‘The Strain’ Episode 6 Review: “Occultation”

By August 18, 2014
  1,423

One of the privileges that comes with contributing to a website such as this one is receiving screeners for TV shows ahead of their scheduled air date. Thankfully, this is how I have been watching FX’s “The Strain.” I say thankfully, because I am in the final week of preparations for my wedding and keeping up with writing tasks such as these reviews is becoming more and more difficult. I’ll discuss that more in a bit…

Last night’s episode “Occultation” finally gets us to the halfway mark of season 1. The episode opens on a satellite in orbit and random recordings of people discussing various degrees of chaos and preparations for the upcoming eclipse. An eclipse?! On a vampire show?!!? How conveeeenient! But yes, that is the plot device in this episode that helps move things forward. Thankfully, things seem to be moving right along now…

From the satellite to Eichorst’s kill room, things are looking a wee bit different here. Also, we get to see the Nazi vampire’s feeding ritual. For some reason, this scene reminded me of something out of Saw. If only Jigsaw had an alien leech tongue…

THE STRAIN -- Pictured: Kevin Durand as Vasiliy Fet. CR.  Frank Ockenfels/FX

Much like in previous episodes, the majority of our characters are out on their own handling their own challenges. Abraham has begun his mission in tracking down each of the relatives of the flight victims only to be cornered quickly in a sticky situation. Further, Setrakian is not a spring chicken and we see the pressure and anxiety of it all has flared up his heart condition. Thankfully, he got out of there alive. I say thankfully because Setrakian is one of the few characters I find myself rooting for in this series.

The other character I feel for is Vasiliy. When he returns to the office, he finds his boss and coworker have both changed. This scene isn’t very climactic but we do get to see him discover the power of sunlight. As stoic as Vasiliy is, this succeeds at shaking him up and we soon find him returning to his parents’ home to plead with them to leave the city. This scene right here is mostly exposition, but presented very well as Kevin Durand gets to showcase a bit of his acting chops. I really felt for Vasiliy in his attempt to reconnect with his father, whom he hadn’t seen or spoken to in many years. But his mission in returning home failed, and you can probably expect his father and sick mother to become monsters soon enough.

And now I come to the main character of the show. Of all the storylines in “Occultation,” Ephraim Goodweather’s was the most frustrating. After his failed attempt at cluing in the CDC to the virus that is spreading in the city, he puts on a beanie (as a disguise?) and heads to his ex-wife’s house. However, the FBI beat him to the punch. After some questioning, the two suits leave and Eph finds his way into the house to tell his family (?) to leave town. But Sears manager boyfriend (who seems to only be on this show as a constant plot device) makes a quick phone call to the agents that were just at the door and the good doctor gets arrested. There’s a moment after Ephraim is taken away that Kelly (the ex-wife) confronts her new boyfriend about this dick move he pulled. I laughed when he tells her he has to work late into the night at the store. Goodbye Sears boyfriend! It was nice knowing you!

FX_Strain_EphraimGa5E69B7R_hires1

Throughout the episode, we are given updates of Ephraim’s interrogation scene as the detectives try to nail him into an admission of guilt. They have an image of him dragging that pilot’s body down a hospital hallway. What they don’t believe is his vampiric explanation. That’s cool, though, as it was pretty evident by watching this go down that once the eclipse hits, these detectives will be getting quite the wake up call.

We are treated to a quick scene showing us that Jim is still working both sides as he picks up Gus and a friend to help dispose of one of the transformed bodies. Dumping a bagged body in the river doesn’t seem like a new thing for Gus, but when they both get a glimpse of what is inside, it seems it may have jarred him a little. Unfortunately for him, he will probably have his hands full next week as his buddy got one of those worms on him during the eclipse. Poor guy.

THE STRAIN -- Pictured: Miguel Gomez as Gus. CR.  Frank Ockenfels/FX

Ah yes, the eclipse (occultation…whatever) finally happens. After hearing all those warnings coming through on that satellite at the beginning, you had to be expecting mass hysteria. We didn’t get mass hysteria. It seems like we were given a peek into what’s to come. As Eph is being escorted by the FBI agents to the location of the missing bodies, we see the missing medical examiner reappear in the middle of stopped traffic. This scene worked rather well in showing how quickly the strain can move. And as he pulled the second person from a random car, the detectives were quickly phased out of the equation. There’s that wakeup call I was talking about!

The episode ends with Ephraim back at Setrakian’s pawn shop, and he finds Nora and mother holing up there as well. So moving forward, it looks like we got the band back together!

For the next month, I will be out of commission. Between my wedding and honeymoon, it looks like I will not have the time needed to continue my reviews of FX’s “The Strain.” On my return, I will pick up as best as I can and get you all back on track just in time for the season 1 finale. But until then, please hold down the fort and give me your thoughts on last night’s episode 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.
  • Keith AllGamer

    I’ll give another post to how things differ from the book. I’ll try not to be too spoilery, but this is assuming that the reader has at least watched the episode and is familiar with what has been shown so far.

    First off, the occultation (there is an explanation in the book as to why this is the correct term and “eclipse” is not) happens during the open of the book and was key to the Master’s plan. It was the first time it had occurred like this over in the US in 400 years. There are other plot points that need the occultation to happen, which is why they included it (I won’t go into them here, it’s second and third book/season stuff). However, it looses a lot of significance not having it occur the day the plane arrived in New York.

    Setrakian’s house raid didn’t happen in the book. Once he and Eph team up the first time, they go from there. It mainly served exposition about Setrakian’s heart issues. Nora’s mother isn’t introduced until the second book. The scene with Gus and his friend getting arrested happened earlier in the book, right after Gus drove the Master across the river (they went out to spend the money Gus had made from the job). They run into a new vamp rampaging on the street, and Gus kills him by pushes him into traffic. This lands him in jail next to Setrakian, who tells Gus his friend is infected and clues him into what is really going down in the city. I’m guessing the rest of Gus’s scenes will more closely follow the book than they have so far, but we’ll see.

    The scene with Jim and Gus disposing of the body was amusing for the book reader. The only similar scene was the disposing of Jim Kent himself after he had been infected by Redfern in the hospital. Don’t know where they are going with the Jim Kent story line. Will he survive the season and be part of the next? Guess it depends on how good a deal Sean Astin signed for the part.

    Eph getting taken in by the FBI doesn’t happen until the second book and plays out differently. Otherwise, most of Eph’s scenes have stayed pretty close to the way they happen in the book. Eichost doesn’t really show up until later in the series, so his scenes are mostly new material. I guess he makes a good stand-in for the Master. They don’t want to show too much of him yet, so they gave us Eichost as a villainous henchman we can root against.

    Vasiliy discovers the truth about the vampires in the book much the same way he did here, but it’s a couple of anonymous vamps he runs into while looking for rats in a house. He accidentally exposes one to sunlight, sees it turn to dust and then tosses the other into the light to “see that again.” In the book he seemed to be more self employed and didn’t work out of an office the way he did on the show.

    Most of the plot points in the book are happening in the show, but with minor details changed or the timing when they occur is different. Some things are kept quite close, like Kelly’s argument with her boyfriend and his running into vamps at his work. I’ve agreed with most of the changes they’ve made for the show. In many cases neither is better, just different. I do think they should have gone with the occultation that first day, but I guess they thought it was too much to throw at the audience all at once or too much to try and fit into the pilot episode. Enjoying the show version well enough so far. Events should continue to pick up speed as the vampire plague escalates out of control.