‘The Strain’ Episode 5 Review: “Runaways”

By August 11, 2014
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Here we are at episode five of “The Strain” and I’m sure I’m not the only one wanting it to be the 7th or even 8th episode. Things are still moving slowly and this, along with the ridiculousness of the show as a whole, caused me to write last week’s review while drinking. This week, it’s stone cold sober for me. Clear mind. Full belly. Can’t lose? Anyway…SPOILERS AHEAD!

Last night’s episode “Runaways” was way more enjoyable than previous weeks’ and that may be due to there being more monster moments on screen. This might be a bad thing, given the other story lines that don’t revolve around anything monstrous (Ephraim’s family life, for instance). But before we start focusing on all bad things, it’s worth noting that last nights episode of “The Strain” was directed by RoboCop star Peter Weller and, whether you knew it or not, he’s been directing TV for some time now and he’s pretty damn good at it.

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Seeing Ephraim and Abraham working together was a nice change of pace. While the two ate a scrambled egg breakfast, Abraham gave Ephraim the lowdown on what they’re dealing with. Different people will react differently…because variety is the spice of life! Also, this is the moment where someone finally says the word “vampire.” All this was going down in the kitchen of the beheaded French folks whose bodies, I’m assuming, were still in the basement. Morbid!

What was interesting is the way Setrakian’s flashback scenes unfolded. I just started reading the books and they open with him as a boy. Finally ending up at the Holocaust was…a breath of fresh air? No, I wouldn’t really use those words, but it definitely added weight to the story, giving us an anchor in these actual horrific historic events. Seeing “The Master” in these flashbacks struck me as a bit odd. The terror was more felt through Abraham’s reactions as opposed to seeing the monster on screen. I’m not sure if that’s how it was intended, but I will say, though, I am looking forward to seeing how the relationship between he and Eichorst pans out in the coming episodes.

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All four of the Regis Air survivors have now turned and it is interesting seeing how each have dealt with the virus and ended up on the other side. Ephraim referred to it as a cocoon state, coming out the other side a new creature, and that’s pretty accurate. I laughed out loud during the woodshed scene where Dr. Goodweather finally put Abraham’s nail gun advice to use. I laughed even louder when Abraham beheaded vampire Ansel and then the poor neighbor that was his dinner. Abraham = badass.

That’s two survivors down with the remainders being Gabriel and Joan. This episode gave us more insight to Joan’s transformation and this was probably the first moment in the series where I felt terror. She played these scenes fantastically and the horror I felt was for her children, who she would have probably eaten if they stayed in that house any longer. Mr. Bolivar, on the other hand, felt like old hat. He already felt like an antiquated character so maybe I’m just jaded with the goth stuff. It was nice to see Larry Fassenden pop up in this scene as “The Cleaner.” Sadly, he didn’t last too long. Oh, and I haven’t mentioned it yet, but Regina King as Gabriel Bolivar’s manager Ruby is pretty great casting in this role. And she got away! In horror films, black people usually don’t get away, so I’m cheering!

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For a while now, people have brought up the question of where the missing bodies from the plane went. Well, it seems like Vasiliy found them in the sewers. Maybe this was a nod to C.H.U.D. or maybe this was just a common sense place for vampires to go during the daytime. Whatever the case, I loved this scene and actually found myself rooting for Vasiliy to survive (which he did). However, we’re a few days into the Regis Air scandal and the vampires are starting to run rampant in New York. We see this happening in the convalescent home that Nora’s mom lives in. It’s only a matter of time until the city is overrun.

But this fact doesn’t seem to change the minds of those higher up at the CDC. It’s not like Goodweather didn’t try, though. This scene was a bit annoying as he straight up showed his boss undeniable proof of what happens to the victims. He requests a quarantine and instead becomes the hunted and ends up running from the building with help from Jim of all people. It’s infuriating, though, to think of those in charge at the CDC just turning their heads when they are shown evidence of what is happening and what’s to come.

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“Runaways” provided more creepy monster goodness and pushed the story forward enough to keep me interested (and sober). It’s also nice to see a series deal with the apocalypse as it happens as most shows (I’m looking at you, “The Walking Dead”) mostly deal with the post-apocalyptic aftermath. After viewing this episode, I have come away with two requests:

1) Can we please have an episode where Ephraim Goodweather just shaves his head? That hair piece, man!

And…

2) MORE SWORD-WIELDING ABRAHAM, PLEASE!

What did you all think of last night’s episode of “The Strain”? Implant your thoughts into 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.