Wednesday, 2 August 2017

The Strain 'One Shot' Review

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

It would appear that this season of The Strain is going to be alternating between its sets of characters each week, with the exception of Ephraim, as this episode once again follows Fet and Quinlan, and Zach and the Master.

In the woods of North Dakota Fet, Quinlan, and Charlotte continue their search for a nuclear weapon, now joined by Roman from episode one. The group manages to find the secret nuclear base that isn't on any maps, 'It would kind of defeat the whole secret base thing wouldn't it?' and searches for their goal.

Despite assurances from Roman that any remaining soldiers at the base would be more than willing to let the group take the warhead they're soon finding themselves under fire from the last remaining soldier after what appears to have been a strigoi assault on the facility.

Whilst Quinlan is shot and trapped under sniper fire whilst Fet infiltrates the base in order to save him there's not a great deal of tension in these scenes. Whilst the series hasn't been shy to kill characters in the past, including main characters, it very rarely happens in a setting as mundane as this. At no point was I worried that Quinlan or Fet wouldn't be coming out of the episode alive.

What these scenes did manage to do, however, was to show the humanity that Fet has. Fet has always been the emotional heart of the show, and one of the most caring and human characters, so it's incredibly sad to see him having to turn on his fellow humans in his mission to save them. It's especially poignant when Quinlan shoots the soldier whilst he's in Fets arms.

Quinlan has always been a cold character, caring only about his mission to kill his father, but this episode helps to reinforce that whilst he's on the side of our heroes he isn't really one of them.

Unfortunately for the group, whilst they do manage to get a nuclear warhead an important piece of the machine has been removed by the strigoi who previously attacked the base; leading to the decision to track down and attack the enemy.

Meanwhile, Ephraim has teamed up with Alex and her freedom fighters in Philadelphia to enact his plan to poison thousands of strigoi at the same time.

The scenes between Eph and Alex play out well, with Alex being a great change for Ephraim, who has spent much of the show being a grumpy and unlovable lead. The show has done away with his drinking, and now his moping is beginning to be put to one side too.

This season seems to be building Ephraim up as a damaged man fighting his way out of his depression and spiral of self destruction. He's beginning to put himself back together, and connecting with Alex has been a big part of this journey for him.

Having managed to make a deadly concoction out of rat poison (thank you Fet for all of your pest control help) it falls to the rebels to find a way of delivering the deadly mixture to the strigoi stronghold.

The mission to sneak the poison into a blood tanker is a surprisingly clever plan, and one that plays out incredibly tensely. Again, whilst there's little worry that Eph himself will meet a horrible end there is tension that Alex and the others could end up falling foul of the approaching strigoi soldiers. 

Once the poison is delivered the pan works perfectly, with thousands of strigoi and their blood worms dying. A victory for the freedom fighters, but one that may be short-lived as the Master has become aware of the attack and dispatched Eichorst to find Ephraim.

This episode also delivers more Zach (joy), as we see more of Zach trying to win over his new maid/reward from the Master, Abby. This is definitely the weakest and most boring of all of the stories this season, with little that redeems the character.

Zach was annoying before he caused the nuclear apocalypse and allowed vampires to take over the world, so I'm finding it hard to care about him trying to get laid.

Whilst Zach does try to do some good and offers Abby food for herself and the other children she's living with (children who are now orphans because Zach caused the end of the world) it doesn't feel genuine. He's not helping her because he wants to, he's doing it because he wants to get inside her knickers.

Zach does begin to question the Master and the world they now live in, but is so easily manipulated into going along with the strigoi that any kind of redemption feels impossible at this point. Even if he were to completely turn against the Master and killed him, he's caused too much damage to the world to be redeemed now.

The Strain continues to create an engaging story with characters that you care abut (other than Zach) and finally begins to feel like it's escalating after two episodes of set-up.

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