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The Strain S1x09 “The Disappeared”

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WARNING! SPOILERS!     

In case you’ve not had the chance to read my Doctor Who review yet, this is another quick reminder to apologise for the lack of reviews for the previous couple of episodes. This can be explained by the fact that I was in France for those two weeks, but now that I’m back, I was able to catch up in time for The Disappeared, and whilst the previous two offered a much needed improvement in the direction of the series (with the seventh featuring Tyrol from Battlestar Galactica, and the eighth delivering the best episode of the series so far), the ninth episode of The Strain has taken things sadly a step backwards just when it was starting to become great.

For the most part, the show hasn’t improved an overall lot since the pilot. Plenty of weak elements remain, and the show isn’t going all out with

The Master. One that's not played by John Simm.

The Master. One that’s not played by John Simm.

the horror allowing the character drama and their relationships to distract somewhat from the main storyline. Whilst the horror stuff, when it’s there, does work – it’s just that there isn’t enough of it, unlike Creatures of the Night (S1x08), which showed just how awesome this series could be. More like that, and less of what we have here, please.

Most of this episode feels repetitive. We’ve seen these things before, we’ve seen Abraham explain the vampires before (this time, to Eph’s son), and that’s not the only thing that’s repeated here. It just feels like the show is struggling to fill out its thirteen episode run time and maybe it could have been better served with a shorter ten or even eight episodes that served the likes of The Leftovers/Halt and Catch Fire (10) and True Detective/Penny Dreadful (8) well. 13 or 22 doesn’t have to the requirement for a show that most series tend to have. Sometimes, less is more.

But that doesn’t mean that The Disappeared is entirely a waste of time. We got some big Eichorst moments this week, as we learned how he turned into a vampire and we got to see more of The Master this time around. Eichorst is rapidly becoming one of the main reasons why I’m still watching this show (along with Abraham and the fact that Del Toro is involved), and he always makes things entertaining, playing a more than capable villain that serves as a threatening antagonist to the team (and we haven’t even seen The Master battle them yet).

The scenes with Gus were also relatively strong, with Miguel Gomez’s character evolving from more than just your average thug that when we first saw him in the pilot as the prison transfer conflict was handled well. Gus’s character is becoming more rounded and interesting, and it’ll be fun to see where his character goes from here.

I mentioned above that there was more of the Master, and this is the episode where we truly see his face. It manages to blend the line between creepy and Season 1 Buffy-level goofiness) well without going more one way than the other. It won’t put you off completely, because the way the Master reveal is executed is so well done that it could possibly be one of the more attention-grabbing reveals of the series.

So The Disappeared then, despite benefiting from some positive moments (such as the aforementioned Master reveal, and even a moment of humour when Eph declined to say any words about Matt), was a step backwards from the previous episode that was Creatures of the Night. However, problems aside, I’m still looking forward to next week’s episode and hopefully, it’ll be a fun ride.

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