‘The Strain’ Episode 11 Review: “The Third Rail”

By September 22, 2014
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It was a bit over a month ago that I took a little hiatus (got married, went to Europe, etc.) but I have finally returned! And you know what, given that so much time has gone by, it really doesn’t feel like all that much with regard to anything relevant happening on “The Strain.” But then again, if you’re still watching the show like me, you’re not in it for anything relevant or logical. Let’s get to it then…

This week’s episode is called “The Third Rail” and not “The Third Reich” although, with the previous episodes’ flashbacks to Nazi Germany, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was titled the latter. While I was on my trip, I did my best to stay up to speed on the series and watched a small marathon while on a long train trip. There were some pretty great moments in some of the episodes of the past month. The episode titled “Creatures of the Night” comes to mind. Vasiliy is now teamed up with Setrakian and Eph. In a pretty predictable turn of events, Jim got infected and was soon taken out by Mr. Rat Killer. We briefly got a glimpse at a different breed of vampire in hoodies who seem like “the good guys,” but who knows? With the way they were dressed, I was half expecting to see them spontaneously break out into a choreographed dance fight. It didn’t happen.

But after that one action-packed episode, things got a wee bit humdrum. Last week’s episode “The Loved Ones” was a snooze. The only real plot point to take away from it was that Eph’s ex-wife is now infected and the Master wants to bone her…or something. Thankfully, “The Third Rail” brings back some sense of action and mostly succeeded at keeping my interest.

If you all remember, when the eclipse hit a few episodes ago, Gus’ big friend was infected right when they were both arrested for assault. In the following episodes, we found Gus’ friend turned while being transported for medical attention and Gus then did the difficult thing and shot his friend in the head before escaping. In last night’s episode, he returns to his home to find his dimwitted brother transformed into a mindless monster (who still apparently loves watching soccer). Well, goodbye Crispin! Gus kills him with a baseball bat and then finds his turned mother in the bedroom closet. This was a rather emotional moment for Gus but he spared his mother and left armed with an axe. Kudos on the weapon of choice – now I want to play Dead Rising 3.

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In this episode, Eph and the crew decide to move forward with a plan to hunt down and kill the Master…because that’ll be soooo easy. Armed with a light bomb that Vasiliy worked on in Setrakian’s basement, as well as a bunch of other large flourescent lights, guns, etc. (no axes though), they head down into the subway tunnels of New York. And while this is the main mission, Ephraim decides to make the smart (dumb) decision and leave his son Zach behind to watch after Nora’s crazy mother Mariela. This woman has Alzheimer’s disease and really loves to smoke. So when she runs out of cigarettes, she damn near loses her sh*t but thankfully Carl…I mean Zach…was there to make everything right. To keep Mariela quiet, Zach heads out alone to get her cigarettes from the local store.

I know for a fact I am not the only one thinking this, but DAMN this kid Zach is more annoying than Carl from “The Walking Dead.” Stay in the house, Zach! Anyway, he makes it to the store in a rather bloated and pointless scene involving a few looters and a vampire. Zach ends up acquiring the cigarettes and escapes the clutches of the vampire but it doesn’t look good for the two looters he comes across. As Zach exits the store, Gus and axe enter and just for a second, we’re left hoping that he’ll be the latest addition to the team. Instead, he just tells Zach to scram and heads to the back room to kill some vampire scum.

Look, I’m sure we needed the other story lines in this episode but honestly, this one is the only one that truly matters. From the subway tunnels to the sewers, the gang is getting closer to the Master’s lair. The Master’s lair, conveniently enough, is near Ground Zero because he has a knack for feeding on the ultimate in human pain and suffering. Too soon? The mission here is to destroy the Master with the light bomb and a subsequent beheading (?) with the hopes that Abe was right in saying all the other vampires will vanquish with his demise.

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Soon enough, they come across a crowd of zombie vampires sleeping. Setrakian makes it a point to share the knowledge that when they first turn, the transformation takes its toll and makes the newly turned creepies dead tired. It’s a slight nail biter of an episode as they sneak past those in slumber and get to a hole in the wall. Now look, I’ve seen enough horror movies in my time to know not to go through the hole in the wall. But they couldn’t turn back and suddenly, all of my claustrophobic nightmares took shape in this scary TV moment. Dr. Goodweather is the first one to say f*ck it and burrow through this human sized tunnel to get to the other side and when he comes out, he discovers the Master’s giant coffin. Almost immediately, Ephraim hears the voice of his ex-wife Kelly calling to him. Sorry Mr. del Toro, but Stephen King did this gag better in “It.” COME AT ME! The rest of the team is soon following through the tunnel with the strigoi hot on Vasiliy’s heels. This chase scene while maneuvering through this hole in the wall was pretty well done.

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And of course, while Ephraim is looking for Kelly, the Master appears and almost kills him. Can we take a moment here and discuss how silly this dude looks? Seriously, he should’ve kept the hood on and keep the mystery going. Every time the Master shows his face, I can’t help but snicker a bit. And yes, the rest of the team make it out in time to use the light bomb and scare the Master away. This pisses off Abe who goes after him only to come to a giant vagina-shaped hole in the wall which separates them from thousands of naked slumbering zombie vampires. My two cents: don’t go into the giant vagina. Remember what happened to that guy in Europe!

We have two episodes remaining in the season. My only requests are to bring Gus in with axe swinging and to give us more of those hooded vampire breakdancers. I know: they’re probably not dancers, but a guy can dream!

What are your thoughts of last night’s episode? Tell me in the comments below!

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Aside from throwing words onto your screen here, he has written for the likes of FEARnet, Examiner, Dread Central and MTV Movies Blog. And yes, he was Percy on VR Troopers.