The Strain: It’s Not for Everyone review

Is The Strain the best horror show on television in an era of great horror television?'s our review of this week's episode.

This review contains spoilers.

Well, thank you, The Strain. All week, I have been afraid to pee. Afraid that my wang was going to fall off in the toilet, ala, Gabriel Bolivar who was Ken-dolled by his vampirism last week. Bolivar did not make an appearance this week, but there was more dicklessness and more awesomeness going around as The Strain continues to be THE highlight of this summer television season.

Let’s start with the plane survivor that left this mortal coil last episode, poor Captain Redfern. Redfern was the most likable (and corporative) of the four plane survivors. He listened to Eph, checked himself into a medical facility, did all that was expected of him unlike Bolivar and whatsherface the lawyer, yet he still transformed and still had has his cooperative face caved in by Ephraim Goodweather.

The death of the poor captain kicked off many a story beat in this week’s episode (which was penned by Sons of Anarchy and Deadwood vet Regina Corrado). First off, we got to see Eph finally assert some dominance. He lost his home and family to some hipster, he is in danger of losing his son, but damn it, put him in a room with a newly transformed vampire and a fire extinguisher, and watch Eph renew his man card. Not only did the doctor Eph up (I’m trademarking that) the vamp, he also coolly performed an autopsy on the creature with the squished cranium.

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Now, I have sat through many a cinematic autopsy scene, I rather consider myself a connoisseur on the subject, and this one, this sucker right here, this one ranked right up there. As Eph, Nora, and Jim dug into the necrotized flesh and organs of the recently transformed captain, their disgust was palpable. As they viewed and recorded the alien anatomy of the thing they killed, Eph kept his cool and recorded every aspect of the vampire’s anatomy. From the prehensile throat stinger the size of a good sized lamprey, to the smooth groin that once held the captain’s twigs and berries, to the petrified lungs, every inch of the thing was splayed open for the viewers and the players to see. It was glorious.

The impact of the captain’s death didn’t stop there. Nora began to question her place in this crusade. To Nora, it was one thing to cure a disease, but to be a warrior on the front line of a monster invasion of New York, it didn’t seem like Nora had the heart for that. But it was Jim that the event had the biggest impact on. Well, now Jim sees what his actions had released and he confessed to Eph and Nora. Jim is a tragic character, trying to do right by his dying wife, a man who saw an opportunity to help his family, but in doing so, became a traitor to his entire species. Eph, still feeling the testosterone from his head crushing, decked Jim, who was left with the knowledge that every person whose dick falls off in New York City is his responsibility.

Eph and Nora know exactly what they are in for now and needed to warn the other survivors. When they arrived at the home of the little gal who dined on her daddy a few weeks back, things got very tense very quickly. Now, Eph and Nora were confronted with a creature in the guise of a little girl, every instinct in the pair screamed at them not to hurt the child, so it was good thing that Abraham Setrakian was there. With one quick swipe of his sword cane, the small but deadly threat was dispatched. The sight of the beheaded little girl was too much for Nora, who tapped out of any more vampire hunting.

It seems Nora is going to have to find her monster hunting heart in order to effectively assist Eph and Setrakian. I guess not everyone has the heart to turn a former human being’s head into an inside out jelly donut, but it looks like Nora has a hero’s journey ahead of her as she seeks to find the heart to do what needs to be done.

A possible vampire in training could come in the form of Augustin ‘Gus’ Elizalde who continues to be a very cool shade of grey type character. Gus isn’t above lifting a few rides with his pudgy gangbanging buddy, but he also has the heart to take care of his mamma and return the clock to Setrakian that his junkie brother stole a few episodes back. If drawn into the conflict, Gus could be a difference maker in the war on the vamps, especially if he thinks they pose a threat to his beloved mama. In the meantime, Gus has some problems of his own as he connected with some street toughs that could pose a threat down the line. Gus is a sweet boy with a sidearm and a penchant for grand larceny, but hey, no one is perfect.

Finally, we have Ansel Barbour and his wife Ann-Marie. Now when we met Ann-Marie a few weeks back she just screamed victim. It felt inevitable that she would end up her newly transformed husband’s first meal, but while Ansel was a bit namby-pamby, he clearly loved his wife as shown by the fact that he chained himself to his shed so he wouldn’t harm his wife’s Jesus loving person.

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So what did, Ann-Marie do? Remember a few weeks ago where Ann-Marie commented that her dog returned home injured? Well, gentle Ann-Marie learned that her douche neighbor did harm to her pooch, she did what any suburban house wife would do, she shoved the jerk into her shed and let her vampire husband eat him. Now who saw that coming?  Ann-Marie preferred her husband as the monster. Ansel just went from the least interesting newly minted vampire to the one whose story I am most looking forward to seeing play out.

All in all, The Strain keeps the Golden Age of horror television alive during the summer as a vampire show that breaks convention with almost every scene.

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4 out of 5