TV Review: The Strain, Season 1, Episode 5

Episode 5: Runaways

SUMMARY: Setrakian (David Bradley) and Ephraim (Corey Stoll) try desperately to contain the infection from spreading, but some of the victims have already been busy infecting new people.

REVIEW: Like in the last few installments, this week's episode of THE STRAIN opens with a slam bang-teaser. Last time we saw Bolivar, well, let's just say the transformation had wreaked havoc on a rather vital part of his anatomy. One of the best things about the show so far are the occasional throwaway moments that show how your typical, real-world person might react to vampirism. So what would you do in the real world if you saw Bolivar's penile problems? Why, call the urologist of course, which sadly doesn't turn out well for the urologist or his long-suffering publicist (Regina King).

From there, we follow-up on last week's conclusion, which saw Ephraim (Corey Stoll) team-up with Setrakian (David Bradley) on a quest to eliminate the remaining survivors and stop The Master's plan from taking effect. The “v-word” vampire is finally used by Ephraim, while Setrakian prefers the Romanian term Strigoi, which, he admits, is basically Romanian for vampire. So can we call them vampires?

From there we launch into a series of terrific flashbacks showing Abraham's time in a concentration camp under Eichorst, the camp commandant. While short, they're compelling, and hopefully will lead to more flashbacks so we can get more background on Setrakian, who's by far the most interesting character.

Kevin Durand's Vasily Fet comes back this week after sitting the last episode out. Yeah, he's still walking around like he's the coolest pest control guy in the world, wearing his badge like a cop and flirting with the department secretary. I still haven't decided whether Durand is super cool in the part, or really cheesy. It's going to take a few more weeks.

All in all, this is a really action-packed, fast-moving episode showing Setrakian and Ephraim at work. Coupled with the concentration camp flashbacks, overall this is an involving episode and the best since the pilot (directed by Peter Weller to boot!). That said, THE STRAIN still isn't perfect. It feels like in this thirteen-episode run there's material for ten really solid episodes, with some filler added in that could have been chopped out. This week's filler is the material with Nora's (Mia Maestro) sick mother, which I suppose is a little character development, but hurts the show's momentum. In the end it pays off though, as it brings Nora back into the frey. Another extraneous bit is the subplot with a “cleaner” coming to cover-up Bolivar's killings, but with him dispatched so quickly, one wonders what the point of his part really was.

Still, this is a pretty solid episode. While I don't think THE STRAIN ever will live up to the pilot, it's nonetheless a pretty entertaining show, although I'm not sold on it ever becoming truly first class. I'm having fun with it though.



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