Since the premier episode a number of weeks ago, I felt The Strain was a boring schlock of a program disguised as something exciting, as seen in the early promos. Occultation, the sixth episode of the 13 episode first season, proved this show isn’t a boring, poorly written character-heavy vampire show: It’s a gritty thrill ride with enough action and scares to keep the hairs on the back of your neck on end and you on the edge of your seat.
The lunar eclipse is dawning and Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) is on the run from the FBI after a ‘misunderstanding.’ That misunderstanding is Pilot Redfern (Jonathan Potts) and his dead (or undead) body. With the FBI hot on his trail, and his wife’s boyfriend a jealous mess, Eph, before being hauled away by authorities, warns his wife and son of the dangers of some new, unclassified epidemic. While Eph remains in police custody for the majority of the show, Nora and her Alzheimer-stricken mother (Mía Maestro and Anne Betancourt) eventually visit Abraham (David Bradley) for his guidance.
Abraham continues to move about the city destroy every single last passenger aboard the plane in the first episode. His moves aren’t what they used to be as he struggles to dissipate an entire basement full of these creatures. Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand), whose name is equally fun to pronounce and spell, is laughed off by his colleagues when he informs them about the creatures in the sewers. Lastly, Gus and Jim (Miguel Gómez, Sean Astin, respectively) team up, per the request of Elchorst (Richard Sammel).
What plagued the previous episodes were the overbearing use of exposition and character development, mainly because what was being relayed to the audience was boring, clichéd, and downright stupid at times. Though that doesn’t really change much this time around, the action escalating to a frightening crescendo, more so now than before. The dialogue between characters isn’t cheeky anymore, if that’s possible. The argument Kelly (Natalie Brown) has with her boyfriend (Drew Nelson) seems believable enough. The argument isn’t forced but feels natural to the context of the scene and they aren’t arguing for the sake of moving the story along forward. Matt calling the FBI on Eph was the right call.
I didn’t expect such a poignant moment from The Strain with Vasiliy’s scene with his father. We got a bit a backstory with Vasiliy that was much needed. His conversation with his father may have been a tad melodramatic but it was a great way to break up the action a bit instead of scenes of discovery or stupid scenes of Eph trying to plead his case.
When the lunar eclipse finally occurs, all hell breaks loose…for less than five minutes and then everything is back to normal. With so much momentum for a lunar eclipse, I figured it would last an episode or maybe half an episode. Plus, I figured it would be more catastrophic than what was depicted. Instead, we got a small dose of danger and how that affected each one of the potential major players. I would have loved an all out assault from the vampires to show the scale of the chaos.
Cell phones are a common use in most television shows and I love how everything from the Internet to basic cellular phones aren’t working so much less conventional uses like telephone books are to become the norm in this world.
This is my favorite episode of the season so far and by the way the sneak previews have it, it’s going to get even more exciting.
Some things to consider:
•Wait, so the fat guy can dodge a vampire but an FBI agent, let alone two, are no match for an overweight vampire? Riiiight!
•I don’t blame Matt, I would have done the same thing.
•Why sit around and talk about going to Vermont while you’re minutes away from the eclipse? Eph told you to leave so why aren’t you leaving?
•Kelly’s friend wasn’t a total man-hating bitch. I kind of liked that boldness in writing where a female friend is written as a complete stereotype.
•Matt is going to die, right? He can’t be the hero, that’ll just cockblock Eph.
•Is Nora’s mother diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or is she just friggin’ annoying.
•Why didn’t the eclipse last longer? I want it to.
•Elchorst’s victim in the beginning was chilling.
•Abraham’s heart-attack(?) while fighting off vamps in a basement leads me to believe some sort of passing of the torch. I hope it’s Vasiliy.