With the UK release of the fourth and fifth episodes, The Strain reaches its scariest senses yet, with even more frights as the infected become more sinister in presence, and higher in numbers…
Warning: Spoilers follow!
As the virus affects more and more people, we see more gore than before. Episode 4, “It’s Not For Everyone”, starts with an autopsy on the pilot of the airplane that started it all. The previous week’s “Gone Smooth” ended with a pretty horrific scene of the pilot becoming fully infected and trying to kill Dr. Eph (Corey Stoll) and his mystery gang – Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) and Jim Kent (Sean Astin).
The autopsy was a work of prosthetic genius with a full detailed body of the infected finally being shown to the viewers. The details of the virus become more apparent when Dr. Eph spends a while trying to pull out the snake like creature out of the body’s mouth (well done SFX guy, though, pretty gross).
As the show continues, Jim reveals he was the one who let the box leave the airport, and so endangered all of humanity as we know it – good one Jim. Eph develops further as he is furious by this betrayal and struggles to get anyone to believe him and join his cause. He is no longer casted as the troubled family man but a driven hero who wants to save millions of lives, especially apparent in Episode 5: “Runaways”.
Throughout these episodes, we see how the strain has affected the living survivors, starting with the nerdy father figure Ansel Barbour (Nikolai Witschl). This was particularly heartbreaking for all animal lovers out there as Ansel becomes self-aware of his ruthless bloodlust when he slaughters the family dog, and so chains himself up in the shed.
When Ansel’s wife sees first hand her husband’s now murderous nature, she kills herself, and in “Runaways”, self appointed vampire hunter Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley) shows his heartless nature by leaving her body hanging on the staircase. There’s apparently no time for emotion when dealing with the fate of humanity.
The other survivors also show their true colours when gothic rock star Gabriel Bolivar (Jack Kesy) attacks his urologist and the man hired to dispose of his urologist’s body. All survivors now are in this animalistic zombie state where they do not fully understand their actions – their humanity is now completely dead, replaced by a whole new biological system made to consume its host and spread (according to Dr. Eph’s autopsy).
Bossy, cold hearted lawyer Joan Luss (Lesley Hope) is the slowest one to transform, with her eyes slowly turning increasingly red by the day and some early signs such as her sniffing her children’s necks in her progressive desire for blood.
My favourite thing about these two episodes is the larger involvement of both Abraham Setrakian and the badass rat killer (Exterminator Vasiliy Fet, played by Kevin Durand). As Abraham saved Dr. Eph and Nora from the little girl Emma and her also infected father he’s now a part of their team. Abraham’s cavalier attitude for cutting off heads is brilliant. He knows the full extent of the problem and will not rest until this strain is eliminated.
Dr. Eph gets on board and they become the oddest vampire hunting team in TV history, while Nora finds killing children a little too far and heads home pretty shaken up. I think I speak for all viewers when I say I am also looking forward to seeing more flashbacks into Abe’s harrowing past at the concentration camp, with more clues to the puzzle of The Master revealed each episode.
Meanwhile, Vasiliy Fet wonders why the rats are evacuating the sewers. During his investigation, he is attacked by hundreds of the infected and absolutely terrifying zombies in the drains. This is likely leading to something good, as the grim underground is the perfect place to build up tension and really make us viewers jump out of our skin. The reliance on makeup and costume over CGI in The Strain so far is also admirable, proving you really can create something hideous with nothing more than a little fake blood and some contact lenses.
“Runaways” ends in an appropriate panic, as Nora sees an infected man in a care home her mother is staying at, proving the strain is becoming increasingly public and deadly. It seems like Eph and Abe are the only ones to save them all, and with no one to believe them, they will have to go it alone, silver nail gun in hand.
Catch The Strain on Watch, Wednesdays at 10pm.