Sunday, September 28, 2014

REVIEW: 'The Strain' - Eph Issues a Warning to the Public, Gus Finds New Friends & Eichhorst Storms the Pawn Shop in 'Last Rites'

FX's The Strain - Episode 1.12 "Last Rites"

Dutch returns with a plan to broadcast Eph's warning about the vampiric plague. However, they face a new threat when Eichhorst launches his own attack against the pawn shop. Palmer receives a special visitor, and Gus gears up for the on-coming fight but discovers there's another mysterious factor involved.

In "Last Rites," Eph and the gang are successfully able to warn the public about the vampiric plague spreading throughout New York City and soon the world. But they are also forced out of their one sanctuary in the city. Eichhorst storms the pawn shop with a group of vampires. And yet, I never feel excited about what's to come. This is the penultimate episode of the season and the plot of this year is not coming together in a rewarding way. All the tedious plotting of each and every episode should be seeming worth it and it just isn't. That is a major problem while looking at the scope of the season. With this episode specifically, it just feels like another episode of The Strain instead of one of action and excitement. The entire team stands around the pawn shop talking while Eph works on a speech. We get some backstory for Dutch. But then, the message largely goes up okay. Then, vampires come flying through the windows and it's largely a one-sided fight. Eichhorst and his fellow vampires are trying to break in while Eph and the team are just escaping so they can fight another day.

Also at this point, we must have seen every important thing from Setrakian's past, right? There's been several episodes of flashbacks to tell his tale of decades of chasing the Master and Eichhorst. This week we jump ahead to the 1960s and he has a woman who he desperately loves. But mostly, he just gets stuck at the bottom of a well. After Eichhorst lures him to that trap, wouldn't the vampires have attacked and eliminated the threat to their way of life? Wouldn't that be the sensible thing to occur? And yet, he doesn't battle any vampires while there. Eichhorst offers a threat but then his biggest struggle is to simply climb out of the well which is a struggle but one we largely just see the end of. And then, his lady is turned into a vampire and he is forced to kill her. The fact that he keeps her heart in a jar in his basement is something that hasn't been brought up or seen since the first episode. And now, we get an explanation which was basically exactly what we all thought it would be. Setrakian killing his wife has thematic ties to Nora having to kill her mother after she gets infected. That could potentially be a strong connection. And yet, I don't think the show has the time to explore that because it only has one episode left. And the finale should spend all of its time having the conflict with the vampires come to a head.

Elsewhere, Gus is still off on his own show. This week he is trying to steal money and guns from Jamie Hector aka the guy he and his pal sold that stolen car to earlier this season. None of it has much of a point. It's surprising and exciting when he shoots the lock off of the container and a bunch of vampires are there ready to strike. But I'm much more intrigued to see how the hell the special ops vampires figure into this entire narrative. They are the characters I want to spend time with. Not Gus or the other extraneous characters throughout the season. They popped up once before and I want to know what makes them so special and different from the rest of the characters the show would rather spend time on.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Last Rites" was written by Carlton Cuse, David Weddle & Bradley Thompson and directed by Peter Weller.
  • Palmer comes face-to-face with the Master and he finally gets what he has dreamed of since agreeing to do all of this. He is now immortal. But mostly, it's fun watching him maniacally laugh outside in the rain.
  • The show is really pushing the Eph and Dutch relationship hard. The only real question he has is if she likes men or women. Ugh. I really don't want this at all. I'm not against it. I just don't think the show could handle romanticism that well.
  • I like Jamie Hector. I don't like a show not knowing how to use Jamie Hector.
  • I'm really looking forward to the return of Gabriel in the finale. At least, I'm pretty sure he'll reappear. He should be the representation of what happens to the vampires once they've matured after a month.