The Strain S1E2, “The Box”

Strain Poster 2
After an underwhelming start to the series, I was hoping that this second episode might renew my excitement for the show.  The survivors were being released.  With The Master being transported across the river by the unaware (and always angry) Gus, the apocalypse would be starting.  In addition to that, Vasiliy Fet (my favorite character from the book, played by the always excellent Kevin Durand) would show up.

Fet showed up, which I enjoyed.  He had a small role, but I’m looking forward to what he can add to the show.  As it was, most of his part in this episode was played for laughs.  And, while I’m happy to have him aboard, I doubt I would feel the same if I had not read the books.  I likely would have wondered aloud why they were adding another character when they hadn’t come close to fleshing out the ones they already had.

This episode was pretty much like the first.  Bloated and confusing scenes masquerading as mystery.  The quicker they get all the characters together, the better off the show will be.  As it is, we’re left watching disconnected characters float around with very little reason to be invested in what they’re doing.  I understand that they’re trying to build the individual characters – to make us care about them – but they’re doing a terrible job of it so far.  Had I not read the books, I wouldn’t care about any of these characters.  As it stands, I have read the book and I’m still having a hard time caring about any of their screen versions.  Here’s to hoping that changes soon, as I’m already starting to lose interest.


1. Francis Capra’s lazy, sniveling Crispin.  He has never been the best actor, but I’ve never seen him this bad.  Weevil would be ashamed of you.

2. The dialogue is downright laughable at times.  I was particularly fond of this exchange between Captain Redfern and Eph:
“No one gives a shit about the truth.”
“I do.”
BOOM.  EPH MIC DROP.  This was delivered with all the earnestness of a soap opera.
There was a later scene with Eph and his son (Zach) that was equally terrible.  I had to check to make sure I wasn’t watching an after school special.  “Corey Stoll stars in My Son Has a New Daddy.”

3. Kelly’s friend getting mad at Eph for not remembering her name.  It’s pretty clear that they’re setting her up for a future scene but couldn’t figure out a subtle way to introduce her.  I imagine her turning into a vampire, Eph being forced to kill her and saying something like, “I remember your name now, bitch.”  I am 90% sure this will happen.

4. Eph talking about his entire past in an AA meeting.  This was more or less equivalent to dropping this information on a summary card.  I know they’re trying to get us invested in his character – to show his struggles, to make him more human – but this scene really fell flat for me.

5. Gus.  I’m crossing my fingers and hoping his scenes get better as his storyline overlaps with others, but, for now, every scene involving Gus is painful.  I like his character and storyline in the book, so I’m still holding out hope for him.

6. Eph’s wig.  C’mon man.  Embrace the baldness.  At least there was no mention of milk in this episode.


1. Jack Kesey’s portrayal of Bolivar.  It seems like that guy is having a blast.

2. The scene where Eichorst visits Satrakian in prison.  Far and away the best scene of the series so far.  Tense, emotional and well-acted.  I was glued to the TV.

3. The little girl soaking in the tub while “This Old Man” played in the background.  We saw a “cheery music in the background, horror in the foreground” scene last week with “Sweet Caroline”, and another one this week.  While I have really liked both scenes, I hope they don’t overuse it.  Still, this scene was terrific.  A great way to end the episode.