The Strain: Loved Ones review

While this one isn't the strongest episode of The Strain, there's still plenty to enjoy. Here's Marc's review...

The idea of family or loyalty to love ones has been a thematic thread in The Strain from the beginning. Just about every character has been motivated by protecting a member of their family or a loved one. The title of this week’s episode seemed ominous enough. A show like this, a show that dares to be truly unflinching entitling an episode “Loved Ones?” That’s not going to be good for someone, right?


Earlier epiodes utilized flashbacks to inform viewers of Setrakian’s trials and origins. This week, flashbacks were used to show viewers just where Kelly Goodweather, Eph’s estranged wife (but still a “Loved One”) has been. Turns out, dating a Sears manager was the worst thing that Kelly ever did. Stupid, stupid Matt sealed Kelly’s fate when he narced on Eph to the FBI.

Now, Matt completed his transformation into a vampire (as we saw last week when Eph sliced the douche’s Sears managing head off) and attacked Kelly. Matt turned out to be just as lousy a vampire as he was boyfriend as he utterly failed to get anywhere near Kelly. Kelly summarily kicked his ass but sadly, during the very one sided and emasculating scuffle, a vamp worm got lodged in Kelly’s eye.

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At this point, let’s salute the sheer horrific artistry pulled off in the shot as the worm borrowed its way into Kelly’s eye. The camera lingers on her terrified expression as the worm slowly winds its way into her ocular cavity like a piece of angel hair pasta being sucked up into hungry lips. As the worm slowly disappears, one can’t help but reflect on just how much this moment will affect everyone from Eph to her son Zach to the crew out to stop the spread of the Master’s plague. That worm changes everything.

We spend much of the episode following the newly turned Kelly as Eph tracks her through some sadly contrived cell phone tracking plot nonsense. The Strain doesn’t often miss, but having Zach track his mom’s iPhone while the show constantly informs us there is barley any internet, was just way too convenient. But it got the plot rolling I guess, and the real meat of the episode came in Kelly’s flashback.

Kelly pays a visit to her neighbor and BFF and proceeds to feed off the poor lady and her son. Again, let us salute the balls of The Strain. Not many shows would have the gall to show a close up of an innocent kid being drained by a nine foot eel tongue jotting out of someone’s throat. Of course, we can’t leave it with just the death of this poor lad and his mom. Oh no. Later, as Eph tracked Kelly to their house, he had to dispatch the kid again. On their newly dead bodies, he finds Kelly’s necklace. Now he knows that one of his loved ones has been taken, and that this plague has just gotten very personal.

Eph had Kelly and Zach. Gus, who we didn’t see this episode, has his beloved mama. Jim (RIP Samwise) had his wife. Nora has her addlepated mother. And Setrakian has his beloved brain in a jar. Everyone has their loved ones and Eph is down to one with one still out there, feeding on the city. When we last saw Kelly, she was called by the Master. Perhaps that hooded pile of disease now has a loved one of his own, a newly turned spawn who could be a secret weapon against his enemies.

Speaking of weapons, this week, Vasiliy Fet, weapon against vermin everywhere, and hacker girl Dutch, venture into Eldritch Palmer’s tower in order to try to get the internet back up (even though it is up enough so a ten year old can track a cell phone). What follows is…not much of anything really, as Fet and Dutch are quickly captured, brought before Palmer, insulted, and ordered to be killed.

Luckily, Palmer’s loyal manservant Fitzwilliam released Fet and Dutch in a very interesting character twist. Fitzwilliam hasn’t had much time to shine yet, but this little plot wrinkle adds a layer of intrigue to his formerly stagnant character. But Fet and Dutch’s mission seemed like a time waster. The only thing that was really established was the Palmer wants to somehow alter human DNA and Dutch is a pretty constantly pissed off young lady. We’ll see how the whole DNA hacking thing plays out, but right now it seems like a needless bit of confusion in a plot that already has a great deal going on.

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Not much happened this week with Setrakian or Nora, and Eichhorst was nowhere to be found. It was a weaker episode, but even a weak one flies by because of the show’s attention to character and some always welcome gore pieces. With only three episodes left this season, let’s hope “Loved Ones” set up the dominos that will fall as we race towards a no doubt balls to the wall conclusion.

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3 out of 5