Episode 8: Creatures of the Night
SUMMARY: Eph (Corey Stoll) and the rest of the gang find themselves a powerful new ally in Vasily Fet (Kevin Durand) before being pinned down by a roving gang of Strigoi as the infection spreads throughout the city.
REVIEW: Fresh from last week's installment, THE STRAIN is back with another slam-bang episode, Right from the start, which picks up immediately after Eph wounds Eichorst with a silver bullet while saving Setrakian, the action is fast and furious. The majority of the episode plays out like a cool John Carpenter flick, with Eph, Setrakian, Nora, and now Vasily Fet trapped in a convenience store as the Strigoi congregate outside.
This is a really cool example of what used to be called a “bottle episode” in that the scope is limited to one place, but despite this it's one of the most action-heavy installments to date, almost feeling like a “Walking Dead” episode as they're confronted by dozens of Strigoi. We learn they can operate on a kind of “brain trust” as Eichorst and The Master control them with the hive trying to devour Eph's crew. We also learn the Strigoi have a caste system, with Eichorst being one of the few that's been allowed to keep some of their former selves throughout their metamorphosis.
After being totally absent last week, Durand's Vasily is front-and-center as he winds up bonding with Setrakian over their shared prowess at dispatching Strigoi. It feels like the two are going to have a nice kind of father-son bond going on with Setrakian seeing Fet's potential as a Strigoi hunter right away.
Like every episode, David Bradley steals every scene he's in, and Durand also seems to be coming into his own as Vasily, minus one obnoxious line where he calls the Indian cashier at the convenience store “Apu.” Is that supposed to be funny? Little moments like that hurt the show, but luckily this episode is light on them.
Inadvertently, Eph and his crew wind up saving Dutch Velders, the hacker hired by Eldritch Palmer to help shut down the city as the Strigoi spread. It'll be interesting to see if she ever starts to redeem herself although so far she's despicable. Speaking of redemption, this is a big episode for Sean Astin's Jim Kent, who gets a little box-cutter surgery from Eph after being infected by a strigoi worm. Did Eph and Nora get in out in time? Nope. He's screwed, but at least he understands his predicament and begs the gang to kill him before Fet obliges him. I kinda figured Astin's character wasn't going to last too long, but I'm surprised he died so early in the run. It's an effective scene though.
One area THE STRAIN still hasn't quite come together is in Eph's characterization. I love Corey Stoll as an actor, but so far Eph and Mia Maestro's Nora are coming off as pretty boring characters, with the supporting guys like Bradley and Durand walking away with every scene. Maybe as the stakes get high for Eph, once his family is brought back into the fray, he'll start to get rounded out a bit.
Overall, this was another very strong episode, and it feels like just over halfway through the first season THE STRAIN has finally found its footing. Hopefully it'll stay consistent. It's shaping up very nicely