The Strain S1E1, “Night Zero”

Strain Poster 2

Lisa is now with The Horror Honeys as their resident TV Honey, which means you can still read her terrific write-ups.  Read her take on “Night Zero” here.

I tell people that I’ve read these books, but, in reality, I listened to them as I commuted from Cincinnati to Lexington.  The first book was read by Ron Perlman.  I liked the book, but it was unclear if I really liked it or if I just liked the idea of Hellboy telling me a vampire story.  Probably a little of both.

It has been a while since I’ve read the book, but I’ve read the comic book somewhat recently, so I have a pretty good working knowledge of the plot and how all the characters connect to each other.
Without that knowledge, I feel like I would have been a little lost.  It seemed like they threw a bunch of random scenes together and didn’t even try to explain how any of them fit together.  I understand that’s part of the mystery of the story, but the execution was really sloppy.  It felt less like building intrigue and more like mass confusion.

The acting was uneven.  I generally like Corey Stoll, and, while he was the best actor here, there were times when it seemed like he’d rather be somewhere else.  Sean Astin wasn’t terrible as Turncoat Jimbo, but he wasn’t given much to work with.  David Bradley was fine as Abraham Setrakian, but, honestly, I’m a little disappointed that role wasn’t filled by John Hurt (although I suppose that’s a personal issue).  The rest of the cast fluctuated between “somewhat passable” and “soap opera”.  I’m hoping that the addition of the always excellent Kevin Durand (as my favorite character, Vasiliy Fet) will help to gloss over some of those issues.

Overall, I thought this episode showed promise, but I had quite a few problems with it.  I think it could turn into a really good series.  It needs to improve for me to get really excited about it (something I’m sure the big wigs at FX are concerned about: “How can we get Dusty excited about this show?”), but I know it can get there.  The story is there.  They just need to get better about making it more coherent and being less cheesy with the relationship aspects.  I know that the relationships are what drives this – especially as the story progresses – so it’s more than a little concerning to see those scenes being completely fumbled.
Right now, I’m firmly in the “cautiously optimistic” camp.

And now, some loves and hates about this first episode.


1. Corey Stoll’s terrible wig.  I assume the script is riddled with lines like, “Eph runs his frustrated fingers through his FULL HEAD OF HAIR.”  It’s really distracting.  I’m hoping he shaves it in the second episode.  “No hair for the vampires to grab, you see.”

2. The scenes between Eph and Kelly.  I understand needing to establish that storyline, but it was a really slow scene that really dragged the episode down from a very early point.  Also, Kelly kept using the phrase, “You get straight As in your job.”  Who says that?

3.  Eph and his milk-drinking while investigating.  Seemed like they were trying too hard to establish him as “the eccentric genius of the CDC”.  They drew attention to it at least 3 times in a short timeframe.  I hope that goes away.

4.  Kelly’s boyfriend, Matt.  He comes across as a total jackass.  I don’t remember him being like that in the book.  What’s the point?  To give us another reason to cheer for Eph?

5.  Setrakian showing up and pulling the whole, “I know what’s going on, and time is of the essence, but I won’t tell you what’s going on because you’ll think I’m crazy.”  Here’s how to handle that situation: “I know what’s happening.  I’ve seen it before.  There’s a coffin, right?  Now, let me explain what is going on.”  If Eph doesn’t listen to that, that’s on him.  Ranting like a madman never helped a situation like this.  That’s a pretty dope swordcane, though.

6.  The scene with the father of the little girl slapping Eph in the airport.  Felt really forced, and the father was a terrible actor.  Just an annoying scene.


1. The intro.  Short and creepy, with terrific music.  There are very few long intros that I like, so I always appreciate a short, well-done intro.

2. Setrakian feeding the heart.  Really creepy.

3.  The Master going for the blood drain/neck snap/head smash combo.  It was like watching a Mortal Kombat fatality.  I kept waiting for an offscreen voice to say, “Finish him!”

4.  The “Sweet Caroline” scene.  Really well done.  Very creepy.  I loved the contrast of a happy song over the creepiness and carnage unfolding on the screen.  Probably the best scene in the episode.
Even then, though, I have some problems.  All of those bodies were brought from the plane.  “Triple-bagged” Eph said (they don’t know where those hoes have been).  Whatever killed them was unknown and lethal, and they had no idea what it was.  So what does the guy doing autopsies wear?  Regular latex gloves.  No hazmat suit.  Just gloves.  No wonder the worms got you.

And finally, my word of advice: if a loved one that you presume to be dead shows up with a blank expression and sunken cheeks, do not hug them.

