Monday, 24 July 2017

The Strain 'Blood Tax' Review

This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS, if you do not want certain plot points or story spoilt, please do not read further.

With the first episode of the new season of The Strain focusing on Ephraim and Fet, and their experiences on the fringes of the new strigoi controlled world, episode two focuses on Setrakian, Dutch, and Gus, and gives us a look into the inner workings of this new world.

We learn that Dutch and Setrakian have remained together after sending Fet and Quinlan to search for a nuclear weapon, and that the two of them are still trying to find some further information within the Occido Lumen to help them to destroy the Master.

When their apartment building is set on fire Dutch manages to fight off a number of strigoi and hides the Lumen away safely, unfortunately this does not stop her and Setrakian from being arrested and taken to a processing facility.

The first scenes at the strigoi compound are extremely unpleasant, and mirror the season one episodes where we see a young Setrakian being led into a Nazi concentration camp. Whilst this scene doesn't generate the same amount of distress any re-creation of the Holocaust does, the similarities make it incredibly uncomfortable; something that is played incredibly well by David Bradley.

After being separated, we learn that Dutch has been selected to be used as breeding stock. She joins a group of other women who all have a desired blood type who are made to get pregnant, give birth and go through the whole experience again and again, as a way of keeping the strigoi's favourite blood around after the end of the world.

Fortunately, Dutch is already forming plans to escape from the facility. Unfortunately for her, she manages to catch the eye of the facility administrator, Sanjay Desai, who wants her to help him to keep the peace with the other women.

With Desai keeping a eye on Dutch she enlists the help of one of the delivery men to help her escape from the facility. When the plan goes wrong, however, she has to turn him over to the strigoi, and certain death, in order to ensure her safety.

Back in New York, Gus is now running an underground black market with Alfonzo Creem. Using Gus' cousin Raul's connections they manage to infiltrate a Partnership facility in order to steal food and supplies.

When the plan goes slightly wrong the group are forced to take Raul with them in order to protect him. This decision not only produces some conflict between Gus and Creem, who did not want to take Raul with them, but also introduces somewhat of an innocent character to help bring out some more humanity in Gus that may be missing since the loss of Angel.

Whilst the focus of the episode is with Dutch, Setrakian, and Gus, we do check in with Ephraim, who is still with the freedom fighters he encountered in the last episode.

Ephraim and Alex begin to bond a little this episode, following on from their somewhat cold interaction in the season premier. Whilst Eph doesn't admit that his son is responsible for the apocalypse, the two of them do bond over the loss of their children.

Im hoping that this relationship will continue to grow over coming weeks, as the two of them seem to work well together. Even though Eph intends to leave the group he talks himself into staying with them in order to make a strike against the strigoi on a larger level, setting up for what is sure to be exciting developments in the next episode.

'Blood Tax' has a lot more depth and emotion to it than the first episode, and fleshes out the new world of the strigoi rule. The scenes with Setrakian, whilst limited, are also some of the best the show has produced, with David Bradley giving an amazingly understated performance.

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