TV Review: The Strain, Season 1, Episode 9

Episode 9: The Disappeared

SUMMARY: Eph (Corey Stoll) frantically searches for his estranged wife when he discovers her live-in boyfriend is among those infested by the Strigoi.

REVIEW: Last week's episode of THE STRAIN was its best since the pilot. After a shaky first half of the season, it seemed like the show had finally hit its stride, delivering a contained, action-packed episode reminiscent of old John Carpenter movies or Frank Darabont's THE MIST. Too bad this week's episode can't even come close to living up to it.

The teaser is promising, with Eph finally reunited with his son, saving him in the nick of time from his wife's infected boyfriend. But that's when the trouble starts. As opposed to last week's highly contained instalment, this one is all over the place. The focus is divided between Eph and Nora (Mia Maestro) as they search (not very hard) for Eph's wife. The b-plot involves Vasily (Kevin Durand) and Setrakian (David Bradley) as they help-out Dutch Velders (Ruta Gedmintus), who eventually spills the beans regarding her involvement with Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde – still m.i.a). Setrakian seems eager to make both Dutch and especially Vasily part of his team, with him telling Vasily that his strength is his coldness, to which he responds that he does indeed have feelings, but he's a realist as well. I wasn't originally keen on Durand's performance but I have to admit he's really come into his own. I'm not sure about Gedmintus' model-like hacker, but we'll see. Maybe now that Setrakian knows about her past she'll become a more-rounded character. We also get a bit more with Gus (Miguel Gomez) as he manages to escape his prison bus, but not before contending with a transformed former cohort.

The big problem this week is all with Eph and Nora. Again, Stoll and Maestro, both of whom are excellent actors, are let down by having the dumbest writing to contend with. Here's Eph, with his son having just watched his father kill his near-step dad, with his wife presumably dead or worse, and what does he do? He goes at it with Nora on his wife's bed! What the f**k? And this is a guy we're supposed to like? The same goes for Nora, who gets snippy with Eph after he expresses concern over his wife in a bizarre scene involving a totally extraneous character . Let's not forget they just watched one of their best friends, Jim, die brutally. Screwing away the pain is one thing, but this comes off like a desperate attempt to sex up the show. Why not just let their relationship develop over time? These are our main characters. It's absolutely essential we feel for them, but so far no dice.

Overall, this is a real let-down considering how absolutely amazing last week's episode was. It's still not bad (THE STRAIN is never full-on bad) but it's a bitter disappointment, although even this has its saving graces, like the scenes with Setrakian, and a nifty flashback that shows Eichorst at the point of being turned by The Master. Hopefully next week gets us back on track.



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