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TV Review: The Strain, Season 1, Episode 12

Episode 12: Last Rites

SUMMARY: Dutch Velders (Ruta Gedmintas) returns with a plan to allow Eph (Corey Stoll) to use an old emergency broadcast network to issue a city-wide warning about the Strigoi. Meanwhile, Setrakian (David Bradley) recalls an earlier, fateful meeting with The Master.

REVIEW: With only one episode to go after this, it's obvious that THE STRAIN, despite the occasional strong episode, isn't going to pull off a miracle and suddenly redeem a mediocre season with a stunning finale. It could end well, and season two might kick the show up a couple of notches, but it can't be denied that the first season has been shaky. After another half-good, half-bad episode last week, THE STRAIN's penultimate episode is another mixed bag.

Once again, it feels like THE STRAIN is stretching things out a bit, as if there's just not enough plot to sustain thirteen episodes. Much of the present day stuff is boring. Dutch Velders is apparently a wholly original character to the show, and there's not an element of her storyline that doesn't feel tacked-on. She's beautiful but not especially compelling, with the possibility of a potential romance with Vasily feeling tacked-on, as does her lengthy speech about why she became a hacker and her father, yada yada.

For the lead, Eph once again has precious little to do, with him spending most of the episode trying to come up with a speech he can use to convince New Yorkers of the trouble they're in. One really hopes next season Stoll's finally going to be given something to do. So far Eph is an incredibly bland hero, and his romance with Nora (Mia Maestro) still isn't especially convincing. I don't get that the two – faced with the possible destruction of the human race – would find to time stop, bicker, and make up almost every episode.

But now for the good – Setrakian. Much of the episode is devoted to flashbacks that find the younger Setrakian living in Eastern Europe and hunting down Eichorst and The Master. We finally get clued into exactly what happened between him and The Master and why he keeps a Strigoi heart in his pawnshop.

But, in the modern world things are fairly uneventful, with more on Gus and his attempts to flee the city. This bit does pay off marginally when their weird Strigoi (?) paramilitary group pops up to kidnap him. It's also cool that THE WIRE's Jamie Hector (Marlo Stanfield) shows up in a small part. As for our heroes, I can't deny I was actually happy that Nora's mother got infected by the Strigoi as she's been a pretty annoying, tacked-on part of the season. However, the bit where Nora kills her mom and Setrakian remembers being forced to kill his wife ends the episode on an effective note. Overall though, once again this was an episode that only really came alive now and then. I've said it once, and I'll say it again, had the season run 8-10 episodes it would have been great.

Extra Tidbit: Anyone else think The Master was way scarier when you couldn't see his face?

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