the story.
Cardinal Macnamara: There are other interested parties.
Palmer: Who? Is one of them Abraham Setrakian? The man's not a serious player. He's wasting your time.
Cardinal Macnamara: I appreciate the advice.
Palmer: Name a figure that will close the deal right now.
Cardinal Macnamara: I can't. Not as long as there are other bidders.
Palmer: Don't play games with me Paul. You'll regret it.
Eichhorst: I can attest to that.
It was pretty clear the greedy Cardinal would end up a strigoi slurpee. The purpose of that brief meeting was simply to introduce Macnamara and Eichhorst. Wasn't the way Palmer mocked Eichhorst ballsy? "It's not for us to question. The Master does or does not. In this case he did, but not with you," Palmer said, spitting his words right back at him. Eichhorst walking away in silence spoke volumes. There's serious hate there.
Could the Cardinal be more unpleasant than when Setrakian and Fet visited later? Though he was a man of God, the guy got what was coming to him. I loved hearing Setrakian confirm to Fet, "Yes, we're gonna rob the son of a bitch." I had a feeling the quest for the Occido Lumen would be a season long arc, but talk about dragging things out. I'm not sure I even care about the damn book anymore.
The Gupta's helped introduce the Silver Angel, but they're useless in the grand scheme of things. Why was it so important to show Gus and Angel's trip to the supply store? That conversation could have easily taken place in the Tandoori Palace's kitchen. Sure, Gus making a love connection was fun, but even that's gone to hell.
Quinlan's argument made total sense, and I get the feeling Gus will walk away from Aanya. None of this stuff seems to advance the main plot, which is why fans aren't as engaged with the show as they should be.
Regardless, I can't get enough of Quinlan. It was great he connected with Gus.
Quinlan: His shadow looms over you. You crossed him and he does not forget. What has it cost you thus far? Your best friend. Your mother. Do you not see a pattern? She's very beautiful. Beauty and love are fleeting, but powerful. I've known both. I've lost both. You can save her Gus, but the only way is to give her up. Until we slay the Master, that is.
Gus: I don't get it man. Why? Why me?
Quinlan: That is a question I learned to stop asking myself many centuries ago.
Did Quinlan reject Setrakian and Fet due to the bomb mishap? Will he, Gus and Angel become a formidable team? I always imagined Gus joining our main cast, but he's been kept separate for so long. Does the alliance with Quinlan mean we'll have two separate groups fighting the Master? I'm okay with that for now, but there's strength in numbers. Surely Quinlan realizes this, right?
Cardinal Macnamara's death scene played out beautifully and the camerawork was brilliant. Eichhorst looking up into the camera, while the priest prayed below him, for example. "It appears your almighty has better things to do," Eichhorst teased. Setrakian and Fet arrived in time to scare the creature away and learn that the boy from the convent had the book. I really appreciated that connection to that Austrian flashback. Then, off with his head!
Honestly, all the best scenes this episode involved Kelly. From the opening sequence, to her quarantine inspection and ultimately the big battle at the end. Do you think the Master sacrificed that strigoi in the van so Kelly could get through? Eph confessed to killing Barnes just as Zack opened the front door for his strigoi mother. Though the episode was a dud in my book, that big confrontation was thrilling. I hope the kid finally gets it. I mean, half of Kelly's face was peeling off.... Hello!
Overall, as I said at the top, this was a mediocre hour of TV. As a matter of fact, I think I'll try a Top 3 "Fillers" on The Strain podcast instead of our standard best moments.
What did you think of "Intruders"? Do you disagree that this was a filler? Will Gus join Quinlan? Will Kelly ever get her hands on Zack? Is Eph's bio-weapon out of play for good? Your turn ladies and germs, share your thoughts in the comments below.
Miss an installment? Don't forget you can watch The Strain online via TV Fanatic.
NOTE: The Strain Season 2 Episode 9 is titled "The Battle for Red Hook" and airs on Sunday, September 6.