[This is a review of The Strain season 1, episode 8. There will be SPOILERS.]
I’m a big fan of campy horror movies and especially the remote cabin in the woods-type where a group of characters are trapped and have to work together to escape some sort of evil. As long as the main players are likable and the villain is a plausible threat, you get the sheer terror of the danger involved and then the thrill of seeing characters you’re invested in unite and fight back.
That being the case, it should come as no surprise that ‘Creatures of the Night’ is one of my favorite episodes of The Strain thus far.
Vasiliy quickly became a show favorite, so it’s a thrill to get to see him come together with Eph, Nora, Jim and Setrakian. Vasiliy seems perfectly capable of taking care of himself, but he’s still human and so it’s undeniably appealing to see him join forces with other key characters that he could eventually form bonds with and also accomplish quite a bit with as well.
Setrakian’s got the experience, Eph and Nora have an understanding of the science behind it all and now we’ve got Vasiliy who’s got his own unique set of skills. Eph, Nora, Jim and Setrakian’s grand plan to find The Master in episode 7 was pretty ridiculous, but perhaps they could come up with better stuff with Vasiliy’s help. In fact, the way they get themselves out of that gas station shop proves that they can.
I’m not so sure about Dutch Velders (Ruta Gedmintas) though. She did manage to make an impression in her little bit of screen time in episode 4 and, at first, it was nice to see her return, but based on what we get in ‘Creatures of the Night,’ there isn’t anything particularly striking about her besides the fact that she’s the one responsible for the lack of communication right now.
Granted, it’s only her second episode, so we’ll likely learn more about her in the coming weeks, but having hoped for her return for a while now, I did expect more from the character right off the bat.
Regardless, ‘Creatures of the Night’ still plays exceptionally well. As I pointed out last week, The Strain’s got a lot of things going on and a lot of characters in play, so this standalone episode came at the perfect time.
It’s a well-structured story in and of itself. You’ve got the opening with characters coming together and coming to terms with what’s going on, then they struggle to make a plan, after which we get a third act blowout of sorts as the vampires make their way inside and our heroes make a run for the bread truck.
However, even though ‘Creatures of the Night’ is a complete mini narrative on its own, it still adds quite a bit to the situation beyond the episode, especially in terms of learning about the vampires and how to defeat them. We’ve known about the silver and head-slicing for a while, but now there’s the UV lights, the vampire hierarchy and additional knowledge regarding the way they operate. Things will likely quiet down as soon as the sun rises, but the moment it sets again, a lot of these new details should come into play and make the action far more interesting to track.
And of course, there’s no wrapping up this review without addressing poor Jim’s departure. I didn’t think we were at that point in the show yet, so it did come as a surprise that they’d kill off a main character eight episodes in. Plus, you’d think at some point they’d figure out a way to save people. Do these things really multiply so fast that a tiny nick on the face could result in a back full of worms in mere minutes?
Perhaps this is just me wanting the main characters to have a fighting chance, but there’s just got to be a way to stop that from happening, right? Could there be a middle ground? Maybe that’s what those new hooded creatures from episode 7 are?
There are so many things to consider right now and The Strain continues to do an excellent job of making that a thoroughly enthralling and entertaining challenge.
The Strain continues next Sunday with ‘The Disappeared’ at @10pm on FX.
Follow Perri on Twitter @PNemiroff.