The Strain once again proves itself to be one of the most frustrating shows on television right now. With the fantastic “Creatures of the Night” you’d normally expect an upswing in episodes following that, as was the case with Agents of SHIELD’s gamechanger, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” But unlike SHIELD, The Strain isn’t quite finding the forward momentum, wasting time with episodes that do little to advance the plot serving as filler, and proving that the series would be better suited to 10, or even 8 episodes rather than 13.
There were several things that I didn’t like about “Loved Ones,” including the fact that, unlike previous episodes, it was a lot slower than normal. As was the case with Saturday’s Doctor Who, this meant for a more atmospheric episode. However, The Strain doesn’t quite accomplish that, feeling dull and boring. There were no scary moments in this episode and it was just, once again, plain forgettable.
However, saying that, while it may have been a disappointment, The Strain still benefited, as it always does, from the likes of Durand (Vasiliy) and
Bradley (Abraham) in the cast. Their presence (along with Del Toro’s) is one of the main reasons why I’m sticking around with this show (and also because there’s only three episodes left; I might as well check out the whole season now that I’m this far in). However, I can already see a major problem with Bradley – most titles that have ‘mentor’ type old men on the forces of good don’t tend to last long, (Eragon, Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc.) which is a real shame if this happens as Bradley has been simply fantastic in every scene. I haven’t read the books so I don’t know his (or any of the other characters’) fate, so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve got the feeling that Bradley’s days are numbered in this show. Thankfully, at least Durand looks like he’s going to be sticking around a while.
This episode also highlighted Dutch’s weakness as a character. She’s consistently one of the weaker members of the team and serves as nothing more than a ripoff of the main female protagonist from The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, with depth not being exactly her strongest point. The team-up with Vasiliy could have allowed for a cooler moment (and in any other show, it probably would have done), but here, it doesn’t really work, mainly because her character is just so one dimensional, which is again, another disappointment.
Another thing that did kind of work about this week’s episode was the flashback and development of Kelly, Eph’s ex-wife, and her storyline, told in one of the most new ways that The Strain has used to divert from its normal formula. It was interesting to see her flashbacks connect to an actual main storyline, unlike Abraham’s, which were mainly used to provide more information about the Master and his own past. Hopefully this will continue to happen in future episodes with more relevant flashbacks on display.
In conclusion then, The Strain’s tenth episode is largely filler despite an interesting divergence in the normal flashback material. It once again underlined the weaknesses of the show itself while giving us little positive elements, but with only three episodes left now on the series, it shouldn’t be long before everything hits the fan, which is when Del Toro excels, and hopefully we can get an awesome finale.