THE STRAIN — “The Silver Angel” — Episode 204 (Airs August 2, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Miguel Gomez as Gus Elizade. CR: Michael Gibson/FX
Here we are into episode 4 of the The Strain, and so far the most impressive episode in season 2 was the first. It wasn’t all bad, however. Gus (Miguel Gomez, Southpaw, Louie) came through bringing some impressive, emotion-filled acting to the table. That’s a good thing for Gomez, but one guy can’t hold up an entire show.
First of all, we’re all watching The Strain for the horror and the suspense. There can be drama, and comedy, and everything else, but they have to take a backseat to the horror. For the third episode in a row, Nora (Mia Maestro, Hannibal) and Eph (Corey Stoll, Ant-Man) play mad scientists in their quest to find a way to stop The Master–who’s been M.I.A. since the first episode–and his vampire horde. Ultimately, while their potion worked, and infected the vampires, The Master–who is a supernatural being–was able to make the infected vamps jump off a building to their deaths. God, he’s such a troll…
THE STRAIN — “The Silver Angel” — Episode 204 (Airs August 2, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Parveen Kaur as Aanya Gupta, Miguel Gomez as Gus Elizade. CR: Michael Gibson/FX
The problem with Eph and Nora is they are still treating this like something scientific. This is where the problem lies with the last few episodes, because we’re not here to watch a science procedural. For the love of God, dead people are coming back to life, and sucking the blood out of the living. There is nothing scientific about that. Nevertheless, they both take this as a victory, and continue to bore the shit out of us. Kelly (Natalie Brown, How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town) and her vampire babies are on the hunt for Zach (Max Charles, Harvey Beaks), but apparently, they’re taking the scenic route, and stopping for snacks, because she’s still a day late and a penny short. This family is dysfunctional even in living death (for one of them, anyway). Eph keeps trying to bond with Zach, but the kid is so traumatized by years of his parents’ bickering, that he doesn’t care about anything. He’s spoiled. Trust me, this will have consequences down the line.
Abraham (David Bradley, Game of Thrones) and Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas, The Incident) take a trip to Shaolin, err, I mean, Staten Island to try to convince Mr. Fitzwilliam (Roger R. Cross, 12 Rounds 3: Lockdown) to give up information on his former employer, and master villain, Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde, Thea). Fitzwilliam seems reticent at first, but it’s probably because he’s seen some shit that he never wants to remember ever… Setrakian seems confident that Fitzwilliam will join the squad, however. I’m thinking that Fitzwilliam will take the place of a canon character, but we’ll see next week.
We were treated to a flashback of Setrakian and Palmer hunting down the Occido Lumen in a monastery in Europe, which was nice because it was a little dose of horror and suspense. It also served to show how Palmer’s ulterior motives came to mesh with The Master’s master plan (no pun intended) thanks to a visit from Eichhorst (Richard Sammel, A Day Like a Week) to Palmer, while Setrakian tried to save some poor kid from vampires in the monastery’s catacombs below.
THE STRAIN — “The Silver Angel” — Episode 204 (Airs August 2, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Jack Kesy as Bolivar. CR: Michael Gibson/FX
Speaking of Palmer’s evil ass, one of the best scenes in “The Silver Angel” came courtesy of a brilliantly executed trap by Palmer and Gabriel Bolivar (Jack Kesy, Yelling to the Sky, Demented) with his vamp squad. I don’t know in what world these people think they are living, but it’s clear that it’s the end times. Vampires are all over the place, and these bankers decide to “Kumbaya” it out for the sake of making more money. It serves their asses right, though. The minute they step out of Palmer’s little get together to get into their chauffeured black SUVs, Bolivar and a horde of vampires descend on them for some protein. Of course, Palmer gets out alive. Evil son of a gun…
I don’t know if they meant for this to be funny, but when the reporter at the scene finally realizes that vampires are taking out humans left and right, she does this comical shuffle from left to right before it looks like both her and the camera man chunk up the deuce to the whole damn thing.
The character with the most growth this episode was Gus. Granted, it was not cannon, but Gus showed a much softer side than we’ve seen in thus far. After his vampire homies are fried (episode 203), Gus goes back home to get some clothes. Now, either Gus doesn’t give a shit, or he forgot, but his mom–who was turned last season–is still in there… And she’s hungry. Now, Gus might be gangster as hell, but he’s all about his mama. When he sees her, and she attacks, he refuses to kill her, and begs her not to make him hurt her. The Master takes the opportunity to insult Gus, and try to get into his head, but Gus isn’t taking the bait.
Gomez brought out the real tears for this scene, and it was so heartbreaking, I just wanted to put his head on my chest, and console him. It was really well done, and it proves that even those who appear rough around the edges, can be incredibly vulnerable and tender on the inside. Unfortunately, the hurt didn’t end there for Gus. Things did seem like they were looking up for Gus when he met a cute waitress at the Indian restaurant he decided to check out, but that went to hell in a hand basket when the girl’s mom wasn’t feeling her talking to someone like him. His chance visit to the Indian restaurant introduced us to a cannon character from the books, however. A washed-up lucha libre wrestler, formerly known as El Angel de la Plata, who works at the restaurant, and fancies himself the defender of the ladies, is recognized by Gus, a huge fan of his. Yup! Gus is a lucha libre mark. Despite Gus marking out for Angel, it still doesn’t lead to hugs and handshakes. Angel tells Gus to kick rocks, and a dejected Gus ultimately walks away. This won’t be the last time we see Angel, though. Believe that…
THE STRAIN — “Fort Defiance” — Episode 203 (Airs July 26, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Miguel Gomez as Gus Elizade. CR: Michael Gibson/FX
That scene between Gus and Angel in the alleyway where Gus, in an almost childlike manner approaches him as a fan, was hard to watch. Gus’ mother is definitely gone, her body no longer hers to even command. He’s lost the prospect of some sort of romance, or any kind of intimacy with the waitress, his brother is dead, his friends are gone, and one of his heroes turns out to be an asshole. All of this happens while civilization starts to crumble around him. That freaking sucks, man! Again, I just wanted to hold him, and tell him everything was going to be okay. Gus has a good heart, he just doesn’t let people get close.
Meanwhile, Fet (Kevin Durand, Vikings) is apprehended by a gang of guys enforcing the curfew after he blows up part of a subway tunnel to keep out the vampires. So, as of now, Fet is missing in action.
I’m going to be honest. I’m getting bored. The books are far more terrifying than this, and it seems like The Strain‘s showrunners are adding filler to the show to stretch things out. That wouldn’t be a bad thing if it was enjoyable, but it’s not. It’s tedious, and boring. Please step it up! I will say that the cheesy 50s era B-movie footage of El Angel de la Plata fighting off vampires was a nice touch.