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The Strain S1x03 “Gone Smooth”

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 WARNING! There are major spoilers for this episode.

After the strong premiere, The Strain hasn’t impressed as much as I thought it would, which is a surprise given Corey Stoll’s impressive House of Cards performance and the fact that Del Toro’s name is attached. However, despite this, it’s still managed to be just better than your average horror series. It’s fun. David Bradley is great and there are plenty of directions for this show to go in that will allow big improvements, and these improvements have started with Gone Smooth, the third episode.

Not all of Eph's team is trustowrthy...

Not all of Eph’s team can be trusted…

There are several character-centric scenes in this episode as The Strain is doing its best to get us invested in its characters before plunging them through one horror show after another. Because scenes where our leads are in constant peril only work if we care about them, and want them to make it out. Some of it is being accomplished in The Strain, that much is clear. However, other elements fall flat, which is a shame given Del Toro’s reputation and what this show could be.

The opening scene set the tone of the episode quite nicely, establishing a creepy atmosphere from the get go. We got to see that Eichorst isn’t all he appears and the disguise was a good way of showing depth to the character that probably would have come through dialogue otherwise. Richard Sammel is one of the best bits about this show and it’s great to see him in action here, bringing the character to life very well indeed. We’ve already had a great scene between Sammel and Bradley in the previous episode, but anything that features these two actors sharing the same scene should be gold. They’re just that good.

Vasily also has continued to impress as a character. Whilst he didn’t get as much development as he did in his introduction last week, what we saw was welcoming and he, along with Sammel’s Eichorst and Bradley’s Abraham, are becoming far more interesting than Stoll’s Eph. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the most boring part of the series, the Goodweather family drama, still has some of the biggest amount of screen time. The sooner we cut down or improve this, the better.

The ending scene was one of the highlights of this episode, featuring the pilot, now turned into a Vampire, fight against Eph and his two allies. It was designed to not be the smoothest thing ever and it paid off, feeling clumsy and actually working because, unlike Abraham and Eichorst, these three are new to this game. They’re meant to be less experienced. This is where The Strain is at its strongest, the horror, and ideally it will start coming a lot quicker next time around.

So I think I will keep tuning in, despite the problems that this show still has. Gone Smooth fixed a few but left several still lingering, but there’s still plenty to explore. What do you think of the show so far? Are you still watching? Let me know in the comments below.

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