The Strain: ‘The Box’

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The premiere of The Strain made me pleasantly optimistic about the the future of the show, and I had mentally prepared for a follow-up episode full of awesomeness and beautiful gore, but alas my expectations have deceived me! Episode two was monumentally mediocre, until the very end which made more promises that I’m reluctant to believe.

This episode lacked the craftsmanship of its predecessor. It was void of the color, interesting cinematography, and even the emotion.

The Emotional Adventures of Dr. Goodweather

Dr. Goodweather’s emotional depth is solidified, or at least that’s what they were going for. His family strife continues with an impending custody battle. He takes a brief break from the potential vampire epidemic to visit with his son. When he arrives to his ex-wife’s home, he’s morally accosted by an old acquaintance. After that terrible interaction he goes deeper into the house, only to find his son bonding with his wife’s new partner as they remodel his old office.

He leaves the house, and immediately goes to an AA meeting where he bluntly unleashes all of his very cliche flaws and problems: “I was married to the job”, “I’m so stressed right now, and I want to drink.”, “My son is all that I have” and the like.

Normally the nature of the problems wouldn’t particularly bother me, because they’re traditional tropes of hero. I can’t complain about them using a pre-existing archetype. The real problem that I have is that it’s done so hollowly. It could be a preference problem, but be warned – I was not convinced.


The Professional Adventures of Dr. Goodweather

On the professional front there are some interesting developments. It begins with the CDC attempting to help a detective solve the curious case of the crushed head. They brilliantly deduce that it would take quite a bit of pressure to crush a mans head to that degree. Before any useful information can be attained about the mystery head-crusher, Goodweather is called away when he is informed that one of the four survivors from the plane has contacted his lawyer and wishes to leave.  Surprise! It’s the not-so-cool “rock star” that I had talked about last week.

The Doctor is very upset that his superiors did not back him up on the whole “potential epidemic” thing, so he runs up to their offices and shakes him by the collar. His boss makes it very clear that this may be his last case. The conversation is bisected by an official from the Department of Health and Human Services informing him that keeping the airport closed could potentially cause a mini-depression in the economy.

It’s important to mention that while his emotional and professional adventures are happening, he is desperately trying to get in contact with his good friend at the coroner’s office, who we know has recently been drained by a couple vampire things.

Goodweather’s last hope on his quest for knowledge is to appeal to the better nature of the pilot, who willingly agrees to be examined. He is brought to the hospital and they realize that his face is filled with their mystery parasite (the worm from the billboards)!

While in the car, he becomes sufficiently annoyed that his deceased friend has not returned his calls. He decides to go to the morgue. During the commute one of the passengers’ fathers calls him to thank him for the safe return of his child. Despite finding it peculiar, he shrugs it off for the moment.

The arc ends with the protagonist and his partner arriving to the morgue only to find two-hundred-something empty body bags.


New York Secret Vampire Club

By far the most interesting part of this episode deals with the secret vampire club, which is what I am going to call this group of old men that have arranged for this coffin to arrive or have some knowledge of it.

The Hunter from the first episode sits in his jail cell, when a guard summons him to the visitors room to speak to his “lawyer”. When he arrives at the glass, he looks through and sees an adversary.  The dialog in this scene is worth the entire episode. You learn that the sword he had brought with him is the weapon of choice of a potentially fallen vampire, my hunch about the heart in the jar was correct, and that after he does his time in the slammer he plans to go out and kill all of the members of the secret vampire club.

We also get to know a little bit about the motives of the “figurehead” of the vampire club. We find out that he is dying from failing organs, and it’s probably not too much of a leap to assume that his plan is to turn into a vampire to cheat death.

zap-the-strain-season-1-episode-2-the-box-2014-009The Rock Star

This guy is a monumental douche. He’s released from quarantine, and immediately invites his lawyer over to his penthouse to knock boots. She graciously declines, as she has a husband and family or whatever. The interesting part of this interaction is we get a little insight about the transformation process. He hears a ringing in his ears and she starts to bleed from her mouth and cuts herself on her teeth.

After striking out with his lawyer, he asks him manager to choose a couple girls for him to bring back to his place to do the dirty. There’s no screen-time coverage of her selection process, but we can imagine how it went.

Later it cuts to his place of residence where he is preparing himself to be serviced by three women. One of the women makes a comment about his lack of awareness in the situation. He assures her that he’ll be fine, and they should just keep doing their thing. Eventually, he goes into a deeper trance and takes a big ol’ bite into one of their necks.

The women are not pleased, and they run away in fear as he yells at them.


Miscellaneous Vampire Stuffs

The dying member of the secret vampire club visits a garage where it is revealed that the mysterious head crusher A.K.A the head vampire, is more humanoid than one would expect. He removes his hood to expose a bald head.

Of the creatures that escaped the morgue, the only one we’ve really gotten a chance to see is the daughter of the gentleman that calls Goodweather to thank him. There is a super small portion of this episode that yields a creepy image of a little girl with a monster tube shooting out of her throat into the neck of her father and feeding on him in the bathtub. It’s gruesome, but interesting. The only word she says is “hungry”.

Nuts and Bolts

1) There are apparently two types of vampires. One set has the monster tube coming out of their mouth, and the other has the traditional teeth.

2) For whatever reason, the criminal that delivers the coffin is focused on for a little bit. We don’t really learn anything new except that he is trying to go the straight and narrow, and his brother is a free-loading heroine addict.

3) There is a very deliberate shot that could maybe be seen as a foreshadowing that Goodweather is going to end up with his partner. Either that, or the director has a weird idea of how long the scene should be.

Again, if you’re a geek and like to read ahead.

You can buy the graphic novels of The Strain at InstockTrades for almost half off. Written by David Lapham, it’s pretty good.

You can buy the kindle editions of the trilogy (613 Pages) for five dollars on amazon. Written by Del Toro and Hogan.

Just a friendly note: Despite how negative this recap may have appeared, I’m still very interested in the series. I think it has a lot of potential to be really different and break the mold on vampire dramas.

Ruben Ruiz

Ruben Ruiz

Movie buff, comic nerd, and fashion conscience male. -- I'm also deathly afraid of alligators.
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