The Strain S2E02 “By Any Means” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Watch, Wednesdays, 10pm
Writers: Bradley Thompson, David Weddle
Director: TJ Scott
Essential Plot Points:
- In flashback Palmer makes contact with a young Setrakian and asks him to acquire Sardu’s sword, which he does. Then he asks him to help look for the Occido Lumen.
- Eph and Nora create a virus that will kill the Strigoi.
- Palmer opens a food distribution centre but people who use it need to to reveal their blood type.
- Coco writes Palmer a speech which goes down really well.
Right so everyone’s cold-hearted, callous and battle-hardened now. Yeah we get it. Kelly can twist the heads off Feeler children. Eph can lie to his patients until they’re too weak to fight back. And despite Nora getting a pep talk from Setrakian about how she’s still one of the good ones on the inside, she doesn’t exactly step up to challenge Eph. Instead she lets him toss petri dishes contaminated with God knows what around the lab because acting like a drunken tit is Eph’s thing now. It’s part of his “journey”.
Last episode we were praising the show for having the guts to slow down a bit and showcase some character development. This episode slows down even more but there’s precious little development either in the plot or the characters. Aside from Dutch and Fet getting frisky everyone else is in a holding pattern. Eph drinks and scowls. Nora battles on gamely. Setrakian complains that nobody trusts him any more. We get the idea. We got it last week.
The flashbacks to Setrakian and Palmer’s first meeting in their youth in Austria are entertaining in themselves but shed little light in on the overall plot or on the pair’s relationship. This little detour into the past is crying out for a big revelation that never comes.
There are little oases of interesting moments, though. The opening scene with Eichhorst trying out the Master’s casket for size is wonderfully bonkers. Meanwhile, the scene in which Staten Island councilwoman Justine Feraldo tells all her stuffy, conniving, ineffectual, prevaricating male counterparts where they can stick their plans is probably the highlight of the episode. It’s a shame we couldn’t have seen more of her rather than more of Zach whinging and Eph moping.
The final confrontation between Palmer and Setrakian is great stuff too, mainly because it’s always great seeing Palmer looked ruffled.
You can’t help worrying, though, that the show has essentially spent two episode treading water now. This season desperately needs to start kicking into gear soon.
- Coco’s speech for Palmer is wonderfully rubbish and Palmer’s initial reaction to it – before he realises he has people eating out of his hand (almost literally) – is a wonderful piece of acting.
- Jim Watson is very good as young Setrakian – he has speech patterns and mannerisms that you can easily believe would become old Setrakian’s. But the performance is far more subtle than mere imitation.
- The way the Feelers move is downright creepy.
- The no-nonsense Staten Island councilwoman, Justine Feraldo, is great.
- Charlie Gallant never feels like a young version of the Palmer we know.
- Zach is whining again – are we going to have the, “You must save my mum! She isn’t really dead!” scene every episode this season?
- The chase through the Austrian hotel looks faintly comical, especially the Nazi memorabilia collector’s getaway on a truck moving about 12 mph.
- Not an awful lot happens.
- Hang on, isn’t Indiana Jones looking for that?
- Did you notice the mirroring between the shot at the top of the page and this one?
- Hmm, we can’t help wondering why Kelly rejected/killed that Feeler at the beginning of the episode. Admittedly it was probably just to show that Kelly is an unfeeling, unemotional monster now but we can’t help being reminded how Eichhorst seemed more interested in children who’d been blind from birth in the previous episode. Maybe this one slipped the net?
- Did you notice that the song playing in the swimming pool was “How Deep Is Your Love?” which seemed oddly apt for the location. Although Dutch and Fet ignore the no petting rule they never get out of the shallow end. Is that foreshadowing?