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TV Review: The Strain: Season 2, Episode 2

Season 2, Episode 2: By Any Means  

SUMMARY: Eph (Corey Stoll) and Nora (Mia Maestro) face an ethical dilemma as they experiment on two newly infected survivors with the hope of learning more about the strigoi virus. 

REVIEW:  As I wrote in my review of last week’s episode of The Strain, this is a show that’s always frustrated me. It has so much potential to be at least a solid genre show but some lunk-headed character choices and a wildly uneven sense of pacing and scale keep this from being anything other than mediocre. I went into season two with high hopes, as the show runners have addressed the fact that season one was somewhat less than perfect, but so far season two doesn’t seem to be any better.

 

One of my biggest problems with the show is how life just seems to go on in NYC despite the fact that the city is being overrun by vampires! It makes no sense that the mayor and the city council are just sitting around calmly trying to work out a solution as the apocalypse is literally being kicked-off all around them. Not only does there not seem to be any military or CDC personnel on the ground, but there’s still time for a business magnate like Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde) to call press conferences and give speeches? Should people be – I dunno – panicked?

Add to this the fact that our hero – Corey Stoll’s Eph – seems to be more wrapped up in his personal life than saving the city and you have a problematic premise. To me, the film WORLD WAR Z – despite its many faults – is a far more convincing portrait of how the government would mobilize people in the case of an outbreak. It makes no sense that Ephraim is essentially a one-man-band on the ground, having to rely on only one other doctor (Mia Maestro’s Nora) and a bunch of civilians. I’m also getting really sick of the constant attempts to give Eph an edge by having him melodramatically take a swig from a hidden bottle of vodka before going into the lab. Corey Stoll is a great actor – for proof look no further than MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, House of Cards, or the recent GLASS CHIN – but he’s left high and dry by the material.

 
 

The problems don’t end there. At only the second episode of the new season, we’re already getting an installment that seems loaded with filler. For the first time, Setrakian’s flashbacks are starting to feel tacked-on. Meanwhile, Vasily (Kevin Durand) and Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas) take a break from strigoi slaying to make some sweet, sweet love. Look, I get the fact that these two would be drawn to each other, but there had to be a way for them to finally hook up without it seeming so out-of-place, in that they’ve literally just wiped out half a dozen strigoi and stop to skinny dip on their way out. Again, there’s absolutely no sense of urgency.

At this point, it seems really unlikely that the second season of The Strain is going to redeem itself. While it maybe deserves a few more episodes before we finally write it off, things are not looking good for The Strain right about now. If the show runners are going to save this show they need to do something significant.

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