Sunday, September 14, 2014

REVIEW: 'The Strain' - Eph Searches for His Ex-Wife While an Eye Worm Finally Appears in 'Loved Ones'

FX's The Strain - Episode 1.10 "Loved Ones"

Eph investigates Kelly's disappearance and struggles with what he finds. Dutch pursues a plan to retaliate against Palmer, and Fitzwilliams makes a surprising choice.

The mystery surrounding Kelly's disappearance was given so much importance in the last episode. And yet, that hour postponed any kind of answer just so Eph and Nora could have sex. And now, the show feels compelled to fill in the blanks of what happened to her. However, Kelly is a superfluous character. This episode is the most screentime she has had all season long. We are suppose to care for her when the worm goes into her eye and she slowly turns and feeds on her best friend and the friend's son. But her transformation is something we have seen all season long. It doesn't get interesting until she comes "face to face" with The Master. That's intriguing because it sets up importance for later episodes. But it doesn't explain why we needed to spend so much time on a character we barely know throughout "Loved Ones."

Kelly has only really ever been described through her relationship to Eph. And not that well either. He's still in love with her but he's also doing stuff with Nora. It really is confusing how Eph is suppose to feel in this moment. He goes off to search for Kelly because he has a love for her as the mother of his child. The show will exploit that connection in the future once he finally sees her as a vampire. And yet, the struggle he'll face in that scenario doesn't feel all that earned. He's sad noticing her bracelet with the wedding ring alongside her now dead best friend/vampire. But Eph's personal struggles have never been the best part of the character. Now, they are being moved to the central focus a bit but I can't say I really feel anything towards this family. I'm having more fun watching this band of survivors try and stop the Master. Instead the show is focusing too heavily on Eph's struggles by placing his needs above everyone else's because he has a personal life while the others generally don't. The buildup to this moment wasn't successfully done. So anything that will result from it won't be as rewarding as the show probably would like.

The only other major plot in this hour is Fet and Dutch going to Palmer's corporate building to try and do..... something. They did not put any thought into their plan at all. So it shouldn't be a surprise that they are caught and unable to do what they came there to do within the first few minutes of stepping into the building. It was a terrible plan. The only larger purpose of this story is to establish that Fitzwilliams may be a friend and ally on the inside of Palmer's organization. That could come into play nicely in the future. But it doesn't quite justify all the "elaborate" plotting in this episode.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Loved Ones" was written by Gennifer Hutchison and directed by John Dahl.
  • Palmer's big speech to Dutch about his motives in all of this was the first time the show has actually came out and said what exactly he is feeling. That should have came a lot sooner in the season. Not near the end. We now understand his mentality and recognize just how crazy he is.
  • Not enough Setrakian in this episode. He only had like two lines, right? That can never happen again to the series' best character.
  • Why in the world did vampire Matt not attack Kelly while she was asleep? Because then there wouldn't have been a big mystery to where she was.
  • Eph's little freakout to Dutch came out of nowhere and was totally unjustifiable. What does he have against her? This group of survivors needs every able body to help in the fight. He knows that. And yet, he lashes out simply because he didn't find Kelly? I don't buy that at all.
  • Nor do I buy Dutch leaving so easily.
  • But hey, at least a worm finally got to go in through the eye like all the promotional efforts promised!