The Strain episode 8 review: Creatures Of The Night

Review Billy Grifter 3 Sep 2014 - 07:45

The Strain ups the action this week, but where is the larger narrative leading? Here's Billy's review...

This review contains spoilers.

1.8 Creatures Of The Night

Episode eight of The Strain reminded me of my childhood. Specifically, wanting something really badly, getting it around your birthday or Christmas, and then realising that it wasn’t that great and a better choice might have made you happier. For seven previous episodes I’ve wanted this show to stop wandering off on largely irrelevant subplots, to focus on the vampire killing crew and deliver some action. And that’s exactly what is on the menu here.

While looking for things to fight the infected, Abraham, Nora, Ephraim and Jim run into Vasiliy, and later on by complete accident they also collect the hacker ‘Dutch’. While these connections were massively overdue, and the action appreciated, the pre-packed form of Creatures Of The Night did reveal some rather obvious home truths about the show, and how much of it so far has been calorific filling.

As the gang end up trapped within a gas station store, it becomes very obvious that the director here wanted to emulate The Walking Dead, even going as far as to make the vampires act in a zombie-like manner, as they tried to gain access to the people inside. It was effectively a vampire 101, where they use all manner of means to kill the infected, with varying degrees of success and failure.

Anyone who has seen any horror film like this will know the procedure. First all the characters without names are killed, usually because of their own stupidity. And then one of the known names is attacked, leaving the others with a moral dilemma about their lack of future. In this case that person was Jim, who is infected early on, and then is given the hope he’s saved, before reality kicks in. This sequence is also indicative of how badly they all use their time in the store. They do pointless surgery on Jim, put wheels on a vehicle they never use, queue up to pay while chaos ensues outside the windows.

What’s interesting about Jim’s death is that we don’t actually see him after he’s been supposedly killed, and to my knowledge Sean Astin is listed as appearing in all thirteen episodes of this season. So either he’s the master of flashbacks going forward or he’s not actually dead.

Whatever the truth, he might now be added to a long list of characters that the show tells you are important, before entirely ignoring them. Like Bolivar, the Luss children, Ephraim’s family, Gus, and Nora’s mother. Who has now been stuck in Abraham’s shop for some considerable time.

Because of this Creatures Of The Night did feel like something of a guilty pleasure, as you could just enjoy the action without concerning yourself with the larger narrative, if one really exists.

That really sums up where we’re at with The Strain, because in eight episodes the characters haven’t really developed, and the plot goes walk-about for long periods. I’m inclined to think that this might have worked better as a three or four part mini-series, instead of trying to drag events out over multiple TV episodes. There is far too much padding, and so many irrelevant characters that even for an army of vampires couldn’t eat them all.

I enjoyed this one for what it was worth, but the lack of direction and focus is killing my interest about what happens next.

Read Billy's review of the previous episode, For Services Rendered, here.

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