The Strain S1x11 “The Third Rail”
Once again, The Strain failed to deliver on the promise that it had with an episode that, on paper, sounded awesome. Eph, Nora, Vasily and Abraham heading underground to confront the Master? Hell yeah, I was intrigued by what this episode had to offer. It could have easily lived up to Creatures of the Night (S1x08), in terms of awesomeness, but in a way that I’ve come to expect from this series, whenever you’re looking forward to something good it will let you down, and that was very much the case with The Third Rail, and by the hour’s end I was once again thankful that this is only 13 episodes as opposed to the 22-23 that most network series have to offer.
The episode itself split the action between three threads, focusing on Gus, whose storyline is still somewhat disconnected from the main event, the main group of characters, with Eph and Nora tagging along on what Abraham fully intends to be a suicide mission, something that they aren’t exactly the best suited for. And Zack, Eph’s son, was left behind to look after Mariela. Despite the fact that we got to see more of the Master and the tunnel scenes did go some way to help build the atmospheric feel of this show, The Third Rail ultimately didn’t really deliver on many occasions. There was no great leap in plot advancement and it seems once again that the series is tiding itself over until the final episode.
Easily the best moment that came from this hour was the confrontation between Eph and the Master. It was played out so well that once again reminded me that The Strain could actually be great, and it was a real disappointment that the rest of the episode couldn’t quite live up to that height. The atmosphere was pulled off exceptionally well and the scene turned out to be pretty powerful indeed, really showing just how out of his league Eph was with the Master. Maybe more scenes like that in the future and The Strain could actually become a good show.
A refreshing change, however, came from Gus’s storyline. Normally it’s dull and detracts from the main events of the episode feeling unrelated, and while The Third Rail didn’t see him starting to link up with our team, it did plant a few hints that we were heading in that direction soon. It was an interesting element that again showed there is still good things to be found in this series, despite the relative amount of negativity and unfulfilled potential.
The focus on Zack and Mariela proved to be one of the weakest moments of this episode, however, and in contrast to Gus’s sections, they were dull and boring. Right now Mariela is somebody who pretty much exists to only get in the way of what the characters do and Zack being barely tolerable is another thing that made this part feel as uninteresting as it did. All through the episode I kept thinking, did they really leave Eichorst, one of the most enjoyable characters of the season so far, out for this?
And also, while we’re on the subject of absent characters from this episode, what about that Vampire SWAT team? They’ve only showed up briefly so far and yet we haven’t seen them since, which is frustrating since this was one of the cooler concepts that the show introduced. Hopefully we’ll get more of them before the season ends.
In conclusion then, this was another underwhelming episode of The Strain. Although the Eph/Master scenes were cool and Gus improved this week, the focus on Zack and Mariela as well as the always-present below-par dialogue prevented this week’s episode from reaching its potential.