THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!
The Strain’s second episode aired yesterday and things unfortunately got slower. The pilot was strong (although not without its issues) but not much happened in The Box, which was a shame given the potential that the Pilot provided, with there already being signs that the show might not have enough material to keep it up through its thirteen episode running time. Then again, I haven’t read the book, so I could be wrong and there could be plenty more material to come.
The second hour of The Strain doesn’t include as much vampires or as much horror as one would expect. We get the exploration of the domestic life of Eph, dealing with his alcohol problems and witnessing Matt’s renovation of his house, which is a shame because this was where the Pilot suffered. The domestic atmosphere created here should take a back seat in a show designed to shock the audience into watching behind the sofa.
The development here is clichéd and unfortunate. Much of it could have been dealt with in the pilot but Eph’s character and the gangbangers who we follow aren’t really compelling enough, and they detract from the main reason why many of us want to watch the show: We want to be scared.
It’s no surprise then, that when there are scenes of horror, they’re the best part of the show. We get the first look of the monster, which is saved towards the end of the episode, and the revelation that all is not right with the four surviving victims. The bathroom scene at the end, although not terrifying itself, was unnerving, especially with the relatively harmless-sounding music being played over the background.
It seems that David Bradley’s Abraham is a more compelling lead than Corey Stoll’s Eph as well. He really is a fantastic actor and one of the more welcoming parts of the show to watch, and if there’s more screentime focused on this character in the future then things should certainly pick up in the future. I can only hope he doesn’t suffer the fate of most ‘old mentor’ types in fiction and gets killed off before his time.
It’s also good to see the introduction of health inspector Vasily Fet, played by Kevin Durand (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones & X-Men Origins: Wolverine). It’s clear that he’s going to be a fun character to follow going forward, and hopefully he will be more involved in the storyline sooner rather than later. It does show that the series is continuing to build up to something by adding new players, and hopefully the wait will pay off.
It’s too early to jump ship in The Strain just yet, and this episode wasn’t all bad. It wasn’t especially great either, but there is still plenty of promise to be had in the series. The atmosphere that the show is creating is great and when the horror does happen, it works. There just isn’t quite enough of the horror factor yet which removes the main appeal of the show.