It’s the first of a Peter Weller directing double-feature on The Strain! The man who embodied Buckaroo Banzai, Robocop, and William S. Burroughs on the big screen and has recently been making his name on TV with recurring roles on 24, Dexter, Sons of Anarchy, Longmire, and a brilliant episode of Fringe, has also spent these last few years in the director’s chair for episodes of Sons of Anarchy, Hawaii Five-O, Longmire, and now The Strain. In addition to his film and television work, Weller also completed his master’s degree in Roman and Renaissance Art at Syracuse University in 2004, and received a PhD in Italian Renaissance art history from UCLA in 2014. Always an actor’s actor, with Dr. Weller behind the camera, I fully expected this episode to emphasize the performances and hopefully the inherent weirdness in the story so far. I was not disappointed. There were other things I was disappointed with, but not the performances or the weirdness. The biggest thing that stuck out to me was an issue with Abraham’s (David Bradley) flashbacks to WWII. His experiences in the concentration camp are interesting and Young Abe (Jim Watson) isn’t bad in the role – he’s not really given a lot of opportunity to do more than fret and worry so far — but he appears to be at least around 20 years old in 1944. That puts Bradley’s Abraham at 90 years old (when the actor himself was born in 1942). I suppose it’s not unheard of for a 90 year old to be running around beheading vampires with his silver walking cane sword, but it makes it harder to believe and drives home an interesting point about our pop culture. We are rapidly reaching the stage where we’re going to have to stop using the Holocaust as a source for characters’ origins or defining moments unless they were children at the time. In ten years’ time, even that’s going to be out of the realm of possibility. When the novels were published (2009) the story was set just a few years after 9/11, making the novel version of Abe 79 or 80, which was already pushing the limits of credulity. But that aside, the rest of the episode is an interesting combination of murder, male bonding, and Holocaust flashbacks. In fact, a helluva lot goes on this week. The episode opens with the aftermath of Bolivar’s (Jack Kesy) genital nightmare as a urologist arrives and is promptly turned into lunch. Not only was this a disturbingly tense scene just for the inevitable reveal of Bolivar feeding, but for his primal growls of “Mine! Mine!” as he drags his still living victim back into the shadows. His quick-thinking manager (Regina King) arranges for a “cleaner” to come take care of the situation, who turns out to be none other than the always welcome independent horror writer/director/producer Larry Fessenden! His quirky character also doesn’t last long, but his brief appearance was a welcome introduction of novelty to the episode. We also check in with Lawyer-Bitch Joan Luss (Leslie Hope) and meet her kids and their nanny. She’s not doing too well, and the way she’s sniffing around her kids freaks out Neeva (Kim Roberts) who grabs the kids and runs after seeing Luss’ creepy vampire eyelids blink. Abraham and Eph (Corey Stoll), after a casual breakfast (made in the home of their vampire victims as far as I can tell – if they’ve moved to another location it’s not clear, so I prefer to imagine them making themselves at home) decide to move on to Ansel Barbour’s (Nikolai Witschl) house as the next on their kill list. There’s also the casual introduction of Abe’s Excellent Silver Nail Gun. This is another very effectively directed scene with a horrible conflation of the disturbing with the mundane as our heroes discover Ann-Marie (Alex Paxton-Beesley) dead by suicide, hanging in the stairway. Their confrontation with Ansel in the shed (which I’m pretty sure is a TARDIS given how much bigger it is on the inside than the outside) is quick and brutal, as Eph wields the Nail Gun in one hand and his cell phone in the other to capture video evidence of the vampire infection in action. Abe quickly dispatches Ansel and his still-mostly-human neighbor victim. The vampire-hunting team-up doesn’t last long though, as Eph is convinced that his cell-phone video will get the CDC to set up a massive quarantine, but as the sun sets he discovers that instead he’s a wanted man for the murder of Captain Redfern. Across town, Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand) figures out that something is driving all the rats in the city from the sewers and takes a little trip underground to see if he can figure out what’s up. Luckily, he does this while the sun is up, because he stumbles onto a nest of vampires and barely gets back above ground before they get their claws and stingers into him. Meanwhile, Dr. Martinez (Mía Maestro) is forced to deal not only with an impending vampire apocalypse, but with a mother (Anne Betancourt) suffering from dementia. As night falls at the nursing home, we get our first out-in-the-open vampire attack – conveniently at the nursing home! So when this episode ends, we’ve got Doc Martinez and her mother fleeing into the streets and Eph blending into crowds. The two scenes are wildly different in tone, with the nursing home in total chaos but the streets outside the CDC relatively calm and crowded. As far as first waves of attack go, The Master seems a little sloppy. It seems like he’d have more of a handle on the new recruits, otherwise what’s the big deal with the impending eclipse? I guess we’ll have to wait until next time to find that out. The Strain 1.05 “Runaways”3.5Overall ScoreShare this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.