The Strain S02E05 “Quick And Painless” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Watch, Wednesdays, 10pm
Writer: Liz Phang
Director: J Miles Dale
Essential Plot Points:
- Eph shaves his head and – using forged papers – makes his way to Washington with the strigoi plague.
- Oh, and he kills his double-crossing old boss on the way. As you do.
- Dutch and Nora bargain for Fet’s freedom by showing Councilwoman Feraldo the quick method of identifying those who are worm-infested.
- Dutch and Fet then help the police rid an apartment block of Feelers, or Spider-Kids as the police refer to them (we prefer that name).
- Setrakian approaches a gang renowned for being able to procure things for money to help him search for the Occido Lumen.
- Cardinal McNamara tells Palmer that he will soon have procured the Occido Lumen.
- Zach is irritating.
So Eph is bald now. This might have been a good disguise if shaving all his locks hadn’t left with him a demeanour so shifty he may as well have had a big neon glowing sign over his head saying, “WANTED FUGITIVE”. Somehow he makes it to Washington, though only by killing his old boss when he throws him off a train. Considering how much Eph had been drinking all episode it’s a surprise he didn’t fall off the train himself.
Eph’s whole journey was a mind-numbing exercise in false tension. The writers had to make it look like the journey was fraught with danger, but the “peril” was as artificial as Piers Morgan’s sincerity. The result was a series of scenes that dragged pointlessly climaxing in a laughably banal fight scene between a drunk and a fat bloke.
Thankfully the audience was allowed off the train at regular intervals to enjoy some other action of the kind the show does a lot better. The first big set piece was an impressive fight between some cops and the Feelers – a superb piece of small-screen action/horror, and an excellent way to open the episode.
Fet was in fine fettle too; even in incarceration he appears to be enjoying himself with a game of poker, and once freed, he’s soon being employed by a grudgingly impressed cop to help him splat some Strigoi. In fact, Fet, Dutch and the Cop, Kawolski, make such a great team of vamp-busters, maybe Eph could stay in Washington and the show can concentrate on these three instead?
Elsewhere, both Setrakian and Palmer were closing in on the Big Book Of Vampire-Slaying Secrets, using wildly different partners to help achieve their aims. The aged Jewish hunter turned to a street gang while the boss of Stoneheart had God – or at least one of his reps – on his side: Cardinal MacNamara. It’s a fun juxtaposition, and rams home the show’s anti-establishments credentials: any business, political and, now, religious leader is corrupt as they come. Except Feraldo, who’s not corrupt so much as blinkered and a borderline dictator.
As for Coco coming onto Palmer with increasingly less subtlety… it’s so gross (and not because he’s old but because he’s slimy) it’s actually becoming hypnotic. Does the girl have some weird fetish for creepy old men? Their dance in front of burning apartment block – seemingly not much bothered if anyone’s in danger inside – is a wonderfully darkly comic moment.
You know, this show would be much better off without Eph and his Ephing son…
- The police versus “spider-kids” battle right at the start of the episode was excellent – tense, excitingly directed and featuring some brilliant special effects with the Feelers leaping about and scaling the walls.
- Fet, Dutch and police officer Kawolski made a great team. The one-upmanship between Fet and Kawolski was especially amusing, with the dynamite-obsessed rat-catcher extolling the virtues of silver and Kawolski replying, “Why wouldn’t I just do this?” then shooting a strigoi in the head. “Fair point,” admited Fet.
- The look on Palmer’s face when he realised he’d just made a very bad taste joke in front of Coco was a peach (“Saves us having to bother with our fireplace,” he said when they saw an apartment block in flames across the street).
- Setrakian genuinely came across as being able to handle himself against a street gang – he’s actually pretty scary.
- “Denial is a special privilege of the rich.” Great line.
- Feraldo’s inability to euthanise her own nephew is an effective character moment.
- Eph’s train journey was simply very dull until he bumped off Everett Barnes, which was so badly directed it was like a ’3os screwball comedy. We half-expected a, “Wa… a… waaaaaaaahhhhh!” on the soundtrack.
- Nora is just a plot device in a lab coat at the moment, isn’t she?
- Hang on… was that the “amazing entrance” for Quinlan at the end of the episode that Hogan and del Toro killed off Vaun to make possible? It’s not particularly impressive.
- At the risk of sounding like our needle’s stuck in a groove, DEAR GOD CAN ZACH FIND ANOTHER EXPRESSION!? The only emotion that seems to be crossing his mind at the point below is, “What expression am I supposed to have right now?”
And The Random:
- Setrakian offered Alfonzo Creem two watches. A Patek Philippe 2484 fetched $5,500 in a US auction last year, while the Patek Philippe split seconds chronograph reference 1563 – of which there are indeed only three known examples in the world – is valued at between $850,000 and $1.5 million.
- The song Coco and Eldritch dance to is, “I’m glad I Waited For You” sung by Peggy Lee.
- Hang on – did that Feeler really use its tongue to try to grab Officer Dempsey by his nuts? It’s not totally clear but that’s what it looks like. In which case The Strain has managed to slip onto TV one of the most queasily subversive images ever. It’s just not right…!