Episode 7: For Services Rendered
SUMMARY: More of Setrakian's (David Bradley) past with Eichorst (Richard Sammel) is revealed as Eph (Corey Stoll) and Nora (Mia Maestro) race to contain the Strigoi.
REVIEW: Last week's episode of THE STRAIN was another frustrating installment, in that parts of it were absolutely fantastic, while moments, such as Eph's dealings with a cartoonishly goofy pair of FBI agents made me want to give the show up forever. Yet, as the Strigoi continue to spread throughout the city, the show starts to lean more in the direction of being good, and this week's episode is one of the stronger installments so far.
Like most weeks, the teaser was a highlight, with a now mostly transformed Joan Luss (Leslie Hope) attacking her husband (BATTLESTAR: GALACTICA's Aaron Douglas in a cameo), setting the stage later for a scene where Joan tries to eat her own kids, only to be saved by their nanny. This week, we also learn that the Strigoi, in classic vampire tradition, are vulnerable to silver, with Nora having some kind of fancy scientific-babble about why that might be so.
If you're like me, and Setrakian is your favourite character, this will be a welcome installment, as more light is shed on Setrakian's past, where as the inmate of a concentration camp, he first came face-to-face with the Strigoi through SS commandant Eichorst (Richard Sammel). Their multi-generational battle is compelling stuff. The concentration camp scenes are rough and gritty, and Sammel makes for an absolutely despicable villain, even in human form, with Bradley's Setrakian telling Eph, “when I knew him, he was human but just as monstrous.” True enough. The scene where a young Setrakian confronts a drunken Eichorst in the camp is especially interesting.
One thing I only noticed this week are the tiny imperfections in Eichorst's human makeup, with his hair looking for like a wig (although not more than Stoll's toupee, which is supposed to be real and I still wish they'd just ditch), and his color looking like makeup especially if you're watching it in 1080p. Good stuff.
Another character that's starting to come into focus is Sean Astin's duplicitous Kent, who seems genuine in his effort to redeem himself in Eph's eyes, although who knows? He's used as a pawn to lure out Eichorst, with Setrakian finally getting the drop on him but unable to do anything due to the innocent bystanders. But, Eichorst has other ideas, and the two finally do battle on a train platform, with Setrakian's sword apparently having been stolen from the master. Due to his age, Setrakian is no match for him, having to be saved by Eph, who proves himself a marksman with his silver bullets, although both live to fight another day. It actually would have been a shame if Eichorst had died so early, with him being such a good villain. In the end, we also learn that Setrakian himself constructed the Master's coffin, as part of his labor in the concentration camp, giving us insight into the guilt he carries with him, although I'm eager for more to be revealed about his former wife, whose heart he keeps in his pawn shop (which he also fed in the pilot).
The episode ends with a weird team of paramilitary Strigoi appearing to save Luss' children, even executing the nanny's infected daughter saying she's “corrupted.” This is actually a pretty intriguing twist and overall, this has been a really strong episode. If THE STRAIN can operate at this level, it may finally wind up being the show we all hoped it would be after the pilot.