The Strain S02E04 “The Silver Angel” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Watch, Wednesdays, 10pm
Writer: Regina Corrado
Directors: J Miles Dale, Guillermo del Toro (Luchador film sequence)
Essential Plot Points:
- Eph and Nora release their vampire plague and it works. The Master orders the infected strigoi to kill themselves to stop its spread.
- Fet bombs a subway tunnel to stop vampire getting into Red Hook and gets arrested for it.
- Setrakian and Dutch visit Fitzwilliam and try to convince him to side with them. He refuses.
- Eldritch double-crosses a bunch of bankers who then become vampire food.
- In flashback, Eichorst offers Eldritch eternal life.
- Zach is irritating.
Okay – so a Mexican wrestling-themed B-movie horror black and white pastiche/homage? Yeah, that’s an entertainingly offbeat way to kick off the episode. Except, blimey it goes on a bit. Over four minutes. That’s a tenth of the episode. It’s okay for a while but not a good enough gag to warrant that amount of screen time, even if it is directed by Guillermo del Toro himself (you get the feeling no one else was brave enough to tell him it needed editing down), and especially when it’s introducing a new character who, by the end of the episode, you still don’t have a clue why the hell you should be interested in him.
Angel may develop into a great character, but if you’re going to introduce a new key player in such an elaborate fashion, the audience at least deserves to be given some clue as to why he’s important. Instead all we know after 40 minutes is that he’s a grumpy dishwasher.
It’s similar to Fitzwilliam’s reintroduction last week. At least this week we learn a little more about why he’s still in the show, though Dutch’s reason to seek him out seems bizarrely random, plucked from the thinnest of air. Equally random is Gus’s choice not just to have his first ever Indian meal but to go back to the same Indian restaurant after his encounter with his possessed mum. Things seem to happen in this episode purely because the writers need them to happen – Gus must meet Angel for some undisclosed plot mechanic – and they can’t be arsed to come up with a decent reason.
And the less said about the schmaltz-fest between Eph and his son the better. Zach in the same scene as a baseball bat…? The tension and temptation truly does bring out the Grand Theft Auto in even the gentlest of souls.
The flashback is fun – especially young Setrakian going on a strigoi-killing spree – but once again has little to add to the overall mythology. Eichorst offers Eldritch eternal life? Yeah, we’d figured that.
There are some great moments of black humour and gallows humour that save the episode, most involving Fet. The early scenes with Eph, Nora and Fet releasing their test vampire into the wild, then becoming exasperated when he doesn’t act as predicted is a wonderful lightness of touch the show could benefit from employing more often. Fet’s later monologue about about why heroes are stupid to walk away from explosions in films is another amusing highlight. He’s absent for the episode’s blackest moment of humour, though, when Eph and Nora watch the strigoi throwing themselves from a roof. It’s a ghoulishly perverse titbits like this that remind you what this show can be like at its best.
- Fet: “They say one out of every four people are mentally unstable.” Nora: “Luckily there’s only three of us.” Fet: “Not unless you include my invisible friend Donny.”
- In fact, Fet gets some great scenes and lines throughout the episode.
- Gus’s chat with the Master, who’s using Gus’s mother as a vassal, is creepily effective.
- The strigoi committing harakiri to prevent the spread of the plague.
- Young Setrakian versus the vampires in the vaults of the nunnery is really well directed.
- Too many random scenes that don’t seem to be going anywhere, and random decisions based on who knows what?
- The weekly dreary Zach subplot is more odious than ever.
- The opening black and white horror movie homage goes on way too long.
- The way Eldritch deals with the bankers feels like a completely wasted opportunity – a whole plot strand dealt with in two scenes.
- Oh God, not another episode ending with Eh’s wife inching oh so slowly ever closer to tracking down her son.
And the Random:
- Guillermo del Toro directed the opening “Luchador/horror B-movie” sequence. The faux-film’s main credits listed slightly skewed versions of the main movers and shakers on The Strain: Carlos Cuse (Carlton Cuse); Carlos Jogan (Chuck Hogan and Gustavo Delatro (Guillermo del Toro).
- Oh look, a not so subtle hint that Gus (rather unbelievably) is a Luchador fan.
- Angel is a typical male – he puts the film Angel Contra El Vampiro Maldito back in a sleeve for the film El Señor de la Tiniebla (The Lord Of Darkness).
- One of the missing posters is for a girl named Shirin. There’s a Shirin Rashid who works on the show as second assistant art director. Wanna bet that’s her in the photo on the poster?