The Walking Dead Season 4 Finale

How does that quote from Jurassic Park go? “Hold on to your butts.”  They should have shown that before the season finale started. We’ve been hearing all season long that this finale was going to be particularly brutal with a crazy ending.  Well, it was certainly brutal, but the ending ….we will talk about later.


I have a real love/hate relationship with the use of flashbacks; I have been waiting months for this episode and to be taken back to the beginning of the season is mildly annoying, but it was really great to get one more day with Hershel. It was also nice of him to take the responsibility for turning Rick into a farmer. While I understand the use of the flashbacks, they were interrupting the story that I wanted to see and they, mostly, seemed to be really blatant illustrations and reminders of how all of the characters have changed. Carl cleaning the gun while young Woody Allen plays with Legos? I get it. I think we all watched Carl’s innocence die when he shot his own mother.

While Rick, Carl and Michonne are walking along to Terminus, Carl asks such an interesting and sad question. “Are we going to tell them? Everything that has happened to us. All of the stuff we’ve done. Are we going to tell them the truth?” He knows that they have done some questionable things, but they were necessary for survival. Right? It’s a good question; who are they? They are definitely no longer the people that we are seeing in the flashbacks and we haven’t even seen the worst of it yet. Oh Carl, you have made me so angry lately, but when your instinct was to run and help that poor man being attacked by walkers, I just wanted to tell you to get back in the house. Every time you do something brave and adult I immediately picture your father carrying you to Hershel’s farm with that gunshot wound. It is so tragic that such a young man has to make so many adult decisions and face ugly things that no one should ever face.


Enter the Claimed Clan; what an ugly, ugly group of human beings. You could feel the disgusting glee wafting off of them at the prospect of rape and murder. For me, this was the most visceral scene thus far in the series. I haven’t been this upset since Zed got the gimp out. Thank goodness Daryl hadn’t bailed on these bastards like he had planned. Daryl just keeps proving to us why he is a great man; telling the men to take the blood that they’re looking for from him. Swoon. The events that occurred after this statement were so ugly and so brutal, but they were epic. Rick may have been playing farmer, but when that disgusting excuse of a human went after Carl, the Ricktatorship was back in full force. I actually raised my hands in the air and said “FUUUUUUUUUUUCK!” when he bit that guys jugular out. Just when I thought it couldn’t get more exciting, his crazy voice said, “He’s mine” regarding the pedophile. Yeah, it was over the top, but that death was pretty kind considering the man’s actions and I needed that revenge almost as much as Rick did. Big kudos to Chandler Riggs for that look on his face as he watched his dad go caveman.

All of that violence seemed to lift the fog that had been clouding Rick. He has his brother Daryl, he has Michonne and he has Carl. He seemed back to himself when they were walking to Terminus.


The moment between Michonne and Carl was beautiful. We finally know what happened to her family and we also know exactly what made her turn so cold. It’s really wonderful that she has returned to her normal self just in time to help Carl realize that he isn’t the monster that he fears he is.


Always the sheriff, Rick and the gang scope Terminus out before sneaking in the back door.   (Shall we start taking bets on how long it takes for Carol and Tyreese to unearth Rick’s gun stash and save the day?)  I really loved the visual of Rick, Carl, Michonne and Daryl standing in a perfect line, staring Gareth and his people down. They are an army, a team and they can communicate without speaking. This does not bode well for anyone who would be foolish enough to mess with them. I’m looking at you, Gareth.


Now, we all knew that Terminus was suspicious, but we weren’t sure how. Good old Rick, noticing Glen’s riot gear, Maggie’s poncho and Hershel’s watch just as Alex says, “The more people become a part of us, we get stronger.” So, is that literally or metaphorically? As our group is herded by gunfire along the “A” route to their train car, we get to see what looks to be a cemetery of sorts; a room filled with candles, flowers and names. Names of people who ended up on the BBQ? This route has clearly been used many times to herd people by gunfire. Creepy.

The final showdown between Gareth and Rick was very interesting. I found it very telling that Gareth referred to them as Ringleader, Archer, Samurai and Kid; everyone knows that you don’t name your food. More than that, if you want to break someone down, you start by taking away their identity. I know that I sound like a broken record, but this place just smacks of cult. No way is it just cut and dry cannibalism. Crazy thought, but perhaps that funeral home was a way to trap people and save them from Terminus. Terminus has a radio frequency, maps and signs leading you to it; why would they need that funeral home?Beth may be the safest person on the show right now.


It is so great to have everyone back together and I couldn’t be more giddy about the return of The Ricktatorship. I am quite happy that we did not lose a main character, however, they really had us believing that was going to happen, so, the ending of the season was not as nail biting as I had anticipated and I am very conflicted by that. Regardless, Terminus, you are definitely fucking with the wrong people.