Another week of “The Strain,” another debate with the mister about whether it should have been a movie instead of a TV show. Where the former might have gotten some critical details squeezed out, the latter continues to get away with not-quite-enough exposition each week. It’s still hurting the show’s overall effectiveness, in my opinion, but more on that shortly.
Episode 3 (“The Third Rail”) did manage to open with flawless execution, showing Thomas Eichorst in his true ancient form, applying prosthetics and makeup to appear “normal.” The contrast of his decayed flesh with the Victorian air of the set piece and music was understated and creepy. Here we’re smartly given a glimpse of what’s to come, with little burden of clichéd character development or overt dialogue.
I’ve been tough on the show, simply a high bar set by geekish optimism, but I think it’s finally starting to realize itself (though still not fast enough for my tastes, obviously). Without sounding like a broken record, I don’t think it’s the lack of action that I wish were different so much as their watering down (or perhaps just missing the mark) of what I’ll continue calling the “monolithic dread.” The moments where things don’t happen aren’t tense enough to carry me quite through to the moments they do. I’ll admit, though, those glorious few moments of raw, unbridled action are worthy of superlative praise. Think of Ansel drinking the steak juices as his wife looks on in horror, or to our glimpse of Emma Arnot hiding downstairs in her recently murdered father’s home as Eph explores upstairs. These are The Strain’s signature moments, and I just hope we’re treated to more of them than we’ve been getting to this point.
To round out my reflections with a silver lining, I do appreciate the extra attention that Gabe is getting as he grows increasingly pivotal. His almost laughable costume begins to work in his favor as his transformation begins. The effort put into his commercial-goth look intensifies as he actually becomes a living monster. It taps into the same corner of primal fear as terrifying psychotic clowns. Hopefully we’re in for some real “boss level” stuff soon.